R PATERSON Moon Trio. Sun Trio. Elegy
Robert Paterson (b1970) is an award-winning composer (as well as a percussionist and conductor) from Buffalo in New York State. Chamber music makes up a sizeable portion of his output, including two piano trios. Sun Trio (1995, revised 2008) is in five substantial movements, running to 40 minutes. Piano trios are notoriously difficult to balance but Paterson resolves the issues convincingly. The opening ‘Sun Day’ is the largest span, a paean to the star in summer. ‘Sunset’ is a delightful tone poem inspired by the composer’s wife teaching him to tango. ‘Absence of Sun’, ‘Sunrise’ and ‘Sun Dance’ provide further variety of mood. Overall, it is a touch overlong for its material but never irredeemably so; the fine performance here is from 2011, featuring the trio’s founding pianist, Donna Kwong.
Paterson achieved a tighter balance of form and content 20 years later in Moon Trio, written for the Claremont Trio and premiered by them (with new pianist Andrea Lam) in 2015. Its four concise movements are even more diverse in character, ranging from the dreamlike (‘Moonbeams’ and ‘Blue Moon’) to the explosive (the concluding ‘Moon Trip’); Paterson’s sense of humour comes through in the scherzo, ‘Lunatic Asylum’, placed second. The disc is concluded by the gently moving Elegy for two bassoons and piano (2006 07), given here in its 2008 arrangement for two cellos and piano.
The performances by the three different line-ups are vivid and AMR’s sound reasonably clear. The composer’s booklet text needs a proper proof-read but otherwise production values are good.