Rodriguez: Chamber Works

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San Antonio-born composer Robert Xavier Rodríguez teaches at the University of Texas at Dallas and directs a contemporary music ensemble there. Around 1970 he studied with the grande dame of French composition pedagogy, Nadia Boulanger; he must have been one of the last American composers trained by her. This disc pairs a couple of works from that era with two newer Rodríguez pieces. The more recent Meta 4 for string quartet, written in 1994, and Sor(tri)lège, for piano trio, from 2007, and quite compelling mixtures of abstract numerical procedures (they are, as the titles suggest, based on the numbers four and three, respectively) with tonal, Romantic modes of expression. Meta 4, which generates four movements of conventional shape and vastly different content out of a restricted set of materials, is nothing short of ingenious. Rodríguez writes movingly in his notes of the genesis of the two earlier trios (the Trio II, track 8, is actually the earlier of the two), and you can hear the genesis of his lush voice in these, although not of the compactness and focus of the later works. The performances are by three different groups, with one of them from a live concert situation, and a strength of Rodríguez's music is its ability to maintain its personality through these substantial changes of venue and forces. Recommended for those interested in neo-Romantic approaches, to which field Rodríguez offers a new twist.

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