DANIEL GOODE, “Annbling” = Annbling; Circular Thoughts; Sonata for Clarinet and Piano; Ländler Land – Daniel Goode, clar./Douglas Martin, p./ The Flexible Orchestra – New World

DANIEL GOODE, “Annbling” = Annbling; Circular Thoughts; Sonata for Clarinet and Piano; Ländler Land – Daniel Goode, clar./Douglas Martin, p./ The Flexible Orchestra – New World 80744-2, 60:38 [Distr. by Albany] (1/7/14) ***1/2:

Daniel Goode has been a very active participant in the New York new music and jazz scene for a while now. I have been casually aware of some of his own music as well but I had not heard any recently until this release and I find it very interesting, indeed. As a former student of Henry Cowell and Otto Luening I expected some “modern” sounds that do speak to a large audience.

From his own website notes, Mr. Goode considers Annbling (2006, rev. 2007; written for The Flexible Orchestra), a “trombone-dominated contemplation of Mahler’s Seventh Symphony, Bach’s Brandenburg Concertos, a Sundanese pop song, and the tragedy of post-Hurricane Katrina New Orleans”. That’s a lot of luggage for one work and the highly eclectic nature of this piece mostly succeeds. Annbling opens with a re-orchestrated nearly direct quotation from the beginning of Mahler’s Seventh Symphony, and ends with a rendition of a West Javanese popular song, “Tonggeret,” which Mr. Goode found on a commercial cassette of dance music while in Java in 1996. It is a highly unpredictable work that sometimes makes you wonder where it will lead or why. However, the trombone section does carry it forward and it does hold your interest with its wildly jazz-tinged flavor and rather “Ivesian” pastiche.

As a clarinetist, Goode learned circular breathing and developed his own approach to minimalism and “process music.” Goode’s Circular Thoughts (1974) for solo clarinet is among the earliest minimalist scores to be published. His own website comments that the work is also a “…guided improvisation (and) also a process piece with specific scales and suggestions about tempo, articulations, timbre, and dynamics”. As a clarinet work, it strikes me as interesting to play and challenging to be sure. I have played many solo works over the years and, while I do like this piece, it – like so many unaccompanied works – may or may not captivate an audience of non-players.

I did enjoy his Clarinet Sonata quite a bit more. This spiky and jazz influenced work is the earliest composed in this set (1960) and is said to reflect the composer’s early interests and influences. Goode admits to a neoclassical approach to the writing, the harmonic rhythm in particular. The Sonata is composed fast-slow-fast, three-movement “tour-de-force” similar in many ways, according to program notes, to the Poulenc Clarinet Sonata composed two years later. I see some of that analogy but I think the piece exists as a fairly unique work. This recording also showcases Dan Goode’s playing quite well. He has a nice tone and supple technique.

Ländler Land (1999 2000) is subtitled “a waltz for concert performance and dancing for three cellos and two pianos.” This is, simultaneously, a very interesting and very odd work in my opinion. From the composer’s web notes, Goode started Ländler Land while living briefly in Vienna, and it was influenced by a 1993 film called Latcho Drom about the music of the Roma people. It does have a catchy, danceable quality to it but it is also just a bit quirky; hard to predict but none the less enjoyable to listen to.

I was glad to rediscover the music of Daniel Goode. It occupies stylistic territory somewhere in between jazz and “new music.”  Not quite what most people think of in terms of “contemporary classical”, Goode’s music is really pretty unique. I do think most listeners would find something to enjoy here and should accept it for what it is and not what it isn’t.

—Daniel Coombs

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