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Robert AVALON (b.1955)
Concerto for Piano and Orchestra Op.10 (1986)a
Concerto for Flute, Harp and Strings Op.31 (1998)b
Robert Avalon (piano)a; Megan Meisenbach (flute)b; Mary Golden (harp); Foundation for Modern Music Orchestra; Larry Rachleff
Recorded: Stude Concert Hall, Rice University, Houston, September 1999
CENTAUR CRC 2484 [65:13]

Robert Avalon may be better-known as a performing artist, as a pianist and the founder of the Avalon Ensemble; but he is also a composer of no mean achievement. Some of his chamber works are available on Centaur CRC 2430 which I have not heard so far. He is heard here "wearing both caps" in his ambitious and rather substantial Piano Concerto Op.10, completed in 1986 and first performed by him in March 1986. This large-scale work playing for nearly three quarters of an hour is in four movements, the first of which plays for twenty minutes! True to say that the first movement might have lived its own life as such, packed with contrasted ideas as it is. As to the music, it may be said that Robert Avalon is happy to compose in a clear 20th Century mainstream idiom, often calling Prokofiev and Shostakovich to mind, and none the worse for that, I hasten to say. The music is superbly crafted, with enough invention to hold one’s attention throughout this long piece, which – I think – says much of its qualities. Some, however, may find Avalon’s Piano Concerto too long, diffuse and/or verbose; but this is clearly the product of a communicative, honest mind at work.

The somewhat more recent Concerto for Flute, Harp and Strings Op.31 is on the whole more concise, which is why some will probably find it more successful than the Piano Concerto. It is in one single movement, in three sections roughly falling into the traditional pattern (fast-slow-fast). The music, however, is rather more stringent, the scoring for strings imparting it with a more intimate quality that I found most refreshing and appealing, but also with some more clarity in the textures. There are not that many flute-and-harp concertos, so that this beautiful piece is a most welcome addition to the repertoire, besides the celebrated, though rather tricky concerto by Mozart. Flute-and-harp duos would do well to investigate into this fine rarity.

In short, sincere, honest and superbly crafted music making, in excellent performances and good recording. Well worth hearing.

Hubert Culot


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