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Paul Lansky chamber music

Etudes and Parodies (2004) for horn, violin and piano
William Purvis, French horn; Curtis Macomber, violin Mihae Lee, piano

Semi-Suite (2001) for guitar
David Starobin, guitar

Ricercare Plus (2000, 2004) for string quartet
Brentano String Quartet




Music of Richard Wernick

Quintet for Horn and String Quartet (2003)
William Purvis, horn
Juilliard String Quartet

Da'ase (1996)
David Starobin, guitar

String Quartet No. 6 (1998)
Colorado Quartet
Trochaic Trot, David Starobin, guitar
The Name of the Game (2001)
David Starobin, guitar
International Contemporary Ensemble
Cliff Colnot, conductor


Two American composers in their 60s, these discs of music composed in the last decade or so share input from hornist William Purvis, from string quartets and both feature David Starobin, leading light of Bridge Records.

Lansky has progressed from computers and electronics to composing for live instruments. He has a self-deprecating tendency, with jokey titles. The works here seem not bound to be given as a whole, and groups of pieces should fit in well to lighten many a chamber concert, without the music being too simplistic. One time hornist with the Dorian Wind Quintet, he writes well for Purvis who ranges widely, soloing and blending in the ensemble. Something to vary programmes, say with the Brahms &/or the Ligeti?

The same goes for the Semi-Suite for guitar; there are some piquant pieces loosely derived from baroque models; a few of them will go down well in any guitar recital. But I thought the longest, Aimless Air, was just that...The string quartet is attractive and the Brentanos bring to it sonorous, dark tone.

wernick, pictured throwing paper away, was surprised on researching horn trios , to find none! His exploits the instrument's huge range of register and dynamics and its flexibility, with the central movement asserting its independence as well as abecoming part of the general texture. It will surely inspire other composers to help fill the gap.

Wernick is more of a 'modernist' than Lansky, enjoying number games, as in the musical letters of Starobin's name for the last of the three commissions here.

Both are recommendable to chamber musicians seeking to expand their repertoire, and to chamber music enthusiasts in general.

Peter Grahame Woolf