American Music for Marimba
Works by Michael Burritt, Eric Ewazen, Emmanuel Séjourné and Ivan Trevino
Calum Huggan (marimba)
Delphian DCD34266 55:28 mins
For his debut solo album, Scottish marimbist Calum Huggan has turned to the USA and a quartet of composers, likely discoveries for UK listeners and those unfamiliar with the percussion world. Three are themselves eminent percussionists, and all are linked through an approach to musical style that eschews any supposed boundary between classical and pop forms.
Indeed, in various ways each of the pieces here – all short bar one, and performed with an elegant, easy virtuosity by Huggan – owes as much to popular songwriting as to traditional classical forms. In soft cascades of sound, Michael Burritt’s opening Prelude I sets a delicate tone that permeates the album regardless of changing moods, emphasising melody and colour.
There are four pieces by Burritt, and five in premiere recordings by his one-time pupil Ivan Trevino, capped by the fine Memento with its pensive air and expressive harmonic shifts. Complementing both, Emmanuel Séjourné’s Nancy rises from a barely perceptible opening into a kind of tender ballad, resonant with tremolo. Lengthiest and most deceptively demanding to play is Eric Ewazen’s Northern Lights. Composed in 1990, this big-hearted now-classic of the repertoire is played with a lyrical, improvisatory refinement.