Compelling compositions by American Composer David Sampson

Dectet: The Music of David Sampson – Czech Philharmonic Orchestra/Paul Polivnick, American Brass Quintet – Albany Records CD Troy780 TT: 71:38 ****:

Albany Records offers this disc of the music of contemporary composer David Sampson. Born in Charlottesville, Virginia, Sampson is known for his orchestral works like Hommage: JFK, Simple Lives, and Reflections on a Dance (for brass and percussion).

Sampson is particularly fluent with brass music, and we get much of that on this disc, along with a sampling of his chamber music.

The first work is his Serenade for Flügelhorn and String Orchestra. It’s a well developed work, musically and rhythmically challenging, but played here in a lovely recording with a fine performance by the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra.

It’s followed by the composers Sonata Forty for Horn and Piano. It’s morose in places, energetic for the last movement, with a well structure interplay between the horn and piano.

Next is Strata for bras quintet. It’s an imaginative work, with varying moods, and it’s very nicely played by the American Brass Quintet, who seem to have a real affinity for this music.

The disc closes with Dectet, another work of surging energy, intelligence and emotion.

Sampson has created an interesting signature style. I’m reminded a bit of William Schuman and Vincent Persichetti, but Sampson’s works are not derivative of these composers, but is rather of a style that fans of these composers will find comfort in.

Albany is to be congratulated for exploring this kind of music, which the recording industry underserves with quality releases.


—Mel Martin