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Cantatas for Soprano
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Dorothy HINDMAN (b. 1966) Tightly Wound: Music for Strings
Setting Century (1999/2016) [14:53]
Monumenti (2005) [8:51]
Heroic Measures (2014) [12:15]
Time Management (2003) [11:20]
centro (2005) [8:55]
Jerusalem Windows (2002) [11:01]
Taut (2003) [6:24]
Road to Damascus (2010) [8:43]
Needlepoint (2004) [9:26]
drowningXnumbers (1994) [14:29]
three small gestures (2006) [9:03]
Fantasia for Karen Alone (2010) [10:24]
Sound|Water (2011) [10:10]
Recording details not provided INNOVA 965 [67:17 + 68:41]
This compilation marks the 50th birthday of Dorothy Hindman. The double CD gives a representative sample of her work over the last twenty years or so. I shall not be telling tales out of school if I say that it will not be to everyone’s taste, but it nevertheless provides insight into the world of a successful composer working in a modern idiom.
In some ways, the clue to Hindman’s sound world is “Taut” on the second CD. Throughout the pieces there is a sense of tension but also forward direction: not for her the suspended and sometimes apparently aimless shimmerings of some recent composers. The great temptation, I suppose, is to become besotted by particular sound effects to the extent of losing sight of other musical elements, such as structure and momentum—the ability to think in whole sentences and paragraphs and not just in striking phrases. Here, pieces have a sense of direction and worthwhile things to say.
Hindman herself considers her work strongly autobiographical. In her notes, she says: “My music reflects events in my life … Metric schemes are derived from meaningful patterns such as telephone numbers … My music is rooted in individual perception … informed by my phenomenological investigations of how music functions”. The term phenomenological is significant. For Husserl, to understand a phenomenon, one must examine both the phenomenon to be studied and our own perception of it, and it is clear that Hindman sees understanding of her work in similar terms. That her work is principally small-scale, as here, encourages the kind of contemplation she expects. As a reviewer, I normally begin by playing CDs straight through before concentrating on bits. That would not be the appropriate way to approach these pieces—their beauties (and there are real beauties) require individual focus.
Small scale does not rule out drama as in the experimental drowningXnumbers (the odd use of capital letters here and elsewhere, a touch of e.e. cummings, is deliberate). This piece for amplified cello has interesting effects as it becomes faster in tempo, but with longer note-values, in each of its three sections. Initial aggression gives way to stillness; it is a powerful, fascinating work.
It is invidious to pick out individual works, but I particularly enjoyed Needlepoint for solo guitar, not only because of its accessibility, but for its subtle changes of mood. three small gestures, for guitarist and solo violin, is based on everyday gestures such as patting backs, shaking hands or eye contact. The accompanying musical gestures are subtle but quite gripping.
Recording quality is excellent though there are no details of venue or dates. Performances are clear and, as far as I can tell with no comparisons, committed. Also, kudos to Innova for the slim but robust packaging, much better than a breakable jewel case.
Michael Wilkinson Performers
Ensemble Ibis/Shawn Couch
Mari-Liis Pakk (violin), Jason Calloway (cello)
Robert Black (double bass)
Karen Bentley Pollick (violin), Ivan Sokoloff (piano)
Corona Guitar Kvartet
Amernet String Quartet
Paul Bowman (guitar)
Craig Hultgren (amplified cello, cello)
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