, November 2007
songs…are profoundly moving and beautiful.
To read the complete review, please visit Fanfare online.
David's Review Corner
, June 2007
Though born in Michigan in 1917, Robert Erickson has become
known as one of the highly fertile group of composers working in California
during the second-half of the 20th century. Once arrived in San Francisco he
was became involved in college teaching, acting as tutor to a whole generation
of American composers, while also working as Music Director for a West Coast
radio station. Sadly he was plagued with ill-health which curtailed his own
output as a composer, though as this disc shows he had a highly fertile imagination
in the field of sonorities, and experimented in microtonality and electronic
music. The disc contains two late works, Recent Impressions having been
commissioned by Continuum in 1987 and scored for thirteen instruments including
a solo piano. Undoubtedly of its time - though Copland flits around in the background
- it is also a piece that is readily accessible to conservative ears, the score
having a transparency and interesting use of the mixed string and woodwind ensemble.
Written the previous year, Two Songs for mezzo, clarinet, viola and piano,
is to words by Erickson, there content obviously reflecting the autumn of his
life. They are modern art songs, to my ears less attractive than the previous
work. High Flyer is for solo flute which at one stage is asked to speak
into the mouthpiece. Like so many pieces written in the 1960's its interesting,
but I question its lasting value. Summer Music is haunting piece
slow moving music for violin and tape, the tape providing a chattering backdrop
that becomes more active as the work draws to a close. The violin part is rhapsodic,
its mood handed down from Ernest Bloch, who presumably worked with Erickson
briefly at the University of California in Berkeley. The performances can be
taken at face value as a dedicated response to a composer much admired by Continuum.
Very good 1980's sound derived from a Musical Heritage LP.
12:43:41 PM, 21 October 2014
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