Wayne Alpern : The Shape of Strings Review
Wayne Alpern is a New York City composer, arranger, and scholar. Alpern is fluent in composing in many styles of music, from pop, jazz, and world idioms that use classical techniques to yield a sophisticated contemporary style that crosses any genre label and sits in the category of “good” music. Going by Duke Ellington’s classification, there are only two types of music, good and bad. Alpern’s innovative compositions, recompositions, and rearrangements have been performed and recorded by distinguished artists from diverse musical traditions. The Shape of Strings features director Monica Bauchwitz and the String Orchestra of New York City performing nine of Alpern’s original compositions.
“Divertimento 1” is the first selection, and instantly the warm sonorities of Alpern’s writing will draw you into his imaginative space. The movement has a dancing, rhythmic theme that propels the composition as his romantic melodies intertwine to build and delight us. The use of various key centers, pizzicato, and varying degrees of densities all flow naturally, as Alpern, clearly demonstrates he has an ear for classical music that accepts textures and colors from a wide range of influences. Alpern’s composing style is naturally engaging, well-written, orchestrated, and easily listenable.
“Serenade 3” is Alpern showing his strength in counterpoint layers that optimize tonal relationships and clarity of textures between the voices. Alpern exploits the full range of color, expressive techniques, and the different characters of the string orchestra. Upon listening to the piece unfold, we get a true sense that Alpern carefully selects and organizes the parts for maximum style, elegance, and expression. This clarity allows the music to grow around you, enveloping your senses and taking you on a journey of musical exploration.
The Shape of Strings brings us three movements rich in cross-rhythmic implications, textured counterpoint, and beautiful modern harmonic/melodic colors. Alpern’s style is easy to listen to and transcends genres by grabbing the listeners’ attention with his command of melody, space and activity, and intelligent development of motifs and forms.
The Shape of Strings
September 9, 2022
Henri Elkan Music