Truman Harris: A Warm Day in Winter

review truman harris x1 cong

This is a jolly album of bassoon-led pieces.

Yes: you study all your life, you’re really good and you put out a complex album … and it’s summed up as jolly. All that effort for one word. Jolly hockey sticks is what always comes to mind when we play this, but we’re not really sure what that means.

This album features six works and the bassoon and flute (the former played on some tracks by Harris, an orchestral bassoonist) feature a lot. It reminded us of jazz in the way the instruments take the lead but it’s not for fancy solos, just runs of notes. Hunting online we found a biography of Harris: Gramophone magazine called his music “winsome and engaging,” and Music Web International wrote that the album is “hugely enjoyable,” which it is. Jolly is what they meant; perky maybe.

The pieces on here suggest a man who understands the complexities of music but, as a working musician, knows the importance of getting bums on seats and balances the two out. That’s not to say this is workmanlike music: it’s subtle and varied, and he favours the wind instruments.

We can’t pick out standouts. It’s all to a quality, though the opening piece Rosemoor Suites captures the imagination straight away. It’s all evocative; there are moments of modernism but Mr H is always thinking of his audience, so there’s nothing even remotely scary on here.

The Eclipse Chamber Orchestra/Sylvia Alimena play. Recommended for when you want something entertaining and easy, but not anodyne. And if you like the bassoon, obviously.

Out on Naxos 8.559858.

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