Classical CD Reviews
STRAVINSKY: Suite from The Soldier’s Tale; BENSHOOF: A Whimsical Solution; CORAY: Sanctuary; BARTOK: Contrasts – Alaska Pro Musica (clarinet/violin/piano) – MSR Classics
Published on April 29, 2008
This CD might catch the eye of collectors due to its coming from a somewhat unlikely source. The Pro Musica trio was founded in 1994 and has even toured to South America. They are thoroughly professional and the four selections make a fine chamber music program. Any version of Stravinsky’s ascerbic Soldier’s Tale music gets my attention. Though this one reduces the instrumentalists drastically, the trio still imparts plenty of verve and often jazzy twists to the music. It made me want to get out the wonderful animated film to the score and view it again.
The two centerpiece works by living composers are both world premiere recordings. Ken Benshoof has written works for the Kronos Quartet and was asked by the Alaska Pro Musica to create one for clarinet, violin and piano. He had just completed some heavy string quartets and was delighted to get into something more whimsical, which he did in his four-movement piece marked: Simple; Snappy; Quirky & Ramblin.’ Much is in the 20th century French chamber style and there are jazzy elements. Benshoof calls it “a happy and tonal piece.” Sanctuary was commissioned by friends of composer Craig Coray and is a musical homage to wild places in nature. The only other recording I have of Bartok’s famous Contrasts is the Bartok and Szigeti original, and it was a pleasure to really get into the also quirky music, this time in excellent stereo, without the distractions of the scratchy 78s of the original recording.
– John Sunier