Michael Fiday: Same Rivers Different

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Michael Fiday (born in 1961), a student of Richard Toensing, George Crumb, and Louis Andriessen, teaches at the College-Conservatory of Music at the University of Cincinnati. The assorted pieces of chamber music collected here show him to be a composer with a fertile imagination, a probing inventiveness, an ear for telling instrumental color, and gentle wit. Nine Haiku, inspired by the poetry of seventeenth century Japanese writer Matsuo Basho, is scored for flute and piano, both of which sometimes use extended techniques. It's a satisfying set, some of the movements delicate and ephemeral, some enigmatic, some ingeniously clever. The three works using percussion are also especially effective. Hands On!, for percussion quartet, which uses primarily unpitched percussion, is a subtle and intriguing rhythmic study. Same Rivers Different, for a single player, features the vibraphone, but it undergoes beautifully calibrated timbral transformations as other instruments are added. Automotive Passacaglia, for piano and two percussionists, is a loopy perpetuum mobile that imaginatively creates the illusion of speedy travel. The two pieces that use the voice, either speaking or singing, are less persuasive, but Fiday's purely instrumental works are a delight, and the performers put them across with sensitivity and high spirits. The pieces were recorded in a variety of circumstances and venues, so the sound quality is variable, but never less than adequate.

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