Review of Family Album by David Starobin, Bridge Records 2007
David Starobin is a fantastic guitar player, we all know it, dedicatee of more than 350 compositions by composers such as Elliott Carter, George Crumb, Lukas Foss, Gunther Schuller, Poul Ruders, and Milton Babbitt, among many others, and founder of record label Bridge Records. His technique is so clear and clean, making it possible to play so fluid and effortless to be able to make easily forget how much this music could sometimes be difficult to perform.
The performance of this Starobin’s Family Album does not disappoint absolutely since it is high level music, impeccably executed. The disc includes the works of four composers (and himself) that guitarist cites as “old friends and collaborators-virtually family”.
Two compositions, one by Starobin, were intended as duets for Starobin and his daughter Allegra (percussionist), his wife Becky is one of the CD’s producer and if you add the presence of “three of my closer registration colleagues during the decades,”it’s pretty obvious why Starobin considers this cd as a so-called “family affair.”
It begins with Six Preludes by William Bland, very melodic and clearly written for those who have an extremely intimate knowledge of their instrument, Starobin defines them”miniatures in the best sense of the word: made with artisan care, pieces from time to both include popular idioms such as ragtime and blues “, and represent the beginning of a project of 48 studies that, in view of the first six, will represent a significant contribution to guitar literature.
The New Rochelle Suite by Poul Ruders is imaginative and cheerful and combines drums (snare drum, bass drum, triangle, castanets, whip and bird calls), played by Daniel Druckman, creating with guitar a delicate mixed plate. Personally I very much appreciated especially the third movement: Thanksgiving.
Tania León was born in Cuba but resides in New York since 1967. His piece Bailarín ( “Dancer”) was written in 1998 as part of beautiful Starobin’s cd “Newdances”, but it arrived too late to join the project. The insistent groove of the piece betrays her Caribbean origins, but the piece vibrates with modern accents and contemporary visions.
Starobin pieces titled Three places in New Rochelle, wink to Charles Ives and allow the percussionist Druckman to express his creativity. “Mirage,” A “Mirage”, the second of three, adds evocative sounds of trianglea, metal bowls filled with water, and water spray to the guitar parts. “The top of Mount Joy” is a love song dedicated by Starobin to his wife from Starobin, accompanied and sometimes “thwarted” in its American style melody by gongs’ “clouds” of sound that slowly disperse in the air.
This record is concluded by the six parts of the Semi-Suite by Paul Lansky freely each one based on a different dance as you can guess from the titles from the humorous tone: “Putative Prelude,” “Aimless Air,” “Crooked Courante,” “Shameless Sarabande,” “Awkward Allemande,” and “Partly Pavane.”
These are snapshots in the album of David Starobin family, which enable us to fully appreciate the author’s stylistic evolution in the course of his career. I really enjoyed spending nearly an hour (53,29) listening to his guitar, a pleasure that I invite you, David Starobin will not disappoint you.