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Henry Fogel
Fanfare, November 2007

songs…are profoundly moving and beautiful.

To read the complete review, please visit Fanfare online.

David Denton
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.

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