Miranda Cuckson

Music By Ralph Shapey

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The violin music of composer Ralph Shapey is described by violinist Miranda Cuckson in her liner notes of this album as "engaging and challenging for performers and listeners." Truer words were never spoken. Although Shapey was stimulated by the great masters of the Baroque, Classical, and Romantic eras, their voices are primarily heard structurally rather than harmonically or melodically. Shapey's use of polyrhythm, free meter, and fragmentary melodies are a language all his own. These differences definitely pose challenges to the average listener. But as Cuckson stated, Shapey's music is also engaging, which indeed it is. Despite its extreme complexities, all of the works on this album are also highly emotive, evocative, and passionately interesting. A great deal of this success is due to the performance of Cuckson. Despite the incredible difficulty of these compositions, it never sounds as if she so much as breaks a sweat. The most awkward intervals and complex rhythms are tossed off with apparent ease. Intonation is spotless, without which this music would be intolerable. Kudos to Miranda Cuckson for delivering the otherwise difficult-to-digest works of a twentieth century composer and leaving listeners wanting a second helping.

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