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David Bennett Thomas | Paths

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Igor Stravinsky Maurice Ravel Samuel Barber

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United States - Pennsylvania

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Classical: Contemporary Classical: Twentieth Century Moods: Instrumental
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by David Bennett Thomas

This is an album of new instrumental chamber music that is accessible, virtuosic,and communicative, and played by some of the finest musicians of today.
Genre: Classical: Contemporary
Release Date: 

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  Song Share Time Download
1. Duo for Cello and Piano: I. Slow / Fast
David Bennett Thomas, Jeffrey Solow & Matthew Bengtson
5:48 $0.99
2. Duo for Cello and Piano: II. Sustained
David Bennett Thomas, Jeffrey Solow & Matthew Bengtson
6:51 $0.99
3. Duo for Cello and Piano: III. Scurrying
David Bennett Thomas, Jeffrey Solow & Matthew Bengtson
4:56 $0.99
4. Carla
David Bennett Thomas & Carla Rees
7:12 $0.99
5. Deseo
David Bennett Thomas, Dolce Suono Ensemble, Priscilla Lee, Mimi Stillman & Burchard Tang
14:23 $0.99
6. Paths: I. Energetic / Eager
David Bennett Thomas, David Black, Rarescale & Carla Rees
3:16 $0.99
7. Paths: II. Reflective / Ruminating
David Bennett Thomas, Rarescale, Carla Rees & David Black
6:44 $0.99
8. Paths: III. Breezy / Buoyant
David Bennett Thomas, Rarescale, David Black & Carla Rees
4:12 $0.99
9. Three Pieces for Clarinet and Piano: I. Statement
David Bennett Thomas, Joshua Kovach & Terry Klinefelter
1:56 $0.99
10. Three Pieces for Clarinet and Piano: II. Elegy
David Bennett Thomas, Joshua Kovach & Terry Klinefelter
4:48 $0.99
11. Three Pieces for Clarinet and Piano: III. Idyll
David Bennett Thomas, Joshua Kovach & Terry Klinefelter
2:23 $0.99
Downloads are available as MP3-320 files.


Album Notes
“The chamber works of David Bennett Thomas may be categorized as neo-Romantic, neo-tonal, or even as a kind of sophisticated ‘fusion classical’ but these terms by themselves are inadequate to describe the complex mixtures of elements in his music. His strongest pieces reveal both modernist influences and contemporary applications, though blended to sound original and whole, not like self-conscious parodies or pastiches. Thomas is shrewd enough not to wear his influences on his sleeve, and these presumed sources are reworked with jazz harmonies and influences in an idiosyncratic but distinctive post-modern approach.” 

-All Media Guide

"This is a composer with an individual voice."
-American Record Guide

Liner notes from the CD, by Kile Smith:

Listeners look for categories, but artists freely create, and David Bennett Thomas is, first of all, an artist. Neo-this, post-that, or fusion-with-something-else may be of interest to others, but the artist is interested only in creating, not taxonomy.

Brahms composed pieces as disparate in purpose as A German Requiem and the Liebeslieder Waltzes. Purcell has sacred anthems and irreverent catches. Victor Herbert was just as comfortable writing operettas or cello concertos.

David Bennett Thomas works in jazz and classical music, but he doesn’t put one foot in one and one in the other. He’s a professional, so he commits to either, depending on his purpose. He’s an artist, so he’s true, regardless of what he’s composing. He laughs and loves life, so his music is filled with humor and, perhaps what is most revolutionary in our earnest age, happiness.

These facets are plainly evident in this collection of some of Thomas’s latest solo and chamber works. The Duo for Cello and Piano is a genial introduction to his music. There’s a narrative itching under the just-so title, and that’s part of the attraction. The repeated A’s—sometimes caressed as in the first movement, sometimes incessantly ominous, as in the second—seem like a call from some extra-musical beyond.

His writing is exact, compact, and smart. The second movement’s night-evocative cello harmonics and strummed piano strings are not theatrical for their own sake. When the low A’s pounce in their return, a surprising drama unfolds rightly in a sense you hadn’t imagined.

Thomas wrings lyricism from every phrase as if he can’t help it. Even the last movement, “Scurrying,” sings over and under the leaps and the jokes and an unexpected C major triad he drops in out of nowhere.

Carla, for the flutist Carla Rees, with whom Thomas has collaborated before, is written for alto flute alone. The sumptuousness of this instrument can draw the unwitting composer into a befuddlement of gesture at the expense of music. In a rhythmically free solo work such as this, the temptation is even greater. But Thomas softly entrances us with an inventive chant. To be sure, he employs fluttertonguing and other devices along the way, but they serve the musical line, which is a compelling one. Carla is a dreamy vehicle for a flutist, and a delicious experience for an audience.

For flute, viola, and cello is Deseo. Thomas took the title (Spanish for “desire”) from a poem by Lorca, which begins, “Sólo tu corazón caliente, / Y nada más” (Only your hot heart, and nothing more). The music is all butter and spice. Off in multiple directions it runs, returning always to a languid gaze, as if a window has been opened onto a warm breeze. The window is open, but not the door. Its emotions are unanticipated, but Deseo convinces in the tale it tells.

There are three Paths for alto flute and guitar, and each one ambles through a maze of moods. Thomas writes idiomatically; there is no struggling for effect. In fact, Paths is a work of great beauty. It is so attractive that it is easy to overlook the rhythmic hiccups and metrical shifts that bubble gloriously underneath. Seemingly throwaway lines pick out bop harmonies, but overall, a French classicism pervades the insouciance.

It is at home with itself, this order, this hedged garden of discovery. The duo traverses the curlicues and broad lanes with precision and finesse. Thomas has laid down running borders of rhythm, grand promenades of melody, and bursts of color so gratifying, that Paths deserves repeated visits.

The Three Pieces for Clarinet and Piano provides a good summation of David Bennett Thomas’s voice on this CD. There’s an open quality in all of his music, and here, it results from the many occurrences of intervals of the fourth and fifth. Along with this openness, however, is naturalness, a welcoming attitude. This comes (again, in no small part) from the sure handling of the instruments, a facility in a composer never to be taken lightly. A false step would lead to, at best, overly careful, studied readings.

But musicians are free to make music in Thomas’s works because the composer, ever the intelligent craftsman, has already taken pains on their behalf. Kovach’s clarinet is creamy and even throughout its range, and Klinefelter’s accompaniment is puckish and spot-on. They dive into the gravity and spin out the dancing evident on every page of the score.

Thomas never oversays anything, but establishes his point right and true without fuss. “Statement” is a roadmap of concision and clarity. “Elegy,” written upon the death of the family’s pet Labrador, yields yet more instances of beauty in melody. Far from lugubrious, “Elegy” even entertains a bit of wistful humor at the end. Out of place? No, en famille. The “Idyll” that follows is a warm romp: again open, again inviting, again fun.

Artistry at the service of communication is the hallmark of the music of David Bennett Thomas. Here we may recognize one of the strengths he shares with his mentor for many years, Lukas Foss. This kind of artistry never struts, and might better be called “authenticity.” When music is authentic, as Thomas’s is, there’s no need for neo- or post- or any categories. When there’s artistry, there’s commitment and truth, and even, in the case of David Bennett Thomas, happiness.



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