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Robert Baksa


Cover Photo: Joe Abaldo

Available at your favorite digital etailers
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Catalog Number: CPS-8608
Audio Format: Stereo, DDD
Playing Time: 55:54
Release Date: 1991

Track Listing & Audio Samples
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    Flute Sonata
  1. Allegro; Cadenza I (6:49)
  2. Adagio; Cadenza (4:55)
  3. Allegro (4:10)
    Bradley Garner, flute
    AeRee Kim, piano
     
    Woodwind Quintet No. 1
4. Quite fast (5:15)
  5. Tranquil, not too slow (5:51)
  6. Not too fast, with humor (5:28)
    Bradley Garner, flute
    David Kossoff, oboe
    Larry Tietze, clarinet
    James Jeter, bassoon
    Milton Phibbs, horn
     
    Quartet for Piano and Winds
  7. Moderato; Allegro (10:04)
  8. Moderato (6:06)
  9. Allegro (6:47)
    David Kossoff, oboe
    Larry Tietze, clarinet
    James Jeter, bassoon
    AeRee Kim, piano

 

Also Available on Capstone
Robert Baksa: CPS-8610

 

Releated Links
Robert Baksa

 

Reviews

American Record Guide - November/December, 1991 - Volume 54, Number 6 - by Lehman

"Like Schoenberg, Ive always believed theres a lot of good music yet to be written in C Major, so I was eager to hear Robert Baksas avowedly tonal music on this Capstone CD, which offers three of this American composers works from the 1970s. Though the performances and recording (once on MHS) are fine, Im somewhat ambivalent about what I hear. Let me try to describe the music objectively.

Baksas strengths are transparent textures, ingratiating melodies, and a certain artistic sincerity theres nothing gimmicky or self-conscious about his stuff. His weaknesses: relentlessly cheerful, have-a-nice-day major harmony so restricted and conventional it would soon drive Bach or Mozart up the wall; predictably four-square rhythms and phrases; and repetitive, overextended forms almost invariably too long by a third or so. These weaknesses seem exacerbated in the Flute Sonata, while the first two movements of both the Wind Quintet and the Piano Quartet display his melodic gifts to better advantage. Perhaps its not surprising that Baksas inspiration is uneven, since he is a very prolific composer though this unevenness may be disguised by his stylistic consistency. But all his music is untroubled, shallow, pale, mildly charming and charmingly mild; it is clearly an escape from the passion and doubt of both romanticism and her stepchild Modernism. The inescapable question: why listen to Baksas classical era recreations when the real item is so easily available?

Im not sure about the answer. Baksas music does have some lovely moments, and almost convinces me to follow him into never-never land."

 

 

Phoenix Gazette - November 2, 1991 - by Richard Cantor *

"Reading about Robert Baksa is rather disturbing.

Heres a composer with more than 500 compositions to his name, a cum laude graduate of the University of Arizona, and hes actually unknown to the recording microphones, and to us.

Born in New York in 1938 and raised in Tucson, Baksa has written all manner of music, including scores and two operas. Several of his printed scores have sold more than 100,000 copies. Yet the compact disc cupboard is almost empty.

Are the recording companies telling us something? Perhaps.

Listening to Baksa for the first time certainly is a ride through a musical time warp. Here is music so transparent, so melodious, so structurally uncomplicated its almost shocking to think the works recorded are mostly from the 70s, when Boulez, Xenakis, Stockhausen and Penderecki captured our hearts.

Although he started out as one of the crowd, Baksa decided early that the stylistic innovations of the 20th century were totally at odds with his own artistic ideals, Frederick Roffman tells us in his informative program notes.

So Baksa did it his way: Innocent melodies, surprisingly memorable. The line classically clear, a hyperactive counterpoint thats fresh but not predictable. An inventor, not an innovator.

If there is a down side to all this, it is his unflinching pleasantness. No profundities here. Everything is in its place, and sometimes brilliantly stated. And with great humor, too. But its over-dough-nuts jolly, not over-cocktails witty.

Generalizations are dangerous. But judging from Baksas Flute Sonata (1976), Woodwind Quintet No. 1 (1974/88) and Quartet for Piano and Winds (1972) on this ably recorded and superbly performed Capstone CD, Baksa will blaze no new paths in modern music. Hell give us no break-throughs.

But simply by doing things his way, he puts our musical past in fresh perspective. And allows us to again appreciate its glories."

 

 

Arizona Daily Star - July 26, 1991 - by James Reel *

"Judging from record catalogs, interest is booming in secondary composers of the Romantic era. Thats good new for contemporary composer Robert Baksa, because anyone who enjoys music by the likes of Spohr and Reinecke should find much of interest is Baksas works.

This is not a put-down. The fact is that Baksa draws his inspiration from Classical and early Romantic models. His music is stubbornly tonal, his forms textbook clear. And it has been that way for more than 30 years. Only now is tonality in again, so in this respect Baksa is not reactionary but ahead of his times.

Baksa has been a former Tucsonan so long its almost not worth mentioning that he grew up here, graduated from the University of Arizona school of music in 1959 and was the program director of then-classical radio station KFMM.

In 1962 he moved to New York City, where hed been born in 1936. He has composed prolifically for his own pleasure and for many commissions, but he has never managed to rub shoulders with the people responsible for the big-money commissions that keep composers like Joseph Schwantner and Milton Babbitt in the green.

So Baksa has made his steady income as a music copyist, transforming other composers messy manuscripts into clean, elegant full scores and parts. Ironically, he often finds himself copying the music of avant-garde composers whose award-winning work he detests.

But there is no anger in the Baksa chamber music collected on a new Capstone CD. The pieces are as clean and elegant as Baksas copy work, courageously and attractively retrograde.

In the 1976 flute sonata, theres an . . . reminiscent of French neoclassicism, but without the intentional wrong notes of Poulenc. The flute is the star, but in the outer movements the piano is not just accompanimental it is essential to the musics melodic as well as harmonic development.

The first wind quintet, written in 1974 and tinkered with until 1988, is a 16-minute work that is brightly confident in its dedication to tonality, in keeping with Baksas Classical Interests, the last movement is full of gentle, Haydenesque humor.

The 1972 quartet for piano and winds, once past an introduction of Romantic lyricism, is pervaded by a Mozartean spirit, particularly in the keyboard writing.

The sympathetic performances are by East Coast pros, including the principal wind players of the Atlantic Sinfonietta. Some tape edits that are obvious over headphones stride right by the loudspeakers.

These days people like Baksa can write tonal, traditional music with little fear of ridicule from a weakened avant-garde establishment. And now that people are beginning to appreciate the graceful but not earth-shaking music of Spohr, Reinecke and all those other 19th-century composers, Baksas similar works should be taken just as seriously.

How nice that his time has finally come, without his having to be dead a century."

 

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"Flute Sonata, Robert Baksa. This is a beautiful, lush, big romantic work for flutists. It is as lovely and intertwined as Schumann. A three movement work with two big cadenzas beginning both the 2nd and 3rd movements, this is a skillfully crafted piece for both flute and piano, and allows the flutist plenty of opportunity for lyrical, expressive playing."

 

Woodwind Reviews ? - by Dr. Ronald L. Caravan

"Flute Sonata, Robert Baksa. This newly available work appears to be a substantial addition to the flute repertoire. Lasting 16 minutes, its three movements are connected by cadenzas for the flute. The compositional style is quite conservative, exhibiting a rather romantic sound, even a bit Wagnerian in the midle slow movement. The edition is beautifully engraved and the piece is well within reach of the moderately advanced high school student."

 

Turok’s Choice - Summer, 1991 - Issue No. 14 - by Paul Turok

"Attractive, enjoyable, deceptively simple chamber works by Robert Baksa (Flute Sonata, Woodwind Quintet, Quartet for Piano and Winds) are firmly played and fairly well recorded (CPS-8608)."