A Prague Spring
A Prague Spring

Music of Peter Homans

MMC Recordings

Plié De Trois, Sue-Ellen Hershman-Tcherepnin, flute; Donald Berman, piano; Anne Black, viola
4 Choruses, Silesian Radio Orchestra and Chorus
Quintino, Sue-Elle Hershman-Tcherepnin, flute; Katherine Matasy, clarinet; Hugh Hinton, piano; Anne Black, viola; Michael Curry, cello; conducted by Scott Wheeler
A Prague Spring,Catherine Saunders, solo flute; Czech Radio Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Vlad Valek

Plié de trois, a light piece for flute, viola, and piano, is delightful and charming. I told my wife that it sounded a lot like a “French Prokofiev,” to which she replied “So, you mean it sounds like Poulenc?” Yes. That was exactly what I meant. The piece creates an outdoor cafe kind of atmosphere. Pleasant, light, and listenable. 4 Choruses sets poetry by Richard Wilbur (“The Milkweed,” “Thyme Flowering Among the Rocks,” “The Lilacs,” and “Rondeau”) into one seamless musical fabric. Each chorus has its own distinct character but I wasn’t able to find a satisfying emotional arc encompassing all four choruses. I think this would be more effective if the poems were separated or framed with more musical space so the listener can digest the different components.

Quintino is far and away my favorite work on the disc. The piece is rhythmically active, spiky, colorful, and takes the listener on quite a ride. The formal design seems rather “stream of consciousness” to me but there are enough recurring motivic gestures and punctuations that make it all hang together. Lush harmonic choices are balanced against sharp dissonances and there is never a dull moment. A Prague Spring for flute and small orchestra, is very lyrical and quasi-pastorale in mood. Given the program notes about various Czech revolutions that were squashed, I was surprised that this work was so serene, pretty, and contemplative without a sense of violence, despair, or sadness. Or hope and longing. Emotionally, the piece is rather light in character which means that I’m not quite getting the connection to the program notes or that the program notes are focusing on the wrong things.

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