Thursday, February 3, 2011

The Concorde Music Ensemble's "Reflections:" Music of the Past Decade

The music of the last ten years illustrates even more vividly the trend of the past 20 years. In the area of contemporary classical music, multi-stylistic expression and a creative eclecticism prevail. No one school of composition dominates. The musical signposts of classical composition from around 1900 through to 2011 are all present on the map of what's being written today. And certain inclusions of folk and vernacular influences are present that perhaps have not heretofore been a part of the various approaches of the recent past as well.

That is clear and also very well illustrated by Ireland's Concorde Contemporary Music Ensemble and their new CD Reflections (Navona 5835). The album features five composers and works from the past decade that call upon anything from a mid-sized chamber ensemble to a duet. The composers are from a wide variety of backgrounds, but all share a commitment to making a music that is embedded in the world we live in today. The five composers, Alejandro Castanos, Jane O'Leary, Stephen Gardner, Judith Ring and Si-Hyun Yi each weigh in with a distinctive work. Highlights include Castanos' "Angulos" which has a lively rhythmic thrust and some of the best writing for temple blocks I have heard! Gardner's "Klezmeria" uses Klezmer related themes for a thoroughly charming clarinet-violin duet.

Through the various compositions a near-constant is the very formidable bass clarinet of Harry Sparnaay. He sounds beautiful.

If you want some very new music that is advanced without necessarily jarring loose the fillings in your teeth, seek no further.

It is a definite feather in the cap of the Concorde Ensemble, who plays these pieces beautifully, as it is a fascinating introduction to some very new music and new composers. Recommended.

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