David Diamond Chamber Music
- CDR 90000 023
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David Diamond's symphonies have found their way into numerous record collections. Now, Cedille Records has produced the only CD devoted to his chamber music, including world premiere recordings of three works.
"I have heard many first-rate performances in my long life," Diamond told Cedille president James Ginsburg. "But never have I heard the first-rate become remarkable, even extraordinary in the kind of perfection The Chicago Chamber Musicians have achieved. Add to their virtuosity and sensitive musicianship the superlative engineering and you have a composer's dream come true. This CD has made my 80th year a very special one."
According to Ginsburg, who produced the recording, "Listeners will discover music that's as energetic, lucid, and meticulously crafted as the composer's symphonies."
The varied program unfolds like a well-planned concert, with Diamond's modernist-influenced works interspersed with his neo-Romantic ones, and earlier works alternating with later pieces.
The energetic, neoclassical, tonally centered Quintet in B minor for Flute, String Trio and Piano (1937), appearing on CD for the first time, is followed by the world-premiere recording of the Concert Piece for Horn and String Trio (1978). With elements of atonality and dissonance but still basically lyrical, the Concert Piece is a complete contrast in sonority, mood, and atmosphere.
In the vivacious, contrapuntal Partita for Oboe, Bassoon, and Piano (1935), which helped launch the young composer's career, Diamond retains a traditional form but fills it with contemporary themes, harmonies, and rhythms -- as did Stravinsky and Schoenberg.
The world premiere recording of the seamlessly flowing yet imaginatively varied Chaconne for Violin and Piano (1948) is followed by the premiere of Diamond's Woodwind Quintet (1958), a work reflecting the composer's exposure to Schoenberg's 12-tone serial technique, as refracted through Diamond's uniquely faceted musical personality. It starts with serial procedure but transcends formula, winding up with instruments exchanging fragments that coalesce into lively melodic exchanges as they move toward a witty conclusion.
"Mr. Diamond provided us with many insights concerning the Wind Quintet's composition, including his consultations with Schoenberg regarding serial technique as it relates in some ways to this amazing work," says CCM oboist Michael Henoch.
CCM consulted with Diamond throughout the project. "He critiqued many of our taped concert performances of these works before we actually recorded them for Cedille," Henoch says. "His advice was invaluable to us." Concert audiences find the Diamond works engaging and enjoyable, Henoch observes. "The typical reaction is, 'Why haven't we heard this before?' CCM has long prided itself on the diversity of its programming. "That each of these compositions has a different instrumentation plays to the strengths of the ensemble's considerable resources," Henoch adds.
Founded in 1986, CCM set out to become an internationally recognized Chicago institution dedicated to the study and performance of chamber music. Ten years later, CCM continues to win critical and popular accolades. In the words of the Chicago Tribune's John von Rhein, "Even in a city well supplied with superior chamber ensembles, the Chicago Chamber Musicians are something special. The group . . . combines a dedication to the highest ideals of chamber music performance with a real flair for putting together zestful compelling programs. They make us glad to be sharing their music with them."