JENNIFER HIGDON (b.1962): Sky Quartet, Viola Sonata, Amazing Grace for String Quartet, Dark Wood for Bassoon and Piano, String Trio.
Catalogue Number: 08P082
Description: An appealing and varied selection of previously unrecorded works, all in Higdon's customary thoroughly tonal idiom. The 1988 Trio is more chromatically unsettled than much of Higdon's later output, but there is no suggestion that the young composer went through an aggressively modernist phase, and the piece is entirely successful on its own terms. Elsewhere, the composer's familiar use of driving rhythmic ostinati and rich tonal harmony are very much in evidence. Dark Wood, a propulsively lively display piece for the bassoon, is especially memorable, with vigorous outer sections framing a lovely melodic section. The Quartet celebrates the immense skies of the American west, in four characterful and atmospheric movements, while the Viola Sonata makes much of the instrument's rich tone, in ample and expressive dialogue with the piano. Serafin String Quartet, Charles Abramovic (piano), Eric Stomberg (bassoon).