DAVID SAMPSON - Notes From Faraway Places

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DAVID SAMPSON - Notes From Faraway Places - Various Works - Various Artists/Ensembles - 099402681924 - Released: September 2016 - Summit Records DCD681

Fanfare for Canterbury Cathedral (Double Brass Quintet)
Tenebrae (Trumpet and Organ)
Without Warning (Piano)
Mock Attack (Clarinet)
A Family Portrait (Brass Quintet)
Evensong (Tuba and Electronics)
The Death of Macbeth (Solo Timpani and Percussion Quartet)
Notes From Faraway Places, Suite 3 (solo trumpet + duets)
Smoky Mountain Fanfare (Brass Quintet)
Changewater (Eight Trombones)
Inamere (12 Trumpets)

American composer David Sampson (b. 1951) is highly prolific. His list of compositions which range from pieces for Viola and Flugelhorn, solo vocal and choral, percussion quartets, to a Concerto for Violin and Orchestra, seems endless. And since a good portion of his music has been commissioned, you would think that somewhat like a pulp fiction writer, he doles it all out quickly using the same cookie-cutter over and over again. Well you would be surprised at the variety of styles, techniques and emotive touches he extends to all of his works. He obviously writes music for musicians in order to expand each and every instrument's repertoire. Regardless if you're a singer or which instrument you play, I'm sure you will find a piece by David Sampson that applies to you.

The divergence of approach could not be more acute than in the difference between the Tenebrae, warmly and expressively performed by Raymond Mase (trumpet) and Trent Johnson (organ). A piece that strongly reminds me of Aaron Copland's Quiet City in its melancholy and evocative melodic line. And the highly demanding Inamere performed by Students from The Juilliard School with a commanding technique and punctilious accuracy. It's also obvious that brass instruments and/or wind ensembles seem to be the instrumentation of choice for this composer, but his output for the piano or percussion is well in keeping with the capabilities and expressive range of these instruments. Even the electronics used in Evensong are there to complement the Tuba and not distract from it. You would be surprised as to how well this combination works.

His music has been widely recorded, but this collection brings together some of his best output spanning many years, and showcases a composer whose main intent is to approach music with taste and integrity, and write music that not only communicates with the musician, but also speaks to his audience.

Jean-Yves Duperron - November 2017