Gwyneth Walker

A Fine Craftsbury Chamber Premiere

by Jim Lowe, The Times Argus, Barre-Montpelier, Vermont

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Celebrating its 25th anniversary, the Craftsbury Chamber Players premiered Braintree composer Gwyneth Walker's striking Craftsbury Trio last night at Champlain College's Alumni Auditorium. ...

For its 25th year, the Craftsbury Chamber Players commissioned Vermont composer Gwyneth Walker to create Craftsbury Trio for piano, violin, and cello. The 42 year-old Walker is one of the founding members of the Consortium of Vermont Composers and has built a reputation for combining thoroughly modern composition with a popularly accessible sheen. She is one of the very few in the state to make her living entirely by composing.

Although a Connecticut native, her Craftsbury Trio has a decidedly Vermont flavor. The work follows a traditional four movement allegro-andante-scherzo-allegro form with the movements colorfully titled.

"Up Country Toccata" opens with a lively "country style" theme first in the piano, then tossed around and varied here and there by all three instruments. The piano is clearly the melody instrument, with the strings providing ornamentation and punctuation.

"The Lark in the Morning," based loosely on a folk song, begins the day with one bird call joined by others that weave in and out. This is a beautifully lyrical movement, with a sort of French-Oriental flair, although it rambles a bit. It closes in characteristic Walker style with the musicians making fluttering sounds on their instruments.

The third movement, "You Can Buy It at the General Store," is a quasi-scherzo of humor and syncopation. The finale, "Craftsbury Common," an elegy to a rural town's beauty, combines a static Minimalist background with beautifully haunting melodies.

The Trio was given a committed and loving performance by three of Craftsbury's finest -- pianist Mary Anthony Cox, cellist Mary Lou Rylands, both founding members of the Players, and violinist Mary Rowell, a Craftsbury native building a solo career in New York City. This is a most enjyoable work and repeated performances and listenings will undoubtedly reveal even more.

From The Times Argus, Barre-Montpelier, Vermont, July 26, 1990