The Flexible Orchestra, Tara Simoncic, conductor; Moran Katz, clarinet; Momenta Quartet: Emilie-Anne Gendron, Alex Shiozaki, violins; Stephanie Griffin, viola; Michael Haas, cello; Pauline Kim, violin; Joseph Kubera, piano
If you ask a random group of people familiar with contemporary classical music to categorize the style or type of music that Daniel Goode (b. 1936) creates, you would probably receive as many answers as the number of people in that grouping: minimalist, gamelan, process, improvised, folk-based, solo, chamber, orchestral, spoken word, electro-acoustic, intermedia, graphic, and more.
This CD features two types of instrumental music: solo/small ensemble music and orchestral (or, to be more precise, music for Flexible Orchestra). Of AnnCela Express, written for the latter, Goode notes, “I was going to make the whole of AnnCela Express out of a traditional Serbian tune I heard on a movie soundtrack, called in English, roughly, ‘Don’t ride the horse, young man, with your head down,’ but it didn’t turn out that way, exactly. This tune does appear a few minutes into my piece played by the clarinet, but exits pretty soon, leaving a glow, a trace that becomes the armature on which the final slow dance rotates.”
Piano Sonata #2 (2015) is subtitled “Memories of Pre-Minimalism, 1959 and Now.” It uses material from a very early piano suite composed in 1959. It is deceptively simple, and yet is complex, presenting challenges for the pianist. Clarinet Quintet (2015), which is in one movement and is inspired by Brahms’s great Clarinet Quintet, opus 115, uses two short quotes from it. The piece is engrossing with its subtle changes juxtaposed with sudden outbursts. Sonata for Violin and Piano (2014) takes you for a romp, with at times a flurry of notes, but then ends wistfully, floating off like a balloon into the ether at the end.
Although all of the pieces on this CD were written in the 2000s, they seem to cover a much wider span of time by the use of self-referential techniques used throughout his compositional career. There are memorable melodies that evoke a nostalgia for the past, be it the lushness of Mahler and Bruckner or the use of folk melodies, be they real or imagined. There are the sudden changes in mood, from stillness to busyness, slow to fast. Even though the pieces on this CD are through-written, they maintain the kind of spontaneity heard in his more experimental pieces for open instrumentation and structured improvisation. And overall, they have a sense of joyous movement apparent in all of his work.
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"Intensely engaging and hypnotic" --Fanfare Magazine