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Utterly Absorbing

A sampler from
Cedille Records -
enjoyed by

'... top quality standards.'

Cedille on the move - High-Energy Tracks from Chicago's Classical Record Label. © 2009 Cedille Records

Cedille Records is the independent record label of The Chicago Classical Recording Foundation inaugurated in 1989 by James Ginsburg, then a law student at the University of Chicago.

Be advised, this is a Cedille sampler disc. Nothing wrong with that. But forewarned is forearmed. The programme certainly has excellent variety and always meets Cedille's undeviating, top quality standards.

Imagine the buzz while at your workout with these seventeen energizing 'classics' on your mini-player or iPod. What a coup to block out the unrelenting, earful of aural 'garbage' commercial gymnasiums insist on foisting at their clientele.

Two of these tracks have come my way before on complete CDs; full reviews can be found as follows: track 1, John Adams at Roadworthy -- Modern American music for violin and piano and track 13, Robert Schumann, at Positively Inspirational -- Jennifer Koh plays Schumann.

For the rest I was especially taken by track 3 (Erwin Schulhoff), track 12 (William Molique), track 15 (Joseph White), and track 16 (David Leisner).

Erwin Schulhoff, who was born in Prague in 1894 and died at Wülzburg concentration camp near Weißenburg, Bavaria, in 1942, is represented by the effervescent, dancing Zingaresca from his Duo for Violin and Cello. Violinist Rachel Barton Pine and Wendy Warner, cello, appear to revel in the musical collage of pizzicati, harmonics and in your face 'Bohemian' bravura.

Listen -- Schulhoff: Zingaresca
(track 3, 0:00-1:00) © 2009 Cedille Records

Another thoroughly delightful item is the Rondo from Molique's Flute Concerto in D minor, Op 69. Wilhelm Bernhardt Molique (1802-1869) was a German violinist born in Nuremberg. He learned to play the violin at the University of Munich under Pietro Rovelli. In 1826 he became music-director at Stuttgart. As a composer for the violin, Molique was commonly compared with Louis Spohr. He wrote a single oratorio, six violin concertos, a number of chamber works and some charming songs.

The 'Rondo' is a tuneful, virtuosic finale; thoroughly in keeping with prevailing nineteenth century technical showmanship.

Listen -- Molique: Rondo (Flute Concerto Op 69)
(track 12, 5:53-6:51) © 2009 Cedille Records

Enterprising US virtuoso, Rachel Barton Pine has resurrected four concertos by forgotten Afro-American composers and track 15 brings us the dazzling five minute Allegro moderato from Cuban Joseph White's Violin Concerto in F sharp minor. In this movement White was surely influenced by Wieniawski, Vieuxtemps, and their contemporaries. Slight it may be but there's no doubting the craftsmanship and complete understanding of nineteenth century Euro-idiom.

Listen -- White: Allegro moderato (Violin Concerto in F sharp minor)
(track 15, 0:59-2:05) © 2009 Cedille Records

The 'flip-side' milieu of José Silvestre White (1835-1918) is revealed on a YouTube video : 'An experimental recording in 1924 by Thomas Alva Edison. La Bella Cubana, José White (composer)' was originally written for two violins and piano. 'La Bella Cubano- Habanera, performed by: El Trio Cubano -- violins and piano, record format: Edison Diamond Disc test pressing Matrix number: 9717-A-1-1.'

A far cry from characteristic rhythms of Cuban salsa, mambo, cha, cha cha and 'perreo' -- or tantalizing aromas of ropa vieja, black beans, yellow rice, plantains and fried yuca with beer.

David Leisner is a formidable guitarist, a distinguished composer, and a master teacher. In the 1980s he suffered focal hand dystonia (loss of motor control in one or more fingers), though now he is completely recovered. Leisner is currently co-chairman of the guitar department at the Manhattan School of Music and taught at the New England Conservatory for twenty-two years.

Recent seasons have taken him around the US and on tour in a dozen or more countries; among them New Zealand, Puerto Rico and the Czech Republic.

Listen -- Leisner: Extroverted
(track 16, 1:46-3:01) © 2009 Cedille Records

His Extroverted from Extremes for flute, clarinet and guitar traverses the interface of jazz and the classics with sinuous opening winds, a hauntingly reflective mid-section, and Leisner's swirling development to follow -- these are all utterly absorbing. [See also Tumbling -- David Leisner's 'Acrobats', reviewed by Malcolm Tattersall.]

Other composers spotlighted on the Cedille sampler are Coleridge Taylor Perkinson (USA, 1932-2004), Antonio Vivaldi (Italy, 1678-1741), Percy Grainger (Australia, 1882-1961), Franz Krommer (Czechoslovakia, 1759-1831), Carter Pann (USA, born 1972), David Diamond (USA, 1915-2005), Jan Vorisek (Czechoslovakia, 1791-1825), Franz Liszt (Hungary, 1811-1886), Easley Blackwood (USA, born 1933), Sebastian Huydts (Netherlands, born 1966), and Felix Mendelssohn (Germany, 1809-1847).

Blackwood (University of Chicago) is one of others (Dmitry Paperno, David Schrader, and Patrice Michaels) championed by Cedille. His compositional work is frequently complex, with chromatic, polyrhythmic textures. For this sampler however the Scherzo from his Cello Sonata is unfailingly approachable.

Listen -- Easley Blackwood: Scherzo (Cello Sonata)
(track 11, 3:05-4:09) © 2009 Cedille Records

Jan Václav Vorisek was born in the year of Mozart's death. By his teens (fifteen) Beethoven was thirty-six, and he passed away two years before Beethoven. From the Finale to his sole symphony (track 9) we hear more in common with the incipient Romanticism of early Beethoven than the typical classic style of Mozart. This engrossing work is bright and buoyant as played by the Czech National Symphony Orchestra with conductor Paul Freeman.

It's also available coupled with an Arriaga symphony; in a performance by the Scottish Chamber Orchestra, under Charles Mackerras (Hyperion CDA66800).

The breadth of repertoire in Cedille's new, shrewdly balanced sampler lends it sufficient interest to merit an easily accessed place in your CD collection. What better way to wind down after Tchaikovsky's 4th, Bruckner's 7th, Sibelius' 4th, Busoni's Piano Concerto or Berg's Lulu?

Copyright © 17 September 2009 Howard Smith,
Masterton, New Zealand














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