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A leitmotif for the disc, one of neo-classical tunefulness, is the interpolation of movements from Rudolf Lerich's likeable Sonata, between the more extended works. The Handel and Vivaldi pieces are probably much better known but still fit well with the disc's programme without detracting from the new(er) music also being showcased. Markus Zahnhausen's music inquieta reminds me, at least in places, of the Gaelic caoine, but the single most compulsive listening experience has to be Couperin's gorgeous, flowing Barricades Mystérieuses (for harpsichord alone). A set of characterful English masques from 1600 completes the recital.
This is a wonderful disc for the recorder aficionado but it also ought to draw a much wider appeal. The Cronin Suite is both highly accessible and very moving (and well worthy of its inspiration) but all the "new" music here and much of the old is well worth your attention. Many performers are now doing full justice to the recorder as a serious instrument (the brilliant John Turner more than most in this country!) and Tamara Gries is to be congratulated on recording such an interesting, stimulating and ultimately moving selection of works.
BRATTLEBRO REFORMER (USA):
The players of the supporting instruments -- basoon, harpsichord, violins, viola, celli and double bass -- must share the playing honors with the star.
The modern works are surprisingly beautiful (no tonal rows here to interest the musician and bore the general public). I have already played and will be playing this one many times for restful ambient music and I feel you will too.
My misgivings have to do with the Baroque pieces. They are dutifully, solidly, and rigidly done. The best example of this is found in their performance of Handel’s Sonata in C Major. The opening Larghetto briskly chugs along with little sense of the piece’s cantabile style. The following movements are metrically stolid and undercharacterized. In all cases the playing is technically on the mark, but it misses a lot of the style of this music, not to mention its poetry. For a telling comparison, older collectors are urged to go back to the ancient Telefunken Das Alte Werk LP containing this sonata along with three others of the Opus 1 set (SAWT 9421-B) and featuring recordist Frans Bruggen, harpsichordist Gustav Leonhardt, and cellist Anner Bylsma. And, by the way, share it with some of your younger enthusiasts.
Gries and friends are more convincing in Masques , where they project a lot more of the music’s gutsy panache. Their performances of the contemporary pieces, however, present the high point of this release. The three composers—Rudolf Lerich, Stephen Cronin, and Markus Zahnhausen—are tonal and neo-Classical in style. Each, however, has his own strongly defined profile, and each receives fine advocacy here. I would like to tell you more about them, but the fragmentary notes, largely dedicated to describing what can be readily heard, give no biographical data other than to say that “Stephen Cronin is a significant figure among Australia’s established younger composers.” Are the other two Aussies as well? Where and with whom did they study? I would like to know, as I am sure you will, too, when you listen to their music.