21st Century American Piano TriosJENNIFER HIGDON (b.1962): Love Sweet (w/Sarah Shafer [soprano]), WILLIAM DAVID COOPER (b.1986): Aus den Wassern zu Babel, GILAD COHEN (b.1980): Around the Cauldron, REINALDO MOYA (b.1984): Ghostwritten Variations, JAKUB CIUPINSKI (b.1981): The Black Mirror, SOFIA BELIMOVA (b.2000): Titania and her Suite.
Catalogue Number: 01W061
Label: First Hand Records
Description: This recording of world premières, all intimately associated with the Lysander Trio in one way or another, was assembled to demonstrate the quality and diversity of music for piano trio being written today - all the works were composed in the past decade, and all but one of the composers was born since 1980 - and in this it succeeds very well. The pieces are all very different, but all are thoroughly approachable and predominantly tonal. Cohen draws influences from a wide range of musics outside the sphere of ‘classical' concert music - his PhD thesis was on the music of Pink Floyd - and the pulsing rhythms, electric guitar effects and 'grooves' of his hugely enjoyable rollicking suite of illustrations of the scene of the three witches from Shakespeare's Macbeth form a sort of musical equivalent of a "graphic novel" reinterpretation of the play. Moya "ghost writes" pieces in the style of four fictional composers from literature; Adrian Leverkühn has long been known to be a veiled commentary on Schönberg, so his variation resembles the Verklärte Nacht period; the put-upon Frobisher of "Cloud Atlas" realises the dramatic drive of Ayrs' dynamic musical vision; Peter Els, of Richard Powers' "Orpheo" encodes his compositional DNA in precise structures, systems and patterns; the strange instrument in Kim Stanley Robinson's "The Memory of Whiteness" sounds in rich, full, unearthly textures. Of her song cycle on selected poems of Amy Lowell, Higdon writes: “The layout of the poetry reflects the trajectory of a relationship: from birth to death." The music is tonal and neo-romantic, the muffled pizzicato and leaden drums evoked by hand-muted piano strings heighten the texts' descriptive vividness. Cooper's variations draw on the "By the Waters of Babylon ..." Psalm. The music is highly chromatic and concentrated, following a dark dramatic arc in a language redolent of the intersection of romanticism and expressionism at the junction of the 19th and 20th centuries. Ciupiński's Black Mirror is an 18th century optical device that miniaturised and reduced the contrast in landscape scenes. The work is a highly effective piece of post-minimalism, built on a gradually evolving piano motif, hypnotic and meditative, initially surrounded by a haze of harmonic effects from the strings, haunting and intangible, like looking at a scene from long ago through the wrong end of a telescope, but gradually gaining in immediacy and presence. Lysander Piano Trio.