The cover of this release shows two old friends sharing a moment — composer Poul Ruders and guitarist David Starobin. Their 30+ year relationship has been extraordinarily fruitful. This release presents a few of Ruders’ works commissioned by Starobin.
Occam’s Razor is a philosophical principle: the simplest explanation is usually the best. Just as Occam’s Razor trims away convoluted explanations, Ruders pares his music down to its basics with these works.
The title track is a 2013 work for oboe and guitar. Each of the eight extremely short movements is a model of conciseness. It’s a pithy conversation between oboe and guitar that works on several levels. Each brief movement makes its own point, and the movements fit together to make a larger structure.
Schrodinger’s Cat is a thought experiment used to explain quantum mechanics. Quantum particles exist in two states simultaneously. When observed, though, the particles collapse into a single state. The twelve canons Ruders wrote in 2012 share that concept.
The violin represents one state, the guitar the other. And the music bounces back and forth, simultaneously moving and developing until suddenly, it comes together. The description doesn’t’ do the work justice — even without knowing the concept behind it, a listener can enjoy the music on its own merits. And when it comes to complex counterpoint, Schrodinger’s Cat is exceptionally meritorious.
My favorite works, though, were the simplest. Ruders wrote a series of short pieces for guitar titled “Pages.” How short? Each piece fills exactly one page of manuscript paper. With only a page, there’s no room for elaborate development or expositions. These pieces are elegantly simple and beautiful.
David Starobin is an exceptional guitarist. Here he’s performing music he knows intimately created by his friend. So yes, if you enjoy contemporary music or classical guitar music, this is the disc to get.
Poul Ruders: Occam’s Razor
New Music with Guitar, Vol. 11
David Starobin, guitar
Liang Wang, oboe; Daniel Druckman, percussion; Movses Pegossian, Amaila hall, violin; Xiaobo Pu, YunXianGan, Hao Yang, guitar
Bridge Records 9500