01-05 Roadshow for Otto 06-10 Roadshow for Thora 11-14 4 Nocturnes from 'The Oblivion Ha-Ha' 15-26 String Quartet No. 2 'Six Faces' 27-35 The Pismirist's Congeries
01-05 Alex Sopp flute, Romie deGuise-Langlois clarinet, Sumire Kudo cello, Steven Beck piano 06-10 SOLI Chamber Ensemble 11-14 Lucy Shelton soprano, Da Capo Chamber Players 15-26 Left Coast Chamber Ensemble 27-35 Alex Sopp flute, Sharon Roffman violin, Wendy Law cello, Steven Beck piano
Carl Schimmel’s music possesses a mathematical structural sensibility augmented with a playful sense of humor. His wonderful ability to communicate semantic meaning from moment to moment gives his scores a engaging narrative, and his penchant for miniatures fits perfectly with his colourful depiction of different characters. He is influenced deeply by literature and extra- musical phenomenon.
Both of Schimmel’s "Roadshow" pieces are written for his children, one for his son Otto and the other for his daughter Thora. Schimmel was inspired by the hit PBS show "Antiques Roadshow," and each miniature movement is a musical imagining of how his children might play with toys he saw featured on the show. The first track of the recording, "Silver Atom Ray Gun" from Roadshow for Otto, with its bravura opening and maudlin asides, encapsulates Schimmel’s occasionally cartoonish presentation. The opening movement Four Nocturnes from "The Oblivion Ha-Ha" sets poetry by James Tate, an American poet whose surrealist imagery veered toward the absurd later in his career. Schimmel’s style of setting the text here verges closer to recitative than lieder, and an attentive listener might hear references to Debussy in the final movement. The six movements of his String Quartet #2 are inspired by cubist paintings that Schimmel then incorporates as characters in the piece (the paintings are by Braque, Picasso, Gleizes, Gris, Metzinger, and Leger). Like a cubist painting, the piece’s six portrait movements form six sides of the same complex entity, perhaps even facets of a single personality. The final work on the recording, The Pismirist’s Congeries, returns to something of the light character of the "Roadshow" pair. A "pismirist" is someone who collects small, insignificant things, and each movement of this work is named after a different keepsake, such as "orrery" (a clockwork model of the solar system) or "zufalo" (a small flute used to train songbirds). This collection, Schimmel’s debut full length release, shows the composer at his best, writing intricate, expressive music that balances wit and pathos.
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