Impetuosities review

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- Impetuosities review

Delightful, Mostly Light-Hearted, Occasionally Wacky, Music, June 23, 2003

Reviewer: J Scott Morrison (see more about me) from Shawnee Mission, KS USA Joshua Rosenblum is a young composer-conductor-pianist who has worked mostly on- and off-Broadway, conducting shows like Miss Saigon, The Music Man, and Falsettos. This CD, which must have been a joy to put together - there is a palpable feeling of hey-kids-lets-put-on-a-show collegiality amongst the numerous musicians involved - contains a variety of chamber music. Rosenblum probably sets a record for using the youngest librettist for his song-cycle, A Whole Family Sitting in a Tree. He followed his then-three-year-old son, Julian, around with paper and pencil and copied down his sayings, setting his words as five songs. The only other art-songs that even come close, in my experience, are the delightful Deux lettres denfants by Jacques de Menasce, who set a couple of charming thank-you notes sent him by the children of fellow composer, Daniel Lesur. Rosenblums are worthy of such company. The song-cycle is winningly sung by young Julians mama and Joshuas wife, Joanne Lessner. Music, words and performance are utterly charming.
The album is titled Impetuosities, after the first piece recorded here, a jeu desprit written on commission for Philip Smith, the fabled principal trumpet of the New York Philharmonic and played by him and pianist Joseph Turrin. Impetuosities is an immediately attractive 7-minute romp that must be fun to play; it certainly is fun to listen to. Smith is quoted as saying, when he commissioned the piece, that he wasnt really an avant-garde guy, to which Rosenblum replied, Thats okay - neither am I. Indeed, all the music here is resolutely tonal, immediately gettable.
Variations for piano trio, here played by The Herrick Trio, consists of a flowing theme and seven variations that include a jig, a calypso-rag, a waltz, and an Orientale, among others. The Trios violinist, Marilyn Gibson, also plays Marilyns Solo, a brief unaccompanied bijou written for her. Four Songs of Thomas Hardy, the most consciously arty music here nonetheless contains a hilarious setting of In the Room of the Bride-Elect that ends with the cry, Good God - I must marry him I suppose! The four are sung by baritone Chris Thompson with impeccable diction and suave musicality.
Flash Variations for flute and piano flutters past in roulades and runs played with gusto and skill by Kathleen Nester, flute, with the composer at the piano.
Tall Tales for horn quartet is played by some Broadway pit-band buddies of the composer. They call themselves The Shubert Alley Horns and, if the booklet can be trusted, they sight-read the light-hearted pieces for this recording. One of the Horns, Dan Culpepper, also plays Three Episodes for horn and piano, again with the composer at the piano.
Finally, a couple of wind-band pieces, a march (coyly called Forward March) and a sort-of-tarantella called The Kings Pyjamas, are played by a group of other Broadway musicians calling themselves - in homage to John Philip Sousa, after one of his marches - Nobles of the Mystic Shrine. A good time is had by all, including this reviewer.
Indeed, for a light-hearted 72 minutes this CD would more than adequately fill the bill. Were told Mr Rosenblum is preparing a Broadway musical based on, of all things, physicist/novelist Alan Lightmans fictional Einsteins Dreams. Hoo boy!
Review by Scott Morrison