Nostalgia

Description: 
Proust for bassoon
Composers: 
Justin Rubin
Performers: 
Jefferson Campbell
Pat O'Keefe
Shannon Wettstein
Gene Koshinski
Josh Aerie
Samuel Black
Catalog Number: 
#738
Genre: 
new classical
Collection: 
chamber
bassoon
Location: 

Duluth, MN

UPC: 
726708673826
Price: 
$15.00
Release Date: 
Dec 11, 2011
Liner Notes: 
View
Format: 
1 CD

Nostalgia

One Sheet: 

At a crossroads where melancholy and sentiment meets irony and a wry smile lies the work of Justin Rubin, a composer whose life as a keyboardist of both the avant-garde and music from the 17th century have informed a unique style that unblushingly blends old and sometimes outmoded forms with an unmistakably modern expression. Unrestricted by styles or systems, his world is a coalescence of vastly differentiated sonorities that somehow come together coherently within one hard-to-classify lexicon of sound. What always comes forth, though, is that his work remains eloquent, communicative, and approachable. 

“Nostalgia” not only describes Rubin’s character but is also a key piece on this CD that features an ongoing collaboration with the University of Minnesota Duluth Professor of Composition’s colleague Jefferson Campbell in the creation of new chamber works featuring bassoon. Ranging from an austere solo work to a seductive trio with clarinet and piano featuring Patrick O’Keefe and Shannon Wettstein (both members of the St. Paul-based ensemble Zeitgeist) and a incensed monstrosity with the multi-percussion virtuoso Gene Koshinski, Campbell has coaxed the bassoon into the role of a bona fide contemporary solo instrumental star with incomparable interpretive insight and exuberance. 

Recorded appropriately in one of the oldest venues in Minnesota, the CD closes with a duet featuring the historic turn-of-the-century Sacred Heart Felgemaker organ performed on by the notable Samuel Black. Rubin’s music has been aptly described as possessing an “understated warmth and intimacy” (Ken Keuffel Jr., Arizona Daily Star) and it is perhaps this quality that shines throughout the varied chamber works represented on this first recording dedicated entirely to him. 

Reviews: 

Justin Rubin chairs the Composition program at the University of Minnesota-Duluth. He’s been fortunate to find advocates for his music among his faculty colleagues at UMD. In particular, bassoonist Jefferson Campbell has commissioned and championed a number of his recent works. They comprise most of the program on Nostalgia, Rubin’s Innova disc.

In this postmodern era, many composers, even the Neoromantic ones, eschew overt nostalgia or sentimentality. They prefer to compose quasi-tonally, but in a passionate or heroic vein. One can understand why ‘heart-on-sleeve’ signatures might be approached with care. But Rubin’s music manages a tenuous balance: channeling the nostalgic without ever cloying. This is certainly abetted by Campbell’s sensitive, seamlessly accurate playing. He strikes just the right tone on the title work, allowing its gentle melodies to be poignant but never overwrought. He performs with considerably incisive flair on the wide-ranging and intriguing solo piece Recitative Styrienne and with percussionist Gene Koshinski on a series of elegantly neoclassical Bagatelles for Bassoon and Marimba.

Un Temps Calme, on the other hand, is in a more contemplative vein, channeling the language of Messiaen and supplying Campbell with long, supple melodies of considerable loveliness. Also noteworthy is the Hindemith-tinged Variations on ‘Nun komm, der Heiden Heiland,’ a piece based on an old Lutheran chorale. Clarinetist Patrick O’Keefe and pianist Shannon Wettstein are a nimble pair. Alongside Koshinksi, they also provide a sterling rendering of the shimmering, all-too-brief trio Il Momento Iussureggiante per tre musicisti.

Rubin is a composer whose oeuvre already suggests that, musically speaking, one can put new wine in old bottles without detriment.

- Christian Carey, Sequenza 21

A large part of the US label Innova’s catalog is devoted to contemporary classical music by living and often young composers. This kind of music often falls outside my fields of interest, but this particular record strikes a chord. First of all, I love bassoon, and all the works save one on this disc feature that instrument, either solo, in duo (with piano, marimba, organ, or cello) and trio (with some of the aforementioned or clarinet). Jefferson Campbell is a quiet and careful bassoonist, characteristics that serve Rubin’s compositions very well. Rubin’s music pairs modernity (modal games) and tradition (his melodies display a strong impressionistic influence). I was hooked right from “Night Song for Noa.” And after a number of variations, bagatelles, and estampies comes the lengthy concluding piece for bassoon and organ, “Un temps calme,” refocusing the proceedings on a modern paradigm with a contemplative, minimal work of serene beauty. Highly recommended. He performs with considerably incisive flair on the wide-ranging and intriguing solo piece Recitative Styrienne and with percussionist Gene Koshinski on a series of elegantly neoclassical Bagatelles for Bassoon and Marimba. 

Rubin is a composer whose oeuvre already suggests that, musically speaking, one can put new wine in old bottles without detriment.

- Francois Couture, Monsieur Delire

...I really enjoyed all of the pieces on this disc. They are wonderful additions to the bassoon repertoire and will add a welcome contrast to many recital programs. I hope that Justin Rubin continues to compose for the bassoon and that these works are available commercially soon.

- Daniel Lipori, Double Reed

Listed on Delire Actuel's 2009 Demanding Music Top 30.

- Delire Actuel

 

In this postmodern era, many composers, even the Neoromatic ones, eschew overt nostalgia or sentimentality. One can understand why heart-on-sleeve gestures might be approached with care. but Rubin's music manages to channel the nostalgic without becoming cloying, a tenuous balance abetted by Campbell's sensitive, accurate playing. He strikes just the right tone on the title work allowing it's gentle melodies to be poignant but never overwrought.

- Signal to Noise

FANFARE
"Accessible without being predictable, warmly expressive, and generally lyrical. ... "Night Song for Noa" ... exudes an Eric Satie-like quirkiness."
Ronald E. Grames

FANFARE
"Rubin is a skilled artisan. ... Campbell plays these works with ample sensitivity ... Rubin's music ... doesn't allow itself to get trapped in -isms."
Raymond Tutttle