The contemporary classical scene is one where many new recordings are not pressed in large quantities for the obvious reasons. There is a steady following of listeners but this is not music for the bulk sales some pop artists may expect. So any given modern classical release may not be readily available forever. Quantities are gone at some point and it could be some time before a repressing is forthcoming. That occurs to me as I write up my review notes for a chamber music anthology of eight works by seven composers, I believe all US-based--by residence if not by birth.
Fleeting Visions, Collaborations II (Beauport Classical 1804) came out in 2008 and certainly qualifies as one of the less heralded, small-quantity but large-statured releases of recent years. Some of the composers are not well known to me, others I've appreciated for some time. All turn in worthwhile work here. We've covered the music of some of them on these pages, especially Hawaii-based John Carollo. There are works by Carollo, Arthur Gottschalk, James Scully, Allen Strange, Jamie Leigh Sampson, Jay C. Batzner and two by John G. Bilotta.
The works are in the high-art new modernist zone, written for small ensembles and soloists in sometimes unusual combinations, such as flute and clarinet (Gottschalk, Bilotta), solo clarinet (Scully), solo bassoon (Sampson), solo trumpet (Batzner) solo soprano saxophone (Strange), flute and oboe (Bilotta) and guitar and violin (Carollo). These are distinctively written, well-played works that go beyond the strictly serialist mentality into a less structurally rigorous but more expressive and personal mode. Some of the music is abstract and angular (Carollo, Bilotta) others more referential (Strange's Laurel and Hardy tribute), but all worth hearing.
I am glad to have this one. The music is good, the instrumentation ever-shifting, and the overall thrust artful. It will definitely appeal to those who enjoy the more intimate and unusual chamber lineups playing shorter works of a thoroughgoing individuality. Grab a copy now while you can.
John was born in Torino, Italy and brought to the U.S. by his adoptive parents. When he was in grade school, he played classical piano and sang in the church choir.
He attended college at San Diego, CA, studying music and psychology. During this time, John took piano lessons and began composing his first piano works. He graduated from San Diego State University with a Masters Degree in Psychology.
The composer moved to Honolulu and began a full-time mental health career for the State of Hawaii and started private composition lessons with Dr. Robert Wehrman. His first composition under Bob's tutelage was a piano suite in six parts. Following this effort, Robert encouraged John to compose an atonal work in 1998 entitled Frenetic Unfoldings for Solo Violin. After completing this large work, the composer focused his energies on compositions incorporating various instrumentations.
John quit his public servant job to compose full-time in 2006. He writes poetry and collects art, including the books, art and ephemera of Edward Gorey, a lifetime hobby.