Sundance Trio

The Sundance Trio

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'The combination of oboe, bassoon, and piano is not a common one, but the Sundance Trio is making a go of it. Its debut disc on Centaur pulls together no less than five works for such ensemble, and overall it is a bright, melodious, and attractive program. The key work here is the opener, the Trio (1972) by Madeleine Dring, who was a stage actress in addition to being a composer and is one of the best-kept secrets of twentieth century English music. Dring's style is bright, cosmopolitan, slightly jazzy, and gently neo-classical with a renaissance bent, and the piano part here was originally scored for harpsichord. Inspiration drawn from antique models is something of a subtext throughout this program; Paul Angerer's Chanson Gaillarde (1963) is a tuneful, colorful, and sensitive piece that works Baroque concepts into an orderly neo-classic idiom and belies its chronological context of having been written in the unfettered '60s. Geoffrey Bush's Trio (1953) is likewise based in the Baroque, but is more characteristically French in orientation, with a few Spanish flourishes as well; it is the most melodically driven music in this collection.

The Sundance Trio members -- oboist Geralyn Giovannetti, bassoonist Christian Smith, and pianist Jed Moss -- are faculty members at Brigham Young University, and composer David Sargent, whose Kaleidoscope (2007) is heard here, was until his retirement in 2008 a composition professor at BYU. It stands out in the program by virtue of its slightly wonky, headily contrapuntal style, dressed up with sparing use of jazz chords; it's okay, but doesn't really fit with the other works. The closer, Trocadillos (2003) is by Cleveland-based composer Margaret Griebling-Haigh, who, incidentally, also plays the oboe and has a good sense of its capabilities, but that does not lead her to load this piece up with a lot of writing for the oboe; instrumentally it is pretty well-balanced. On the other hand, its development sections are a bit long in the tooth and the piece could stand some editing. Nevertheless, the Sundance Trio is building its repertoire from the ground up, as the chamber combination of oboe and bassoon -- at least without the clarinet -- hasn't been common since the Baroque trio sonata was all the rage, and that's been a long time. The recording, made at DeJong Concert Hall at BYU, is good; better than average for a university-made recording, though one could use a little more of the bassoon in the mix. Giovannetti's tone on the oboe is attractive and never becomes cloying.

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