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Music da camera by Allen Brings

Cover Design: Catherine Eckersley & Allen Brings

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Catalog Number: CPS-8644
Audio Format: Stereo, DDD
Playing Time: 60:50
Release Date: 1997

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Allen Brings


Track Listing & Audio Samples
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  1. Fantaisie (7:52)
    Lisa Hansen, flute
    Susan Jolles, harp
  2. Fantasy Pieces (9:21)
    Morey Ritt and Donald Pirone, piano
  3. Chimeric Fantasy (9:37)
    Cynthia Sikes, alto saxophone
    Leo Grinhauz, cello
    Allen Brings, piano
    Sonata da Chiesa
  4. First movement (3:46)
  5. Second movement (2:47)
  6. Third movement (2:37)
  7. Fourth movement (2:21)
    Alexander Kouguell, cello
  8. First movement (7:23)
  9. Second movement (6:13)
Third movement (2:51)
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  11. Fourth movement (6:17)
    Members of The Meridian String Quartet
    Sebu Sirinian, violin
    Liuh-Wen Ting, viola
    Wolfram Koessel, cello


Also Available on Capstone:




ComposerUSA - Winter 1997-98 - by Marshall Bialosky

"Still staying on the campus of Queens College in New York, another CD comes along, Capstone CPS--8641, this time with all music by Allen Brings, a veteran faculty member, a true supporter of many composer organizations like SC and NACUSA, a publisher and clearly an indefatigable letter writer to various publications in music which, on occasion produce some silly or musically illiterate article to which Brings brings in response a solid knowledge of music history and an unerring instinct for opposing pure cant or nationalistic puffery.

His CD contains a Fantaisie for flute and harp, a Fantasy Piece for piano, four-hands, a Chimeric Fantasy for alto saxophone, cello and piano; a Sonata da Chiesa for cello alone, and a Trio for violin, viola and cello. Again, I believe some vocal music would have added important variety to this program. The composer, here, too, has provided very literate historical commentary on the forms used and his particular application of them. For my part I found the pieces that used mixed families of instruments the most effective. The solo cello work and the string trio, in my opinion, suffer from a lack of timbral variety. There sounds to my ears too much legato playing, and I found myself longing for more "effects," the modern equivalent of Baroque ornamentation. Of course those must be "composed in" and not simply added to an already written section. This objection does not apply to the four-hand piano piece. The composer, along with his wife, Genevieve Chinn, have had many years of concert playing together, and four-hand piano music comes naturally and effectively to him. The music herein does demonstrate Brings' strong grasp of music history and his own personally well-developed compositional technique. I would think students at Queens College were particularly fortunate to have studied with two teachers as strong and well-rounded as Leo Kraft and Allen Brings."


American Record Guide - July/August, 1998 -by Stephen D. Hicken

"Allen Brings's chamber music is an expression of late 20th Century romanticism-sincere, honest, and tough-minded. His music relies on traditional materials in traditional forms, but there is something about it-a knowingness perhaps-that makes the overall effect more than backward-looking. It may be the particular kind of consciousness of the past that made our own age, when composers can combine elements of several different eras. Does it work as art? Or nostalgia? I don't know yet, but honorable efforts like his (and his fine, understanding interpreters) make me believe the answer may yet be a positive one."


Fanfare - March/April 1998 - by Robert Kirzinger

"Allen Brings (b. 1934) studied with Otto Luening, Gardner Read, and Roger Sessions. He teaches at Queens College. This collection of mostly recent chamber works contains exclusive releases, I believe. though Brings's discography is not insignificant. By pedigree one might draw conclusions about the American-ness of Brings's music, which indeed shows through. A penchant for lilting triple meter with additive rhythms (that is, for example, mostly three-beat measures, but occasionally a two-beat measure to break the symmetry) gives most of these pieces a consistent rhythmic language. The harmonic palette is chromatic but consonant. though not pitch-centered. A French harmonic coloring, like that of Boulez or Messiaen although perhaps not as fornal. establishes some of Brings's other influences.

Sonata da chiesa
for solo cello (l980), in four movements, takes its name from the similar Baroque form (the name means "church sonata"). Its movements alternate slow-fast-slow-fast. For the most part single lines are employed. The piece relies on long, lyrical, expressive melody that must be understood and perfonned likc poetry, as it is here by the cellist Kouguell.

The Trio (1995) also casts an eye to the past, more specifically in this case I think. I hear Schubert and Mendelssohn in its textures if not its pitches, though the liner notes don't clarify, referring to its roots as being the "history of Western music. Again the impetus leans to the strongly lyrical. The structures fall into more clearly delineated relief than in the more organic "fantasies" and the cello piece. The first movement sounds roughly sonata-form, for example, the third a real scherzo, though I think it could have been more effective if played somewhat more aggressively. Thc mood throughout remains melancholy, searching, and as such may not have allowed the perforiners to attempt a broader response.

Fantasy Piece
(1986), for piano four-hands, reminds me of the solo-piano music of Xenakis, with its superimposed ascending and descending broken-scalar passages. Okay, the piece otherwise doesnt sound at all like Xenakis. In this work one hears the additive rhythms among the triple
Meters, the syncopated scherzo. Lyricism takes second chair to the complex homophonic layering of chromatic runs in the fast passages, which displace and are displaced by slow, more contrapuntal sections. Dynamic contrast in this perfomance lacks somewhat, though the pianists play with terrific four-hand coordination.

Chimeric Fantasy
(1993), for alto sax, cello, and piano, lives again in the lyric world. The sax and cello spin a counterpoint as an introduction before the piano enters with dramatic chords. Drama, as such, doesn't crop up much after that; we return to the melancholy lyrical world with some passages of harmonic travel. The sax refuses to be other than a soloist in the work, as though the piece were written for solo sax with cello and piano accompaniment. I don't know whether this was intentional.

I've saved the 1994 Fantasie for flute and harp for last because I can't abide it, although that's not its fault. This duo will forever remain for me the epitome of insipid. This piece strikes me as the most structurally concise, the development of the opening material proceeding in a very hearable way. We hear Brings at his most French here, I suspect, in this ethereal-timbred combination.

Brings by this group of works shows himself a very good composer with a distinct style and personality. While this often means the composer always sounds the same, lack of contrast wasn't much of an issue on this program. I would strongly advise avoiding adjacent hearings of Fantasie and Chimeric Fantasy though. Performances are solid and well recorded, occasionally somewhat laid back for my taste, as noted. The front design of the booklet shot fear through me before listening, looking as it does like a Helen Stainer Rice hook. Don't judge this by its cover, though, as it offers much more."