IAIN QUINN Vari­a­tions on Amer­ica

Pasatiempo - - Cd Reviews -

(Chan­dos) Here is an­other wel­come solo disc from Iain Quinn, mu­sic di­rec­tor at Al­bu­querque’s Cathe­dral Church of St. John. The en­gag­ing al­lAmer­i­can reper­toire, which in­cludes sev­eral record­ing pre­mieres, comes from 2008 ses­sions on Eng­land’s mag­nif­i­cent Coven­try Cathe­dral or­gan. Aaron Co­p­land’s Pre­am­ble (For a Solemn Oc­ca­sion) is dig­ni­fied without be­ing pedan­tic, stern without be­ing sor­row­ful. Charles Ives’ fa­mous Vari­a­tions on “Amer­ica” are mem­o­rable for Quinn’s crisp tech­nique and in­sight­ful reg­is­tra­tions and for how he con­veys the spe­cial char­ac­ter of each move­ment while never for­get­ting they are links in a creative chain. Along the way, he builds up enough artis­tic ex­cite­ment for a Fourth of July pa­rade. Some sel­dom-heard and very nice pieces by Henry Cow­ell and William Grant Still re­ceive poised, at­trac­tive in­ter­pre­ta­tions, while Quinn erects an amethyst-tinged sonic cathe­dral in Sa­muel Bar­ber’s in­tel­li­gently con­ceived Pre­lude and Fugue. Bar­ber’s well-known vari­a­tions on the tune “Won­drous Love” are played with re­pose and ten­der­ness. To close the disc, Quinn hap­pily tears through Stephen Paulus’ rhyth­mic, high-oc­tane, hym­n­tune-in­spired Trip­tych in a blaze of son et lu­mière glory, as if he were strid­ing through a field of stars erupt­ing in fire­works. Through­out, Chan­dos’ en­gi­neers have done an ad­mirable job in keep­ing the or­gan’s many sounds— and the in­tri­ca­cies of Quinn’s heart­felt play­ing — clean and warm in the build­ing’s tow­er­ing acous­tic.— Craig Smith

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