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The coarse good humour of the first of Milhaud's Saudades immediately disperses the tensions of the Gubaidulina [listen -- track 9, 0:00-0:43]. Land's End have re-worked these dances very effectively for their own instrumentation; the result is somewhere between the original piano version and the composer's own orchestration.

The title track, Four Degrees of Freedom, is by one of Canada's emerging composers, Kellie-Marie Murphy. A piano flourish announces the first of -- logically enough -- four major sections (slow-fast-slow-fast). The first movement features the three string players while the third is dominated by the piano. The finale brings an exciting new piece to a triumphant conclusion [listen -- track 12, 7:16-7:53]. Four Degrees is approachable without being simplistic, and it is played with an exhilarating buoyancy. It stands up very well to comparison with pieces from the more established composers on the disc, and I look forward to hearing more of Murphy's work.

This is Land's End Chamber Ensemble's first recording and it is an impressive début, with first-rate performances and excellent production. The repertoire is a bold selection, saying, 'We're here, we're good, we're happy to entertain you and just as happy to challenge you', which is a great starting point. It's an ambitious call for musicians in an isolated provincial city (Calgary may not be quite as isolated or as provincial as my own home city, but I do understand the context they work in!) but this group may well be able to justify it -- especially if they can persuade the viola player to stay.

Copyright © 10 November 2004 Malcolm Tattersall, Townsville, Australia


Land's End Chamber Ensemble - Four Degrees of Freedom

DMP-0166 Stereo NEW RELEASE 66' 2004 Canadian Broadcasting Corporation

Land's End Chamber Ensemble: Lohn Lowry, violin; Elizabeth Bergmann, piano; Beth Root Sandvoss, cello; Marcel Bergmann, piano; Anita Dusevic, guest viola; Rob Thomas Squance, percussion; Mark Hopkins, artistic director; George Fenwick, artistic director emeritus

George Antheil: Sonata No 2; Toru Takemitsu (1930-1996): Between Tides; Gordon Rumson: Three Preludes for Piano, dedicated to Leo Ornstein; Sofia Gubaidulina: String Trio (in three movements); Darius Milhaud (arr Land's End Chamber Ensemble): Saudades de Brasil; Kelly-Marie Murphy: Four Degrees of Freedom



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