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CD Review

Poetry in Motion

  • Adrienne Albert: Doppler Effect
  • Dan Locklair: Dream Steps -- A Dance Suite
  • Barcaroles and Recitatives
  • Awakenings
  • Bars of Blues
  • Ballade in Sarabande
  • Barcaroles
  • Claude Debussy: Sonata for Flute, Viola, and Harp
  • Pastorale: Lento, dolce rubato
  • Interlude: Tempo di Minuetto
  • Final: Allegro moderato ma risoluto
  • Manuel Moreno-Buendia: Suite Popular Española
  • Divertimento
  • Fantasia
  • Danza
  • Nocturno
  • Rondo
  • Sonny Burnette: Cruisin' with the Top Down
Fire Pink Trio
MSR Classics MS1511 63:08
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Here is a disc of mostly contemporary chamber music performed by the Fire Pink Trio (Debra Reuter-Pivetta, flute; Sheila Browne, viola; Jacquelyn Bartlett, harp), a group formed in 2008 who make their recording debut here. It is not the recording debut of the individual members, however, as each has appeared on various recordings over the years. Moreover, all three have impressive resumes and, if I can judge from the performances on this disc, impressive talent as well. The unusual combination of flute, viola and harp is a refreshing one, at least to my ears, and fortunately, all the music on this disc, aptly titled Poetry in Motion, was actually written for that combination and thus does not involve arrangements.

The opening piece, Doppler Effect (1998), by Adrienne Albert (b. 1941), is an engaging work, upbeat and catchy. Yes, it's light and whimsical, but quite brilliantly crafted and the trio performs it with spirit and total commitment. The ensuing selection, Dream Steps – A Dance Suite (1993), by Dan Locklair (b. 1949) is quite light too, even though it has a few serious moments. It also contains some very colorful sonic effects, particularly in the first of its five movements, Barcarolles and Recitatives. The third movement Bars of Blues, lasting about five minutes, is the longest but also the perkiest. The ensuing Ballade in Sarabande, with its spooky knocking effects, is the most haunting. A fine work: with quotes from J.S. Bach and Spirituals, the music is well imagined, quite individual and memorable, and the writing sounds native to each instrument. Again, the trio plays splendidly.

The Debussy Sonata (1915) is of course the centerpiece here, being the one work with a good measure of popularity and the first major composition scored for the instrumental combination of flute, viola and harp. Oddly, while it's a landmark piece, it's the one Debussy work you usually don't associate with Impressionism: the composer modeled it on Baroque trio sonata forms as employed by Couperin and Rameau. It's rather a dreamy and pastoral work in the first two of its three movements, with the finale breaking away somewhat in its lively and somewhat exotic character. The flute gets more attention throughout the work and Ms. Reuter-Pivetta plays brilliantly. Not that the other players, Ms. Browne and Ms. Bartlett, aren't just as spirited and virtuosic – they are indeed, and the performance on the whole meshes so well.

Manuel Moreno-Buendia's Suite Popular Española is a five movement work of great color and lightness. It begins with the delightfully playful Divertimento, and moves onto the dreamy and exotic Fantasia, a piece of haunting mood and imaginative instrumental writing. Danza is infectious in its rhythmic bounce and sunny music, while Nocturno manages to entertain without sun, but with the most engaging and pleasant night music – listen to the mesmerizing, swirling sul ponticello sounds of the viola. Rondo closes out the work with chipper and slightly exotic music that uses a theme by Gaspar Sanz that was also borrowed by Rodrigo in his Fantasia para un gentilhombre. After listening to this beguiling Moreno-Buendia work, I wondered why it wasn't more popular. Well, perhaps this utterly convincing performance by the Fire Pink Trio will help increase its currency.

The concluding piece, Cruisin' With the Top Down (2000) by Sonny Burnette (b. 1952) is a charming work that features upbeat and sometimes jazzy music, as well as an infectious carefree sense. Again, performances are excellent from all players. The sound reproduction on this MSR disc is clear and well balanced and the album notes by Benjamin K. Roe are enlightening. Recommended – even listeners hesitant to sample music for this particular combination of instruments should find this disc enjoyable.

Copyright © 2015, Robert Cummings