Various Artists

Harold Meltzer: Songs and Structures

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The title Songs and Structures on this album of works by composer Harold Meltzer refers to the fact that the program contains a pair of songs and a pair of instrumental works. However, it also might be taken to indicate Meltzer's style, which fuses appealing melodies with an economy of musical materials. Perhaps the songs are the strongest here: Meltzer selects high-quality texts and creates a musical universe to match in a process that seems almost Schubertian. He benefits from strong, text-involved and text-intelligible performances by tenor Paul Appleby in, for example, the emotionally complex "Autumn Begins and Martins Ferry, Ohio," to a text by James Wright, part of a cycle about that state. The string quartet Aqua evokes the Chicago skyscraper the Aqua Tower. In Kreisleriana, Meltzer seeks an entirely new kind of retrospective look at the violin music of early 20th century virtuoso Fritz Kreisler, retaining the sentimental flourishes but underpinning them with a distinctly modern background. This album snared a Grammy nomination for Best Compendium in 2019, and it's easy to see why: Meltzer's work is thoroughly contemporary but immediately appealing to anyone.

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