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Corpus, by David Sanford, is about the same length overall but is explicitly in six movements. The brief, rather Monteverdian Antiphon [listen -- track 1, 0:00-0:41], the Introit and the reflective De Profundis, in particular, bounce off renaissance and early-baroque ideas but the strongest influences come from the jazz world. Sermon features a long trombone solo which builds into a tutti climax ending the work [listen -- track 6, 4:01-5:49]

Nick Didkovsky has presented his Slim in Beaten Dreamers as fifteen separate tracks. The titles of all fifteen, and the whole work, are anagrams of the ensemble's name, which is moderately clever but adds nothing to the music. The idiom could be described as a minimalist take on jazz-rock. 'Duke Ellington meets Philip Glass' is an intriguing stylistic juxtaposition [listen -- track 19, 0:00-0:58].

The movements are extremely brief: several are down in the twenty-second range and even the longest is under four minutes. Many of them set up an interesting groove and then, because they are so short, stop without making any real use of it. They do not function as 'movements' in any classical sense, nor do they coalesce into larger-scale structures in the manner of, for instance, Ned Rorem's String Quartet No 4 reviewed here earlier this year. In the end, the work is the most accessible but least satisfying of the three. Individual movements are good fun but one wishes that Didkovsky had done more with his material.

Commissioning new works is always a gamble. This one has paid off rather well, with one excellent piece and a very good one. I'm afraid the disc will still not have mass-market appeal, though: the sound is excellent and the playing is brilliant but the music is challenging.

Copyright © 26 December 2006 Malcolm Tattersall, Townsville, Australia


Meridian Arts Ensemble - Brink

CCS SA 23206 DSD SACD Stereo/Surround 5.0 NEW RELEASE 53'37" 2006 Channel Classics Records bv

John Ferrari, drums; Daniel Grabois, horn; Benjamin Herrington, trombone; Brian McWhorter, trumpet; Jon Nelson, trumpet; Raymond Stewart, tuba

David Sanford: Corpus (Antiphon; Introit; Shot; Kreuz/Männer; De Profundis; Sermon); Elliott Sharp: Beyond the Curve; Nick Didkovsky: Slim in Beaten Dreamers (Steamier Sinner Blamed; An Idle Saint Remembers; Terrible as Mean Denims; Meanie Master Blinders; Beastlier Madmen Risen; Mere Brains is Lamented; Miserable Sinner Mated; Denser Mealtime Brains; Last Inane Dismemberer; Remedial, Eminent Brass; Manliest Base Reminder; Able, Saner Determinism; A Mean, Dim Terribleness; Steamier Limb Ensnared; Merriest, Blamed, Insane)



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