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Review of Concertos II CD from American Record Guide

posted Oct 25, 2010, 10:33 AM by Ross Bauer   [ updated Nov 1, 2010, 10:20 PM ]

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.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Barry Kilpatrick,
American Record Guide