Some Press About Sequitur:

Brion; 2 Songs from Silas Marner; Sindbad; Exiles
by Robert Carl, Fanfare Magazine
03/01/2011

Brion; 2 Songs from Silas Marner; Sindbad; Exiles
by Carson Cooman, Fanfare Magazine
03/01/2011

CD review: Harold Meltzer, "Brion, Sindbad, Exiles"
by Joshua Kosman, San Francisco Chronicle
10/31/2010

Sounds Heard: Harold MeltzeróBrion; Sindbad; Exiles
by Frank J. Oteri, New Music Box
10/26/2010

Concertos II
by Kilpatrick, American Record Guide
07/30/2010

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Concertos II
by Kilpatrick, American Record Guide
07/30/2010

These concertos were commissioned by Sequitur, a New York new-music ensemble. Calling a piece for solo oboe with five players a concerto with chamber orchestra is a bit of a stretch, but that’s what Martin Matalon’s 15 minute Trame I (1997) is called here. It has five short movements where I, III, and V are built differently than II and IV. Matalon tells us what makes them different, but that’s helpful only if you really want to try to figure this complex little piece out. If not, sit back and listen to these new-music virtuosos show their stuff; it is very impressive. Oboist Jacqueline Leclair (faculty member at Bowling Green State University and the Manhattan School of Music) is assisted by bassoonist Peter Kolkay, horn player Dan Grabois, trumpeter Brian McWhorter, double bassist Kurt Muroki, and percussionist Matthew Gold. Steven Burke’s Over a Moving Landscape (2006) is a 15-minute concerto for bass clarinet with mixed nonet. The work came into being while Burke lived in a 9th-Century house where Picasso once lived and in the area where Van Gogh and Cezanne painted. Burke hopes it “conveys an unseen force, something more kinetic that imbues music with a unique power”. The first five minutes seem just that way: quiet but full of a restless, sweeping motion, not conventionally tonal but not unpleasant, either. Then things become animated, and if bass clarinetist Michael Lowenstern often seems to be part of the ensemble, we are at least aware that he is doing remarkable things. At 11 minutes the calmness of the opening returns, lulling us into thinking it will remain that way until the end. But no, first a twittering machine erupts for a few minutes, and then the work ends calmly. The final chord in low strings and harp is something to relish. Lowenstern’s ensemble consists of violinist Andrea Schultz, violist Dan Panner, cellist Caroline Stimson, bassist Muroki, flutist Patti Monson, clarinetist Jo-Ann Sternberg, horn player Grabois, percussionist Gold, and harpist June Han. Thin Ice (2006), by Ross Bauer (b 1951), best fits our notion that a concerto is a multi-movement work for soloist with orchestra. This four-movement, 23-minute piece is scored for solo cello with an orchestra of 14: woodwind quartet, brass trio, string quintet, harp, and percussion. I like Bauer’s brand of modernism; in a previous review, I said it is fascinating and superbly crafted with parts that place serious demands on the performers (Nov/Dec 2007). Ditto here, and these players are so good that you want to listen to them. Much of the piece has cellist Greg Hesselink playing long, impassioned lines and heading off in directions unknown. His lines are taken up and transformed by the ensemble. The sound is abstract, but there is such beauty in the ensemble parts that I find myself listening as much to it as to the soloist. It’s a little like a relay race where someone takes hold of a phrase someone else started, runs with it for a moment, and then passes it to the next person. It all happens so quickly and skillfully that we have to concentrate to notice it. In the livelier passages, these players make difficult lines sound easy. In the slow ones (especially the very slow III), their tone qualities make very dissonant sonorities sound beautiful. The orchestra in Thin Ice is the same as for Moving Landscape plus violinist Miranda Cuckson, oboist Leclair, and trombonist Ben Herrington.

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