JOSEPH FENNIMORE (b.1940): Cathay, Tourmaline (On the Loss of a Jewel), Romances Nos. 1, 3, 5, 9 & 13.
Catalogue Number: 07L095
Reference: TROY 1123
Description: Elegant and sophisticated, these approachable compositions are firmly grounded in tonality, and pay tribute to the piano traditions of the classical and romantic eras in grateful and natural piano writing that must be a delight to perform as well as to listen to. Cathay consists of a suite of character pieces, some with poetical superscripts, on or around ideas of time and place - archaic and picturesque. Clichés of western Chinoiserie are wittily incorporated into a satisfyingly coherent and un-ironic whole. Tourmaline is a set of variations on a freely treated ostinato (subject to small changes in content and shifts of register much as practised by Sorabji in his many variation sets). An in memoriam piece, moreover commissioned by a harpsichordist, it has a clearly defined narrative thread, and makes intermittent use of harpsichord-like figurative decoration. The Romances are Fennimore's take on emotionally lush Romantic cliché, slyly suggesting darker, unstable undercurrents to what superficially present themselves as salonesque trifles directly evolved from late-19th century models. Jeffrey Middleton (piano).