JOHN CARBON (b.1951): 5 Madeleines, 3 Impromptus, Astro Dogs: 12 Zodiacal Pieces.
Catalogue Number: 11W058
Label: Convivium Records
Description: Attractive, tonal pieces, full of character and charm. The piano writing displays a thorough familiarity with the potential of the instrument, though extravagant virtuosity is not the point here; these works are more about telling stories or painting vivid little pictures. Madeleines are impressions of a youthful trip to France, inspired by the Proustian flood of memories resulting from biting into one of these small cakes. These character pieces include a sultry portrait of a young boy of the streets with a criminal profession, promenades in rain, and around a zoo; and pensive moments in a Parisian café. Not surprisingly, there is more than a whiff of early 20th century French piano music here and there. Three Impromptus are cast firmly in the Romantic mold, and the composer’s models are clearly Schubert, Brahms, and especially Chopin. They form a very satisfying, and not insubstantial, neo-romantic set. Astro Dogs comprises twelve diverse character pieces which explore the amusing conceit of an astrological zodiac based on the character of different dog breeds. Dog lovers may wonder at the character assigned to their favorite pet in some cases, and it seems that the composer’s music is associated as much with the origins and associations of the breeds than the personalities of individual dogs. For example, the Presa Canario and (unexpectedly sedate) Chihuahua both allude to their Hispanic origins with a suggestion of a habanera rhythm. Very enjoyable, beautifully written, and again with a sense of French flair and elegance and Chopinesque harmonies. Steven Graff (piano).