Gulfstream (Various American Chamber Music) (NAXOS 8.559692)
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Libby Larsen's Rodeo Queen of Heaven takes its inspiration from religious iconography given a contemporary twist - a painting of a Madonna with gun - in a rhythmically vivacious tableau. Peter Lieuwen presents an aural portrait of the Gulfstream, fusing grace with melodic fragments in a nature depiction rich in depth. Peter Schickele's Quartet is profuse in syncopation, jazz, folk music and a melancholy that only heightens the brilliance of the finale's off-kilter dynamism. Copland's Sextet began life as his Second Symphony but, pared down, proves utterly idiomatic, vital, melodically exciting and bracing.
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