This CD of music by Gabriela Lena Frank (b. 1972), titled Compadrazgo, is the type I like to call “out there.” It’s composed, one imagines, on the precipice of the composer’s mind and creative faculties, reaching both inward and outward towards models and inspirations that seem to gestate inside and come out in an almost spontaneous burst of creativity. ...There is no question that the music on Compadrazgo is strange and challenging to Western, non-South American ears, but if you are open to new experiences I think you’ll find it opens new doors to your mind.
Weber’s chamber music – just these three pieces if you don’t count the duos – clearly shows him on the cusp between Classical and Romantic. The Quartet for piano and strings, written in his early twenties between 1807 and 1809, begins with a Haydnesque gracefulness and politeness which is gradually invaded by more unruly harmonies and textures; the dramatic slow movement looks ahead to Schumann, while the closing fugue of the finale dresses 18th-century procedures in 19th-century colours. Then there’s the element of virtuosity which is a hallmark of the early Romantic era, in the showy piano part of the Quartet, which Weber wrote for himself, the concerto-like clarinet part in the Quintet with strings, designed for the pioneering Heinrich Baermann, and all three parts of the tuneful Trio for flute, cello and piano. The talented members of the pan-European Gaudier Ensemble are perfectly equipped to convey these different aspects of Weber’s musical personality, with the fleet-fingered pianist Susan Tomes leading the way in the Quartet and Trio, and Richard Hosford in the Clarinet Quintet recalling contemporary descriptions of Baermann’s own effortless brilliance.