Jon Ward Bauman

Jon Ward Bauman: String Chamber Music, Vol. 2

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Despite being a rather prolific composer, the works (and performances of them) of American composer Jon Ward Bauman are difficult to come by. This Capstone Records album is the second volume devoted to Bauman's chamber music output. The diverse program runs from the First Piano Quintet of 1963, which is a quasi-atonal work, through the Second Piano Quintet and "Metaphor" String Quintet of 2006, both of which are completely tonal and seem to be trying very hard to sound like Copland. There are a number of problems that go along with this disc. First, the liner notes provide almost no information about the composer, his influences, or styles, or details about the compositions heard on the album. With pieces with such obviously programmatic titles as "Metaphor," this lack of information leaves listeners scratching their heads trying to figure out what exactly is going on. Production value of the album in general is very low; even the photo on the front of the disc (does Yosemite's Bridal Veil Falls actually have something to do with the music?) is of low quality. The recorded sound is not much more focused than the photo. The various combinations of musicians themselves come across as entirely amateurish, with poor intonation, unappealing sound quality, sloppy articulation and rhythm, and limited musical intelligibility.

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