The second CD entirely devoted to the music of Canadian composer Allison Cameron picks up where the 1995 Raw Sangudo had left off. Ornaments presents four works written between 1996 and 1999, all recorded in August 2000. The title brings to mind ideas of luxurious details, endless ramifications, and an accumulation of superficial additions. This music is all the contrary. The title track, a duet for violin (Marc Sabat) and piano (Stephen Clarke), is made of delicate, stripped-down nodes of music. Short strings of pizzicato notes hang in mid-air, the ornaments of an unheard melody. While an "ornament" usually calls for something with a greater purpose (what is ornamented), in this case the superfluous stands alone. A similar sparseness is found in the three movements of "Retablo," for clarinet, violin, cello, piano, and toy piano/bells (the composer performs the latter pair). A slow piece, very stripped-down once again, it is a beautiful aggregation of singled-out events, a slow-motion funeral march in which every detail becomes crystal-clear. One thinks of George López or even Klaus Lang, although Cameron does not focus on textures. The two other works are less striking. A bass clarinet solo (performed by Ronda Rindone), "Somatic Refrain" explores the whole range of the instrument, from the raspy grunts at the beginning to ethereal high notes, but it runs long. "Three Shapes of the Sword" is a triptych for solo prepared piano, here a modern reproduction of a Stein forte piano. Clarke's performance is quite convincing and Cameron's spacious writing allows a lot of room for the instrument's sonorities (both natural and altered) to shine. Those interested in Morton Feldman's use of space will have no problem relating to this music.
Share this page
AllMusic Review by François Couture