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Chamber music by American composers -
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'This is a most worthy undertaking ...'

Society for New Music: American Masters. © 2004 Society for New Music

The New York based Society for New Music has produced a remarkable five-CD box which, it says, is a natural result of its own stated mission to commission and promote regional composers. The contents, about six hours of very contrasting and splendidly performed chamber works, include commissions that span the life of the Society which was formed in 1971 to support the growth of the central New York musical community.

The contents are kaleidoscopic, a dazzling array of styles from 29 composers of all ages -- some, like Earl George [listen -- CD 2 track 5, 0:00-1:06], Ann Silsbee, Howard Boatwright and Brian Israel [listen -- CD 1 track 3, 0:00-1:19] honoured but no longer here with us to appreciate the effort. Others draw attention to the youngest composers in this anthology; Augusta Read Thomas, born 1964, who is represented with a brief and powerful cello solo, Bells Ring Summer [listen -- CD 4 track 15, 0:00-0:49] and two short clever piano pieces; and the Chinese born Ping Jin, also born 1964, whose ensemble piece Yangtze! Yangtze! comes over as a colourful and enthusiastic little masterpiece [listen -- CD 4 track 18, 1:27-2:59].

Among the older composers there are arresting pieces by Zhuang Liu (born 1932), Syd Hodkinson (born 1934), Nicholas D'Angelo (born 1933), Malcolm Lewis (born 1925) with his Cuban flavoured piano studies, and James Willey (born 1939) whose Society Music would certainly compel its listeners to pay attention [listen -- CD 5 track 1, 3:41-5:23].

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Copyright © 22 May 2005 Patric Standford, Wakefield UK


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