The music of Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Paul Moravec is somewhat difficult to pin down and categorize, a fact that no doubt delights Moravec. His work does not fit neatly into any one category: too controlled and virtuosic to be strictly neo-romantic, and too tonal and lyrical to be considered avant-garde. Comparisons to previous composers are equally nebulous, although there are hints of Messiaen. Nonetheless, the result is the same: entirely fresh, invigorating compositions that are at once accessible and enjoyable by a very broad spectrum of listeners. The two main works heard on this album are performed by members of the Bridgehampton Chamber Music Festival, who also commissioned the compositions. The Chamber Symphony is a tour de force of technique and rhythmic vitality for the seven-member ensemble. The performance here is tight, refined, and exuberant. Likewise, Cool Fire -- essentially a concerto for flute and piano quintet -- demonstrates Moravec's ability to transform technically demanding writing into a cohesive and engaging listening experience even without benefit of program notes. The various members of the Bridgehampton Chamber Music Festival, led by flutist Marya Martin, give listeners a fine example of a well-synthesized, communicative chamber music experience. Those not already familiar with Moravec's works would do well to start with this album.
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AllMusic Review by Mike D. Brownell
|Cool Fire, for ensemble|