David's Review Corner
, August 2008
If you live outside of the United States the name of Stanley Walden might not spring to mind, though he was among the most prolific American composers in the second half of the Twentieth century. His works cross every musical border, from avant garde classical through to film music and musicals, the latter including the top selling Oh! Calcutta!. I resist listing his many other achievements as He was also a performing clarinetist, conductor and that of an actor and stage director. Here we have a survey of some recent chamber and instrumental works. Charles Ives is lurking behind Maquettes, commissioned and played by the husband and wife team of Robert Levin and Ya-Fei Chuang. Sh’mah for violin and cello is based on Jewish melodies, and as such is a mainly tonal work; Five Similes are each dedicated to a friend or colleague, and again I hear the guiding hand of Ives; the Horn Trio is yet another work that was propelled by the terrorist raid on New York’s Twin Towers. If you want Walden at his most convincing start with the opening track, Maquettes, challenging, dynamic and full of high-velocity virtuosity.Though the performances from Spectrum Concerts Berlin show considerable technical expertise, I am not going to pretend that this is music I would personally want to live with, but it and this disc is important in showing the way atonalist composition in the States is heading. Excellent sound quality.