All across the musical planet we live on today, in the world of Classical music there are living composers galore, lots of them and not surprisingly many excellent ones, with some, maybe most not getting wide social recognition. I try to cover the ones I like, though it is not exactly helping my statistical readership ratings by posting on relatively lesser knowns. A Beethoven post naturally might as a matter of course boost my ratings. Because as a midwestern concert goer reacted in the late 1800s and the introduction of Beethoven to ordinary folks, he wrote “some kinda music!” I’ve posted on Beethoven here because I love him as much as anyone, and new ways of hearing, of performing, new attention to his various periods, all are good things that continue to have relevance to us all.
Bur today we need to consider another name new to us, some of us, someone who in his own way writes some rather special music. I speak happily of one Stephen Jaffee, born in 1954 and very much a living voice. I was glad to be able to hear Jaffe’s recent Volume 4 of his multivolume series, The Music of Stephen Jaffee, Light Dances (Bridge 9563). On it we have some three chamber works that strike me as uniquely triumphant, not necessarily novel in avant terms but then nevertheless exceptionally well expressed, sublime originals that carry into my listening as something vital, alive.
The works stand out in their vibrant rhythmicality, their tone color originality, their harmo-melodic avoidance of cliche or dependency upon fashionable phrases in currency.
So we have a good variety of configurations in the “Light Dances (Chamber Concerto No. 2),” as ably performed by the Da Capo Chamber Players, the “String Quartet No. 2 (Aeolian and Sylvan Figures)” by the Borromeo String Quartet, and finally the “Sonata in Four Parts” with David Hardy on cello and Lambert Orkis on piano.
I do recommend this without hesitation for the New Music adventurer. Jaffe has a way about him that is unmistakably memorable and individual.