ALPHA: Through the Looking Glass
21 May 2014
From one collection of new recorder music to another, the Alpha Trio’s “Through the Looking Glass” is a set of short works and excerpts arranged by the members of the trio for recorder, saxophone, and percussion.
These pieces are by four of the most prominent contemporary Danish composers and span nearly four decades. Both the oldest, Flowersongs (1973), and the most recent, an excerpt from Schnee (2008), belong to Hans Abrahamsen. Liveliness and energy have persisted through his career, along with a knack for keeping the listener interested by presenting something immediately likeable and slowly complicating and twisting the musical material to keep that listener guessing. His works are my favorites on the record, but everything here is engaging and exciting. Poul Ruders mostly follows a “post-minimalist” style, though his Carnival (1980) here begins with what sounds like beatboxing through a recorder and saxophone.
Just as important as the quality of the original works is the arrangements. The Alpha Trio has done an exemplary job in this music, transforming it and delivering it in their own voices while staying true to what made the originals great. This record makes a fine addition to any collection of new chamber music.