Brubeck/Gandolfi/Foss (2 World Premiere Recordings)

Concord Chamber Music Society

(2 press reviews)
Original Recording Format: PCM 176.4 kHz
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Brubeck/Gandolfi/Foss performed by the Concord Chamber Music Society on the Reference Recordings label, features World Premiere Recordings by Chris Brubeck and Michael Gandolfi. They are two of America’s most-commissioned composers with music that is both accessible and adventurous. In just its second recording, the Lukas Foss duo for violin and piano, Central Park Reel, hints at a characteristic dance often accompanied by a bluegrass band.

Grammy award winning engineer Prof. Keith Johnson did an outstanding job of recording this music in the superb natural acoustics of Mechanics Hall in Worcester, Massachusetts, an historic 19th Century landmark. Johnson’s approach exemplifies the label’s pursuit of the absolute sound: capturing special music in outstanding spaces.

Chris Brubeck bears one of the most distinguished names in American music as the son of jazz musician and composer Dave Brubeck. Growing up with his father’s wide-ranging musical activities always present, it is not surprising that his own musical world is both wide and inclusive. He plays a number of instruments, sings, and composes in both Jazz and Classical genres. Danza del Soul is scored for a colorful sextet of violin, piano, clarinet, cello, acoustic bass and percussion. Its stylistic mixture of traditional Chamber Music with elements of Jazz was cheered enthusiastically at its 2010 Tanglewood Music Festival premiere with these musicians.

A native and lifelong resident of the Boston area, Michael Gandolfi began his musical involvement in Rock and Jazz improvisation as a self-taught guitarist. His increasing skill in improvisation drew him to composition, and he began formal study in his early teens. Gandolfi frequently finds musical inspiration in art and literature. Line Drawings derives its musical ideas from drawings of Pablo Picasso. He notes, “None of my pieces is tethered to a precise Picasso drawing but they are written in the spirit of the Picasso works: concise, clear, written with a sense of immediacy and sureness of ‘stroke,’ light and ‘airy.’ This trio for violin, clarinet and piano is full of variety and vitality, a rewarding listen.”

In just its second recording, the Lukas Foss duo for violin and piano, Central Park Reel, hints cheerfully at a kind of musical twin bill. “Central Park” suggests a scene in New York but “Reel” hints at a characteristic dance often accompanied by a bluegrass band. The work was designed to represent American music overseas, so it is no surprise that Foss chose a vernacular style like bluegrass fiddle playing and converted it into a lively “country” piece that still hints, here and there, at the big city.

The Concord Chamber Music Society (CCMS) was founded by Boston Symphony Orchestra violinist Wendy Putnam in January 2000. CCMS presents a yearly series of chamber music concerts in Concord, Massachusetts, and sponsors a variety of educational outreach initiatives throughout the region. These accomplished, dedicated and hard-working artists include Boston Symphony Orchestra musicians, members of acclaimed chamber ensembles, and faculty members of musical institutions, including the Juilliard School and the New England Conservatory of Music.

Concord Chamber Music Society
Wendy Putnam, Violin
Owen Young, Cello
Lawrence Wolfe, Bass
Thomas Martin, Clarinet
Vytas Baksys, Piano
Daniel Bauch, Percussion


Please note that the below previews are loaded as 44.1 kHz / 16 bit.
Danza del Soul - Introductions and Flirtations
Danza del Soul - The Loneliness of Secrets
Danza del Soul - Celebration de Vida
Line Drawings - Canon, Cut and Paste
Line Drawings - A Farewell to Old Friends
Line Drawings - Hidden Variable
Line Drawings - Obbligato Aria
Line Drawings - Chickens
Central Park Reel

Total time: 01:03:19

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Original Recording Format

Release DateApril 18, 2023

Press reviews

Audiophile Audition 5 out of 5

In the chatty notes to this recording, we learn that the inspiration for the commissioning of Chris Brubeck’s Danza del Soul came on the night the composer’s Convergence was premiered by the Boston Pops. Wendy Putnam, violinist with the Concord Chamber Music Society, had performed a violin concerto during the concert and was unwinding afterward when she struck up a conversation with Brubeck. Additional serendipity was provided by the fact that clarinetist Thomas Martin had been the soloist in Convergence.

Brubeck (son of Dave, in case you were wondering) worked closely with the ensemble, reportedly tailoring the music to the individual personalities of the players and making revisions based on an initial run-through of the piece. One aspect of the work that is only hinted at in a recording is the bit of theatrics that Brubeck springs on his audience in a live performance: the clarinetist starts the piece, playing all alone on stage “before the audience is fully settled in their seats. Interrupted by a series of offstage violin flourishes, the clarinetist (as directed in the music) looks increasingly annoyed as the violin pierces the clarinet reverie several times.” At last, the violinist walks on stage and strikes up a duet with the clarinet, to be joined by cellist and then double bassist, who run out one by one and assert themselves. The percussionist follows and then the pianist, who “leaps in (followed by the out-of-breath page turner) and launches into a cadenza,” after which “a more traditional presentation of the music continues.”

All of the Concord Chamber Music Society players seem to be having a great time with these lively, intelligent pieces, and as a result, I had a lot of fun listening. The wonderfully realistic sound from Reference Recordings makes for smooth listening too.

Enjoy The Music

“Pleasant” is almost always a pejorative word in a review, a classic case of damning with faint praise. But Reference Recordings’ vivid-sounding new album of contemporary chamber music would be “deeply pleasant” if such a thing could be said — we can settle on “highly pleasing.”

Chris Brubeck and Michael Gandolfi, both in their late 50s, contribute genial works, jazz-and-pop-inflected, that work well together and are followed neatly by an “urban bluegrass” piece by the recently deceased, constantly self-reinventing Lukas Foss.


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