<< -- 2 -- Carson P Cooman A PERSONAL STYLE
The opening piece on the disc is one of Anderson's most single-minded, yet strongest pieces. Entitled Quilt Music, it is an extended minimalist-influenced piece for solo piano, inspired by the great American tradition of quilting. Indeed the work has a wonderfully 'homespun' gentle energy to it. The booklet notes quote Anderson as saying that, as in a 'crazy quilt', one never knows what is coming next. Although it is nearly 25 minutes long, it pleases for its entire duration
[listen -- track 1, 0:00-0:59].
The next offerings are three song cycles. Cat Songs is a vocal cycle on cat poems by Palmer Cox, William Blake, Emily Dickinson, Jonathan Swift, and two anonymous texts. Dreaming Fields is a setting of three 'silly' children's poems by Eugene Field. The final cycle, Harlem Songs, uses poetry of Gwendolyn Bennett, Countee Cullen, Sterling A Brown, and Georgia Douglas Johnson. To the voice and piano, Anderson adds a jazzy double bass for this third cycle.
The text settings are always appropriate, although there is a certain sameness across all the songs -- regardless of their subject matter. Also, the rather strange 'conversational' vocal timbre of baritone Keith Borden grates a bit by the end of the cycles. Still, he is clearly committed to the music and presumably (since the recordings were composer-supervised) represents Anderson's intentions for the works.
Following the song cycles are four very short works for violin and piano. Belgian Tango is a gentle example of that form, and Dr Blood's Mermaid Lullaby is a slightly 'off-kilter' lyrical excursion. Tale No 1 is an exciting folk-influenced fiddle-piece
[listen -- track 17, 0:00-0:39],
whereas Tale No 2 is more introverted.
Copyright © 30 July 2006
Carson P Cooman, Cambridge USA