Robert PatersonCD cover art

Star Crossing

American Modern Ensemble

American Modern Recordings

  • Sextet
  • The Thin Ice of Your Fragile Mind
  • Star Crossing
  • Embracing the Wind
  • Elegy
  • Skylights
  • Quintus

The American Modern Ensemble gives splendid and vibrant recordings of these seven works by composer Robert Paterson. Paterson’s music is bright and shiny with a lot of timbral spectacle. Gestures are sparkling and bright and the AME balances the spiky rhythms and quick bursts of energy with fluidity. The pitch world is very much in line with the shiny timbres of the pieces; chords are based on extending tertian harmonies and traditional functions.

Most of the pieces are scored for the stereotypical grouping of flute, clarinet, violin, cello, piano, and percussion (or a subset of that instrumentation). Paterson’s approach to pitch, rhythm, and timbre stays constant across pieces which, on a casual listening, can make it difficult to tell when one piece stops and another piece starts. The exceptions are Embracing the Wind which thins the ensemble to flute/alto flute, viola, and harp. This composition stands out with a thinner amount of activity but also the husky viola tone and the harp stepping in to the piano’s shoes. The following Elegy for two bassoons and piano refreshed my sonic palette, too. Nevertheless, the AME provides strong performances of Paterson’s signature sounds.

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