David Biedenbender Chamber Music Impresses

I first became aware of David Biedenbender’s music this past year. I attended a Garth Newel Piano Quartet concert, and they performed his “Solstice.” I was impressed. 

It was a wonderfully evocative work. Biedenbender takes the listener through the four seasons in the country. His string writing recreates the sounds of summer, and the piano the flurry of snow (to cite two examples). 

I was very excited then, to have this release cross my desk. Especially as it contained “Solstice.”

The album includes a second work played by the quartet. This one includes clarinetist Mingzhe Wang. “Red Vespers”  was commissioned to celebrate the Capitol Reef National Park. It’s an expansive, though thinly-textured work. And it captures the essence of absorbing the beauty of a vast landscape.

The Pittsburgh New Music Ensemble performs “Shell and Wing, ” which they commissioned.  It reflects the anxiety of parents in the wake of almost continual school shootings. Who says classical music isn’t relevant?

Robert Fanning provided the text for “Shell and Wing,” as well as the title track. “All We Are Given We Cannot Hold” reflects on the fragility of life.

To my ears, Biedenbender’s music effectively blends several elements. He writes strong melodic lines that are tonal, but free of the major/minor straightjacket. He uses the motivic energy of minimalism at times. And often the music simply hangs in space, not moving, but just existing.

I hope there are more recordings coming from this remarkable composer.

David Biedenbender: All We Are Given We Cannot Hold
Garth Newel Piano Quartet with Mingzhe Wang
Pittsburgh New Music Ensemble; Haven Trio

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