|Louise Chan, piano, and Kate Carter, violin, explore American music for duo.|
Kate Carter, violin, and Louise Chan, piano, have a partnership that finds joy in these interpretations of Norman Dello Joio, William Bolcom, John Adams, and Paul Schoenfeld.
The compositions come from various segments of conservative modernism. The mood ranges from nostalgic to the contemporary American scene. Nostalgia, artfully resurfaced, animates the closing composition, "Four Souvenirs" by Schoenfeld. The idioms the composer draws upon are signaled by the movement titles: Samba, Tango, Tin Pan Alley, and Square Dance. The choice of the word "souvenirs" prepares the listener not to expect more than affectionate reminders of four treasured popular musical idioms native to the Western Hemisphere. This is light music that lives up to its function.
A more oblique take on Americana, with the theme of America hitting the road, is the choice of Adams in "Road Movies." The personalized form of minimalism that Adams has developed over four prolific decades gets an intimate duo representation here in "Relaxed Groove," "Meditative," and "40% Swing."
The disc starts off winningly with Dello Joio's "Variations and Capriccio." The first movement shows consistent ingenuity in making the most of its simple theme through the variation technique. The second has the zestful flavor of an excellent dessert wine.
The piece I'm likely to return to most often is Bolcom's Second Sonata. It covers the most terrain of anything on the program. The composer has always seemed exuberantly restless, and seeks to keep listeners surprised a little off-guard; this sonata is in that vein. "Brutal, Fast," the second movement, follows hard on the heels of the floating "Summer Dreams." A winsome slow movement sets up the classic-jazz-inflected finale, "In Memory of Joe Venuti."
Each of the four compositions bodies forth a distinctive personality. In every case, Chan and Carter display solid partnership and show insight into and sympathy with what the composers represented are about. Violin and piano tone alike is of a superior order, and the affection the duo surely has for these pieces is evident in the warmth and vigor of the performances.