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Bright Music (1999) is a chamber divertimento. In musical language both astringent and lyrical, Rorem combines flute, piano, two violins, and cello in a five movement suite. The opening Fandango: Wild and Clear is quirky and vigorous. The middle section of Dance-Song-Dance: Fast recalls the musical Americana of Aaron Copland. Another Dream: Very free evokes French languor. The concluding Chopin: Presto is a super fast, witty virtuoso romp. This music demands the utmost virtuosity from the musicians and the UM ensemble delivered that and more. Tian Ying played the piano line brilliantly. He clearly has a real affinity for the contemporary musical idiom. His keyboard flourishes were dazzling. Ying also displayed a lyrical bent in the slower sections. Flutist Christine Nield-Capote played her prominent part with sparkling insouciance and purity of tone. Basham and Flavin added brilliance to the high string end while Harbaugh's caressed the melodic lines that Rorem loves to give to the lower, darker toned string instruments. Here was bright, witty music played with panache! (Ms Nield-Capote also gave a lovely, songful performance of Mountain Song (1949), an early Rorem piece that recalls Wayne Barlow's oboe work The Winter's Past.)

Ned Rorem in 2003. Photo: Christian Steiner
Ned Rorem in 2003. Photo: Christian Steiner

Festival Miami presented the full spectrum of Ned Rorem's chamber and vocal writing. The music was all beautiful and striking, the performances excellent. Here was a real tribute to an American master! Happy Birthday Ned Rorem and many more!

Copyright © 13 November 2003 Lawrence Budmen, Miami Beach, USA






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