|Review of Perennials CD
in July/August 2013 Fanfare Magazine
reviewed by Lynn René Bayley
Dorff's music, we learn in the liner notes, has been commissioned by
the Philadelphia Orchestra's education department as well as by the
Minnesota Orchestra's Kinder Konzert series. His music has also been
performed by the symphony orchestras of Baltimore, Pittsburgh,
Louisville, Detroit, St. Louis, and Oregon. With his strong affiliation
with Philly's and Minnesota's youth series, one might expect the
music to be rather kiddie-like, but such is not the case. It is, most
certainly, cheerful and appealing music, but unlike some modern
composers writing in a tonal style, Dorff manages to maintain his
compositional dignity. His music is full of unexpected harmonic and
rhythmic twists and turns, it fully engages the intellect, yet it is
also thoroughly enjoyable music. Would that all composers wrote thus!
perfect example of where Dorff is at, musically, is the scherzo of Perennials. Though
played in a very chipper, upbeat 3/4 tempo (or possibly 3/8-I
haven't seen the score), Dorff manages to move the music into
occasionally further harmonic changes than one might ordinarily expect.
This kind of movement keeps the music sounding fresh in addition to
being delightful, while the following movement, titled "Winter
Prayer," has a kind of feeling that one associates with the Paul
Winter Consort (yet another group whose music is far more complex than
they are usually given credit for). Small wonder that the entire CD is
named after this work!
very light fare, designed to enchant rather than stimulate. Dorff
explains that the first piece felt lyrical and "full of a sighing
motif," while the second was inspired by the style of Antonio Carlos
Jobim. Dorff's arrangements of four of Bach's Two-Part Inventions
are more in the nature of a reworking of these keyboard works for two
winds, to which Scott and Garrison, who generally perform as The
Scott/Garrison Duo, add their own embellishments as they feel them.
and Variations is
the earliest of Dorff's compositions heard here, written when he was
only 19 as a birthday present for flautist Sharon Ostow Rousmaniere.
It's evident from this piece that Dorff's style was already fairly
well formulated at a young age; the music owes something to the
contrapuntal style of baroque composers, but is already in the process
of becoming something different. The Three
Little Waltzes is, again, fairly light
and airy music, described by the composer as "a quirky set of
surprises" written for flautist Cindy Anne Broz, but I was much more
captivated by his delightful Two
much of the quirkiness one heard in Perennials returns.
and Canons return
us once again to a lighter genre, yet once again Dorff's delightfully
quirky sense of harmonic movement holds our interest. (Dorff, who played
these pieces at the Cabbagetown Café in Ithaca with flautist
Rousmaniere, once had "an elegant gentleman" come up to the stand,
ask to borrow Sharon's flute, and played "with a tone and resonance
I had never heard." It was only after the man had left the restaurant
that he discovered the flautist was Jean-Pierre Rampal!)
found this disc to be a refreshing, light but not insubstantial
mood-lifter for those days when everything seems black, and I recommend
it on that basis.