Charles Wuorinen: Ashberyana; Fenton Songs

Charles Wuorinen: Ashberyana; Fenton Songs

5.0 1
by Da Camera of Houston
     
 

This collection of mostly vocal works by Charles Wuorinen is notable in several respects and has gained appropriate publicity. It is a product of the growing contemporary music scene in Houston, TX, which has apparently begun to find ways to build on the substantial presence of modern art in that city for which rising oil prices are good news. And, more importantly,… See more details below

Overview

This collection of mostly vocal works by Charles Wuorinen is notable in several respects and has gained appropriate publicity. It is a product of the growing contemporary music scene in Houston, TX, which has apparently begun to find ways to build on the substantial presence of modern art in that city for which rising oil prices are good news. And, more importantly, it gives general listeners a chance to start coming to grips with the atonal and often difficult music of New Yorker Charles Wuorinen, a Pulitzer Prize winner of the sort who has never commanded public affection or even attention. The key here is the opening "Ashberyana," a set of four songs commissioned by Da Camera of Houston. The densely wordy poetry of John Ashbery, Romantic in its lushness despite its complexity, proves to be the perfect foil for Wuorinen's abstract but sensuous style. As director Sarah Rothenberg in her excellent booklet puts it, "The focus of Wuorinen's investigations in music is music itself. Herein lies a deep affinity with the poet John Ashbery, who never ceases to be amazed by language." The rhythms of Wuorinen's music complement Ashbery's lines in an absorbing way, and the unusual texture of the work -- an ongoing dialogue between a baritone and a trombone, with supporting decoration by a string quartet and a piano -- keeps the listener's focus anchored. The important role of polyphony in Wuorinen's music is also illustrated by the concluding "Josquiniana," a set of six adaptations -- arrangements is not quite the right word -- of Josquin's chansons for string quartet. The ways in which Wuorinen uses texture ornaments to elaborate the polyphonic structure leads the listener back into the two sets of "Fenton Songs," and the Josquin pieces might profitably have been put in the middle of the program. All the performances are lively and engaged, and the text intelligibility of baritone Leon Williams (in the Ashbery work) almost makes the provided texts, in English only, unnecessary. While Wuorinen is certainly not for everybody (and, like Camel filters, doesn't try to be), this is an unusually accessible rendering of his work.

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Product Details

Release Date:
04/29/2008
Label:
Naxos American
UPC:
0636943937723
catalogNumber:
8559377
Rank:
284967

Tracks

  1. Ashberyana, for voice, trombone, string quartet & piano  - Charles Wuorinen  - Charles Wuorinen  - John Ashbery  - Rene Magritte  -  Da Camera of Houston  - Leon Williams
  2. Praegustatum, for piano  - Charles Wuorinen  - Rene Magritte  - Sarah Rothenberg
  3. Fenton Songs No. 1 for voice, violin, cello & piano  - Charles Wuorinen  - Rene Magritte  - Lucy Shelton  - James Fenton  -  Da Camera of Houston
  4. Fenton Songs No. 2, for voice, violin, cello & piano  - Charles Wuorinen  - Rene Magritte  - Lucy Shelton  - James Fenton  -  Da Camera of Houston
  5. Ave Christie of Josquin, for piano  - Charles Wuorinen  - Rene Magritte  - Sarah Rothenberg
  6. Josquiniana, for string quartet  - Charles Wuorinen  - Rene Magritte  -  Brentano String Quartet

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