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Review of Perennials CD in July/August 2013 American Record Guide
reviewed by Todd Gorman


Daniel Dorff (b. 1956) has written and arranged enough for flute and clarinet to fill an entire program - 28 tracks, but who's counting? There are four of Bach's Two-Part Inventions and all the rest is Dorff.

The cover is a photo of goldenrod taken by the composer. "I have always felt that composing is about building repertoire that endures, as do perennial plants, rather than popping out annual crops," he says. The 19-minute trio called Perennials dates from 2011, and the oldest work goes back to 1975, so this release also offers a survey of Dorff's writing across time.

There is a Pastorale for clarinet and piano, but all the rest involves flute and clarinet. This Pastorale is not all meditative, but has some jazzy licks that are played with relish by Shannon Scott. I have praised the playing of flutist Leonard Garrison before; both he and Scott play with all the professionalism I expected. The sound is quite natural.

Dorff's music is easy enough to listen to without becoming anodyne. It sounds fresh rather than just simple. The titles should tell you as much: Three Little Waltzes and Two Cats don't come from Pierre Boulez, right? The scherzo of Perennials could have been written by Eric Ewazen (b 1954), if that tells you more, and I don't mean to take anything away from either composer with the comparison. Both write music that sounds like now in the most accessible way possible.

more about the Perennials CD