Cadman (1881-1946) was a middlebrow composer who composed his chamber music while living on revenues from songs such as "At Dawning" (op. 29/1, 1906) and "From the Land of Sky-blue Waters" (op. 45/1, 1909). The three-movement Piano Trio, from this early period, is a resolutely optimistic work with then-novel ragtime syncopation in its last movement. As with Cadman's songs, the mood quickly becomes conventionally sentimental when the music is not lively. The Rawlins Trio, on Albany, brings a bit more depth to Cadman's lyrical side, especially in slow movement. On the other hand, much of opus 56 _is_ lively, and here Posnak, Zazofsky, and Harbough win the day with their verve and confidence. Naxos's soundstage makes the music more vivid, too.
Many of the sentimental elements in Cadman's style had been expunged by 1930, the date of the pleasant Violin Sonata -- though (excepting occasional "color" chords) its stylistic and harmonic idiom is still what Cadman would have heard in the 1890s. The vigorous, slightly Gallic last movement brings out an attractive side of Cadman -- and of the performers, who in the earlier movements play cleanly but without betraying any deep conviction.
The stand-out work here is the three-movement Piano Quintet of 1937. By that year Cadman had lost most of his former audience and revenue streams. This unsettling state of affairs brought out the best in him, compositionally. Thanks to Naxos and the performers for resurrecting this outstanding unpublished work. If Cadman leans on Bloch rather obviously in certain passages, he also finds fresh music that is quite his own, while also holding himself throughout to a consistently high compositional standard. The Quintet is a winning work, worth well more than Naxos's modest price. Recommended.