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It's surprising how much the composer's third cello sonata feels like the second symphony, in spite of the huge difference in instrumentation. We hear the same emphasis on a few, relatively short melodic phrases, often based on simple rising or falling sequences. And we also hear the composer's episodic approach to forward progress. Except for a portion of the first movement, which is driven by a continuous, rhythmic piano accompaniment, the music moves in spurts separated by brief pauses. This excerpt shows the contrast [listen -- track 4, 0:58-2:20]. The slower, second section of the excerpt is more typical of the composer.

The sonata has a romantic sound. The slow middle movement is especially beautiful for those who like the cello's deep-throated timbre (though an unfortunate sneeze and other weaknesses in the live recording detract from the effect). As in the symphony, the tension increases in the third and final movement. The piece concludes with a forte flurry that strains cello intonation in the otherwise convincing performance.

Blauvelt's first symphony, in spite of the composer's protestations to the contrary, is a less distinctive work than the others on the program. It was originally conceived, the composer writes, as a doctoral dissertation, roughly 20 years before the second symphony. It is more interesting, and at times involving, than most student works and does include elements of Blauvelt's more recent compositions. But it also displays the not always salutary influence of the academic community and a youthful, self-conscious striving for seriousness [listen -- track 7, 6:21-7:35].

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Copyright © 20 April 2006 Ron Bierman, San Diego, USA


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