Naxos’s American Classics series turns to Truman Harris (b1945), his tenures as bassoonist in Washington’s National Symphony and Eclipse Chamber orchestras explaining why woodwind features prominently across his output – with the present disc a representative selection.
His fluency is well demonstrated in both the vignettes of Aulos Triptych and the laconicism of the Double Bassoon Sonata, both of which should appeal to musicians who find themselves participating in such unusual combinations. Of the works for wind quintet, Rosemoor Suite offers five evocations of neighbourhood environs, by turns winsome and engaging, not least in the pithy theme-and-variations of ‘Fantasia’ or the lively imagery conjured up by ‘Silent Movie’. If these inhabit the urbane neoclassicism of Françaix, the six briefer miniatures of Flowers seem closer to Poulenc in their graceful contours enlivened by harmonic piquancy.
More substantial fare is provided by the two concertinos. That for horn follows its muscular opening Allegro with an ‘Arias and Recitatives’ whose incremental revealing of unexpected depths is thrown into relief by the droll closing Rondo. The Concertino for flute follows a similar trajectory – its wistful Andante as deftly complemented by the elegant opening Allegro as by the perky closing Allegretto with its affectionate homage to the French woodwind tradition.
The concerttinos receive admirable performances by Laurel Bennert Ohlson and Alice Kogan Weinreb, while all the other players confirm the respect and regard in which Harris is held. Indeed, the appeal of this music to wind musicians everywhere can hardly be doubted.