'Red Desert' Reviews are no Mirage

Professor of Composition David Crumb

November 3, 2015—In the spring of 2015, David Crumb, the accomplished composer and UO professor of composition, released his album Red Desert on the Bridge label. Since that time, Red Desert’s four world-premiere recordings have garnered numerous positive responses from critics.

Acclaim for the album includes positive reviews from Gramophone magazine, Music Web International, Broad Street Review, Audiophile Audition, and WTJU 91.1 FM (the radio station of the University of Virginia).

With the diversity of the album’s four tracks, Crumb displays his versatility. The composer states that the inspiration behind title track “Red Desert Triptych” arose from visits to the national parks of Utah, and notes the solo piano composition is “arguably my most ambitious work to date.”

Crumb’s ensemble piece “Primordial Fantasy,” composed for the Orchestra 2001 ensemble, harkens back to the era of earth’s birth, while “Soundings” is a piece for the perhaps unlikely combination of clarinet, bassoon, and piano.

Cover of the album "Red Desert" by David CrumbThe final work on the album, Crumb’s haunting “September Elegy,” was a response to the tragic events of 9/11.

“I recall experiencing feelings of shock, sadness, and disbelief,” Crumb writes in the album’s liner notes, “and it was at this point that I chose to dedicate the piece to the victims of the terrorist attack.

Notably, Red Desert includes performances by numerous SOMD faculty members, including Tyler Abbott, bass; Pius Cheung, percussion; Fritz Gearhart, violin; Louis DeMartino, clarinet; Kathryn Lucktenberg, violin; Steve Pologe, cello; Melissa Peña, oboe; Bob Ponto, conductor; Steve Vacchi, bassoon; Lydia Van Dreel, horn; Sean Wagoner, percussion; and Laura Zaerr, harp.

“I am immensely grateful for having the opportunity to collaborate with so many brilliant and accomplished musicians, and for their superb performances on this disc,” Crumb writes.