Higdon: Piano Trio / Voices / Impressions
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Higdon: Piano Trio / Voices / Impressions

12 Dec 2006

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  Song Title Artist
Piano Trio: I. Pale Yellow Alisa Weilerstein
Piano Trio: II. Fiery Red Anne Akiko Meyers
Voices: I. Blitz - Nicholas Kitchen
Voices: II. Soft Enlacing - Nicholas Kitchen
Voices: III. Grace Nicholas Kitchen
Impressions: I. Bright Palette Cypress String Quartet
Impressions: II. Quiet Art Cypress String Quartet
Impressions: III. To The Point Cypress String Quartet
Impressions: IV. Noted Canvas Cypress String Quartet

Product details

  • Original Release Date: 12 Dec 2006
  • Label: Naxos
  • Copyright: (C) 2006 Naxos
  • Total Length: 57:35
  • Genres:
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 518,120 in MP3 Albums (See Top 100 in MP3 Albums)

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.7 out of 5 stars  7 reviews
21 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This is great music beautifully performed 1 Jan 2007
By Michael Tierra - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
Jennifer Higdon is emerging as one of America's greatest living composers. Her music has the distinction of being at once complex, sophisticated but readily accessible emotionally. Her compositional techniques are eclectic, tonally familiar and can reach to levels of high lyricism to fiery bartokian savagery. These string quartets are worthy extensions leading from Debussy to Bartok. The music is technically very demanding but this performance is fantastic, bright, fresh and spontaneous even upon frequent listening. With its unselfconscious style, there is something uniquely fresh and American sounding to Higdon's music. This album should be a treat for any lover of 21st century contemporary music.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars For those interested in "new" music that you can actually listen to, THIS IS IT! 3 May 2011
By Tom Brody - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD|Verified Purchase
This disc contain three compositions by Ms.Higdon, PIANO TRIO (2003), VOICES (1993), and IMPRESSIONS (2003). Some of the titles of the movements of these pieces evoke colors, and in this respect, resemble many of the saxophone compositions of Sam Rivers. The following review concerns only VOICES and one of the movements of IMPRESSIONS, namely, NOTED CANVAS.

VOICES contains three movements, entitled BLITZ, SOFT ENHANCING, and GRACE. BLITZ starts out with a tangled motif with glissandos, and sounding like one of Bartok's later string quartets. BLITZ also contains a motorized-puppet theme. Two minutes into the piece, one finds a stuttering theme, where the bow skitters or bounces over the strings. From 4 1/2 minutes to 5 minutes, there appears a swirling motif similar to that used by Bartok. From 5 minutes to the end of BLITZ, the music is quiet, and consists of a pizzicato motif accompanied by high-pitched squeaks.

One might suggest that, if Bela Bartok had lived longer, his compositional style might have evolved somewhat, to sound just like BLITZ. Or, alternatively, one might suggest that Bela Bartok has been reincarnated, and has appeared on earth again in the form of Ms. Jennifer Higdon, resulting in the composition called BLITZ. Or, to set forth yet another theory, Ms.Higdon is an independent genius who was inspired by Bartokian techniques while composing BLITZ.

SOFT ENHANCING starts out sounding like a glass harmonica, an instrument used, for example, in Mozart's ADAGIO AND RONDO in C minor K.617. SOFT ENHANCING contains, at intervals, episodes of pulsations of the type used often in minimalist compositions. SOFT ENHANCING concludes with the glass harmonica sound.

GRACE contains broad, low-throated strokes on the cello, accompanied by higher-noted violins. There is no particular tune here. It sounds as if the ensemble was experimenting, and picking out various unrelated chords and testing how nicely they might sound in succession. Then, the sound level and vigor of the music picks up at three minutes, and the listener is treated to an upwards-spiraling motif, and at 3 minutes, 30 seconds, comes that Bartokian swirling motif again. At 4 minutes, GRACE quiets down again.

NOTED CANVAS begins like a jolly Bartokian piece, but lacking in any folkish, ethnic overtones. NOTED CANVAS has a particular harsh-sounding descending motif. From 1 minute, 45 seconds to 2 minutes, 10 seconds, the violins play a buzzing sound, reminiscent of the breathy-buzz issuing from a Jew's harp. From 4 minutes, 30 seconds to 5 minutes, 10 seconds, the harsh chord returns, but it is not descending, but instead it romps happily, using an alternative motif.

To conclude, what I like to listen to, over and over and over, is BLITZ, SOFT ENHANCING, and NOTED CANVAS. I do not have the ability to describe these particular pieces in writing. Something about Ms. Higdon's compositions renders them elusive to descriptions using words. I did the best that I could. I also own a recording of Ms.Higdon's Violin Concerto, and I recommend that as well.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Art and Architectural Music for the Chamber 13 Oct 2010
By Dr. Debra Jan Bibel - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD|Verified Purchase
Modern classical composer Michael Torke established himself with his rhythmic colored music [Rust; Green; Ecstatic Orange; Bright Blue Music, etc.], brief works often put to dance. Jennifer Higdon tackled colors in this album, too, with her Pale Yellow and Fiery Red for piano trio. Music and art have a close bond, and the moods and association of hues are expressed in such compositions. Higdon's works are strongly melodic and architectural; as poetic scaffolding, they have rhythm and shape and texture. Likewise, the patterns of her Voices are readily apprehended: the frantic, wild Blitz; the quieter, glimmering, and pulsing Soft Enlacing; the contemplative and accepting Grace. Art and music once again is the theme in the third work, a quartet of four movements. Indeed, her Impressions refers directly to both Monet and his contemporaries as well as to the quartets of Ravel and Debussy. We can almost sense the light and shadow, the quick but confident brush strokes, or the shimmering, gentleness, and flowing of notes. The track To The Point is said to refer to the pointillism of Seurat (actually a post-Impressionist) as well as to the rapid, short metallophone notes of the Indonesian gamelan at the 1889 World Exhibition that so impressed Ravel. The accomplished musicians perform these compositions beautifully. This is an excellent, indeed, exciting album.
10 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb example of what makes Higdon an American treasure 18 Mar 2007
By Bill Townsend - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
I bought this CD primarily to hear the wonderfully talented violinist Anne Akiko Meyers, and her playing certainly is as great as ever. I was pleasantly suprised at how easy the rest of this CD is to listen to. Jennifer Higdon is truly one of our great treasures and her performance here is to be commended. Bravo!
1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Some Lovely Music 8 July 2009
By Karl W. Nehring - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
Having previously been quite impressed by some Telarc recordings of Jennifer Higdon's orchestral music, I looked forward to auditioning this new Naxos release of some of her chamber music. I was not disappointed, for there is some lovely music to be found here.

The first movement of the Piano Trio, which opens the CD, is titled "Pale Yellow." True to its title, it is soft and lovely, very beguiling. "Fiery Red," as you might expect, is anything but soft and lovely, but it is listenable and enjoyable. Similar contrasts in mood are to be found in the string quartet, Voices, which for me and for others may be the least satisfying piece on the CD. It is not bad, but seems to lack the charm of the Trio or the smooth craftsmanship of the other quartet, Impressions, which closes the CD with a look back toward the music of Debussy and Ravel. Voices was written in 1993, a decade earlier than the other two pieces--newer seems to mean better, at least in this instance. Voices is certainly worth a listen; Impressions invites and rewards repeated listening.

Overall, this is a most rewarding CD. I look forward to auditioning future recordings of Ms. Higdon's music. She seems to be a composer with a bright future in both large- and small-scale musical forms.
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