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Nine Bagatelles (1999)*, Horacio Gutiérrez, piano
Three Inventions for Solo Bassoon (1962), Steven Dibner, bassoon
Adagietto con affetto from Chansons Cachées (1997), Shirley Perle, piano
Two French Christmas Carols (arr. 1958) The New York Virtuoso Singers, Harold Rosenbaum, conductor
Triptych for Solo Violin and Piano (2002), Curtis Macomber, violin, Chistopher Oldfather, piano
Brief Encounters (String Quartet No. 9) (1998); DePaul String Quartet
Concerto No. 2 for Piano and Orchestra (1992), Michael Boriskin, piano, Utah Symphony, Joseph Silverstein, conductor
Serenade No. 3 for Piano and Chamber Orchestra (1983), Richard Goode, piano, Music Today Ensemble, Gerard Schwarz, conductor
Solo Partita for Violin and Viola (1965), Curtis Macomber, violin and viola
Six Celebratory Inventions (1981-95), Molly Morkoski, piano
Bassoonmusic (2004), Steven Dibner, bassoon
Quintet for Strings (1957-58), Chicago String Quartet
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"Perle – A Retrospective is a two-CD set from contemporary music specialists and champions, Bridge. It features a dozen works by Perle for various forces; they were all composed between 1957 and 2004. It's one of a handful (others include orchestral works with and the Seattle Symphony Orchestra on Albany Records 292, for piano with Michael Boriskin on New World Records 80342, the and complete wind quintets with the Dorian Wind Quintet also on New World Records 80359) and by far the most substantial collection devoted exclusively to Perle's music. Those interested in the directions that 12-tone music has taken in the last 75 years or so should certainly investigate this set – especially if they're familiar with or curious about the work of Perle."
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--Mark Sealey, Classcial Net, August 2011
"At 91, American composer George Perle remains one of the great unsung modernists, a writer of expressiveness and wit who has never let his idiosyncratic devotion to the 12-tone system stand in the way of lyricism or rhetorical clarity. Local music lovers will remember his stint as the San Francisco Symphony's composer-in-residence from 1989 to 1991, but this handsome collection of his music, spanning nearly a half century, offers a gratifyingly fuller picture of his legacy. The offerings range from the Quintet for Strings of 1957-58 to the elegant BassoonMusic, written just two years ago fo rthe Symphony's Steven Dibner. In between come the delectable Nine Bagatelles for Piano, the Second Piano Concerto and Brief Encounters, an extended suite of short pieces for string quartet. The performances can be a little rough, but the beauty of Perle's music shines through."
--Joshua Kosman, San Francisco Chronicle, December 11, 2006
"This double album is a stimulating survey of the music of an American composer, now 91, who is probably better known as a theorist, but whose creative work brims with vitality. Perle is a pioneering interpreter of Schoenberg's 12-tone technique, but his own music combines that approach with a use of tonality that emerges with unadulterated sweetness in Two French Christmas Carols, performed by the New York Virtuoso Singers. Richard Goode is a persuasive soloist in the deft Serenade No. 3 for Piano and Chamber Orchestra, played by Music Today Ensemble under Gerard Schwarz, while the pianist Horacio Gutierrez sparkles in the Nine Bagaetelles. Three stars.
--Paul Driver, The Sunday Times, January 21, 2007
Perle's gems collected for a set that's a shining example of a composer portrait. In his liner-notes, George Gelles tries to shine light on the nonogenerian composer George Perle as a theorist, performer and scholar. Making such a case for Perle as a thinking individualist seems a tad redundant, since any composer in the past 50 years who's written complex music that people actually want to listen to has had to chart his own path. Gelles's Perle is clearly a "complete musician", but I wonder why Gelles stops there. Any composer who commands such gravitas in thorny technique while keeping emotional depth and lightness of wit demonstrates the completeness of all humanity.
Much has been made of Perle's spiritual connection to Alban Berg, though the range of material on this two-disc collection shows just how much Perle has made of those influences. Just listen to the two earliest pieces here - the charmingly crafted harmonizations of Two French Christmas Carols and the darkly expressionist Quintet for Strings, both from 1958 - and it's hard to conceive of these as coming from the same mind, to say nothing of the same year.
A comparable range exists even in his works for solo instruments. Although Perle himself credits his impetus in solo works to avoiding harmonic structure in a post-diatonic world, there's no mistaking his sonorous feel for the bassoon in Three Inventions (1962) and its lighter follow-up in BassoonMusic (2004), his last completed composition. His Solo Partita for violin and viola (1965) and Triptych for solo violin and piano (2002) likewise show a kindred relationship not only with the instrument but with the individual performer in mind.
This latter connection revelas itself most directly in Perles works for piano, where the range of his musical expression has palpable roots in his writing for specific musicians. Horacio Guttiérrez's playfulness in the Bagatelles is everywhere apparent, whereas Shirley Rhoads Perle's poetic lyricism pulls a profound depth from the Adagietto con affetto from Chansonns cachées.
The best example of this comes in the contrast between the Piano Concerto No.2, which rounds out the first disc, and the Serenade No.3 for piano and orchestra, which opens the second. Pianist Michael Boriskin (for whom the concerto was written) gracefully negotiates a difficult piece, asserting a soloistic presence with the Utah Symphony despite his own description of the concerto as having a "chamber-music ideal work[ing] collectively toward a common goal". Richard Goode (who premiered the Third Serenade) offers a truly chamber-music collaboration withe Music Today Ensemble under Gerard Schwarz, who collectively refract a full spectrum of musical colour from Perle's crystailline shapes.
Ultimately, the Serenade No.3 (reissued from Nonesuch) and the Second Concerto (reissued from Harmoni Mundi) make more than serviceable anchors to this collection, which offers probably the best performances and recording quality any composer could hope for.
--Ken Smith, Gramophone, August 2007