“Voices of Dissent” = JEAN-LOUIS PETIT: L’un Multiple; Le Plaisir d’un Enchantement; DAVID GORDON: Circumflexus; FERNANDE DECRUCK: Danses Autour du Monde; ELAINIE LILLOIS: Voices of Dissent; MARILYN SHRUDE: Trope; MIKEL KUEHN: Resonances; BURTON BEERMAN: Beginnings; ASTOR PIAZZOLLA: Otoño Porteño; PIET SWERTS: Kotekan– Joren Cain, saxophones/Sarah Cain, clarinet/Maila Gutierrez Springfield, piano – MSR Classics MS 1408, 72:28 [ Distr. by Albany] ****:
Saxophonist Joren Cain specializes in rediscovering lost works for the saxophone, especially from the early days of the French school, typified by the great Marcel Mule. Cain also is an active performer of new works for saxophone that use extended techniques and other contemporary approaches. Most importantly, Cain is a very fine performer, having completed a DMA from the University of North Texas and is gifted with a terrific tone and ample technique. From that standpoint, there is much to admire in this collection of the new and unusual in saxophone repertoire.
In fact, the listener may find that the music falls into two very general categories (as I did.) Some of these works fall more or less squarely into the tonal, somewhat “exotic” – but fairly easy to listen to – group. For example, Decruck’s Danses Autour du Monde (Dances Around the World) is a very French-sounding and delightful work. Similarly, the Piazzolla work, Otoño Porteño, is a transcription of one of his tangos for violin, cello and piano and is, predictably, quite fun to listen to. Cain and pianist Maila Gutierrez Springfield are joined by Sarah Cain, clarinetist and this is a very nice, attractive work. Piet Swerts’ Kotekan – while not having much in common with the Decruck or Piazzolla works at all – is also an exciting and attention garnering work to follow.
The other works in this collection are all impressive but may tax the listener just a bit more. The two works by Jean-Louis Petit are dense and polytonal but exciting to listen to. Le Plaisir d’un Enchantement, a three movement solo work written for Joren Cain, is based on small motives and involves quite a lot of technical flourish. L’un Multiple , based on some Greek philosophy, is quite short but has a very mysterious feel to it that I found attractive.
Some of the other works are, again, very impressive for their difficulty and complexity but may place demands on listeners who are not that acquainted with how difficult to play well a saxophone can be. David Gordon’s Circumflexus and Mikel Kuehn’s Resonances are very interesting but dense works. The Kuehn work, in fact, is one of the four works that provides this album with its title.
“Voices of Dissent” was a festival of new music (with some para-political readings and such) held at Bowling Green University in 2007. In addition to the Kuehn Resonances, the present Wedge by Elainie Lillios, Trope by Marilyn Shrude and Beginnings by Burton Beerman were featured. Booklet notes declare that Beginnings is the “most lyrical” of the Voices of Dissent works. I don’t think I disagree, although I did not find Lillios’ Wedge very difficult to absorb; in fact I rather enjoyed it. Marilyn Shrude’s Trope has enjoyed a life as a festival or competition piece around the country and is certainly an atmospheric work demanding great control.
I liked this album mainly for the performances. Joren Cain is truly a gifted and impressive saxophonist with a clear expertise for contemporary music. Pianist Maila Gutierrez Springfield and clarinetist Sarah Cain are also quite capable in their roles. As for the whole Voices of Dissent concept, it may have been interesting to watch and hear how this event (and its political undertones) transpired but the music all stands on its own merits. I did enjoy some pieces more than others; in particular the Beerman and Decruck works. I think that classical saxophonists everywhere should definitely check this disc out for both Cain’s playing as well as to discover some new, unusual work. Listeners not familiar with contemporary wind music should still find some interest as well.
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