In Common: intimate expressions of natural forces and interior landscapes, in the form of duets for a vast array of instruments, including guitars, baroque flutes, saxophones, temple bowls, cowbells, and a prepared piano...The composer's voice is personal yet direct, a singular fusion of Eastern and Western traditions...This recording creates a unique sonic and emotional world...
Connecticut composer David Macbride has a knack for chamber music, especially the conversational and timbral aspects of the medium. In these recent sets of mellifluous duets the interplay between the musicians is elegant, intense, and catches the listener up in an intriguing dialog. Whether the instruments are similar (like a pair of baroque flutes) or dissimilar (like violin and temple bowls or prepared piano with percussion) the push-pull of just two players is always delightfully engaging and gives the impression of a larger ensemble. These are not academic exercises in a restrictive medium but rather a captivating chance to eavesdrop on virtuoso couples.
In Common gathers duets composed by David Macbride between 1993 and 1998. The approach varies from one work to the other. Three of the six pieces are for two similar instruments; on two of these, "Madrigal" (for two classical guitars [electric]) and "Shadow" (for baroque flutes), both parts develop in the same direction. One instrument takes the lead, the other follows behind or accompanies. But on "A Round," the two saxophone parts work in opposition: soft/loud, near/far, composed/improvised, etc. The remaining three pieces pair odd couples of instruments. On "In Common," after a solo part by each musician, the violin takes the lead accompanied by the temple bowls in a very lyrical piece. The two "Conundrum" compositions epitomize the wide range covered by this album: The first one, written for piano and marimba/xylophone, uses a chromatic scale, while "From Without (Conundrum 2)," for prepared piano and timbrack (a group of miscellaneous resounding objects arranged in a scale), blends western and eastern scales into a piece close to Harry Partch's most percussive works.
Highlights on In Common include the inventive use of the low end of the marimba in "Conundrum," the flute playing of John Solum and Richard Wyton on "Shadow," and the beautiful interplay on "A Round," the latter piece alone being worth the trouble to track down this album. ~ François Couture, Rovi