08 Seven PillarsAndy Akiho – Seven Pillars
Sandbox Percussion
Aki Rhythm Productions (andyakiho.com)

Critically acclaimed new music composer Andy Akiho has created a captivating and powerful commission for the Sandbox Percussion quartet in the form of Seven Pillars, the collaboration a labour of love between friends spanning eight years. 

Written as a multimedia chamber work, even without the intended video presentation included, the music is mesmerizing from the instant it opens. The complexity of the work belies the relative simplicity of the acoustic percussion tools at hand: bottles, glockenspiels, drums, wood blocks, metal pipes, sandpaper, marimbas, kick drum. Akiho takes full advantage of the skill and inventiveness of the individual performers by dedicating solo tracks to each, so that he can explore the nuances and textures of the simple objects. It is in the delivery that the writing takes flight. The remaining seven movements are for the full quartet, showing off not only the compositions but the slick performance and tight comradeship of the group. 

Akiho and Sandbox Percussion commissioned 11 video artists to create original films for Seven Pillars – one film for each movement of the work – however the hard copy of the CD makes no mention of this. It does however include a complex insert, a complicated paper cutout designed almost as a stage setting in lieu of the visual films. These took some studying, slowly revealing explanations of the form of each movement in relation to the work as a whole, and spelling out the instruments used (“brake drum” for instance). But the cards can’t quite replace the brilliance of the collaborative videos that encompass the worlds of dance, animation, experimental narrative film, time-lapse and more. They are also a lot more fun, as you can see here: youtube.com/watch?v=EXHORWr6xQ8.

09 A Point On a Slow CurveDana Lyn – A Point On a Slow Curve
Instrumental Ensemble
In A Circle Records (inacircle-records.com/releases)

It took eight years for experimental visual artist Jay DeFeo to complete her mixed media painting The Rose in the 60s. The Rose is over ten feet high and weighs more than one ton. It is this impressively textured and radiant work that drew American composer and violinist Dana Lyn to start her own eight-year compositional journey. The result is A Point on a Slow Curve, a nine-movement sonic poem parallelling the creation of The Rose

Scored for female choir, violin, clarinet, cello, bassoon, vibraphone, bass and drums, A Point on a Slow Curve is experimental in nature, sometimes wild and chaotic, sometimes angelic. The improvisatory sections are tightly connected with contrapuntal writing, depicting the long process of artistic creation. In each movement, Lyn matches the textures of the painting beautifully. She creates endless interconnected lines but somehow the work remains austere and symmetrical in its expression. It is precisely this combination of chaos and uniformity that reflects the scale of The Rose. As the painting illuminates everything from its centre, so does Lyn’s music. That is especially obvious in three movements depicting major drafts of the work in progress – Death Rose, White Rose and, finally, The Rose.

The ensemble playing is exemplary and it includes the composer herself on violin. Lyn’s unconventional music really benefits from the musicians’ improvisational skills, as well as from their imagination.

10 Maija EinfeldeMaija Einfelde – Violin Sonatas
Magdalēna Geka; Iveta Cālīte
LMIC SKANI 129 (skani.lv)

Every now and then there is an album that is simply captivating, the music so powerful that one feels the need to go back to it over and over again. This particular album of sonatas by senior Latvian composer Maija Einfelde (including world premiere recordings of the third sonata and a solo work) had that special effect on me. The three sonatas for violin and piano and one for solo violin were written over the span of the last 20 years of the 20th century. They do not feature any exuberant contemporary violin techniques (though the imitation of the clay bird whistle sounds in the second sonata is delightful) but rather share some similarity with the musical language of Messiaen. What they do feature is an abundance of darkness, shades of deep sonority, profoundness of the life lived and an encompassing artistry. 

This music is supremely focused, there is no note that is unnecessarily placed, and maintaining this sort of conceptual intensity requires both fortitude and heart from the performers. Violinist Magdalēna Geka and pianist Iveta Cālīte have both. These two powerhouses delve deeply into the music of Einfelde, as if their lives depend on it. Geka’s tone is so resonant, so intense and clear (especially in the high register), that one feels its reverberations in the body. What is most impressive is that both artists found a way to add another dimension to Einfelde’s music – joyful, triumphant moments between the waves of darkness. And this is the way that magic happens.

11 Shostakovich 7 LSOShostakovich – Symphony No.7
London Symphony Orchestra; Gianandrea Noseda
LSO Live (lsolive.lso.co.uk)

As I remember, this symphony was performed in Toronto in the 1980s, Gunther Herbig conducting, and I was there and cherish the memory. Today, however, in the 21st century it comes to us in state-of-the-art high resolution technology, live and conducted by a onetime frequent visitor to Toronto, Gianandrea Noseda. His career is currently sky high and this projected complete series of Shostakovich symphonies is very promising.

The Seventh and the Eighth are the so-called War symphonies written during the Second World War. Symphony No.7 was written in 1941 during the Siege of Leningrad where the composer lived and suffered through the starvation, unable to escape. The score was microfilmed, smuggled out to America, conducted by Toscanini and became an international sensation.

Briefly, the symphony begins optimistically on a high note on the strings and the winds with astringent, unusual harmonies. What follows is the most important part of the symphony, a steady crescendo of a single theme repeated endlessly from nearly inaudible ppp step by step, layer upon layer. First, strings and flute, adding bassoon, then full woodwinds, the entire string section and finally the brass culminating in a shattering fortissimo (that could blow your speakers!). This is the so-called war theme with the snare drums beating constantly like soldiers marching. (Ironically the theme is partially lifted from Lehar’s Merry Widow). Peace is restored temporarily in the quiet second movement, followed by a beautiful Adagio third that leads into the Finale without interruption. The ending is magnificent with the brass triumphant, no doubt in reference to the Soviet victory at Stalingrad.

This is a highly inspired, exciting and monumental work heard here in a most worthy performance.

12 Eight strings and a whistel…and nothing remains the same…
Eight Strings & a Whistle
Ravello rr8061 (ravellorecords.com/catalog/rr8061)

With the their latest musical salvo, the noted trio Eight Strings and a Whistle has yet again established themselves as one of the most compelling Baroque/classical/Romantic trios on the scene today. Since 1998, this superb, acoustic, international coterie (featuring Suzanne Gilchrest on flute, Ina Litera on viola and Matt Goeke on cello) has collaborated with some of the world’s most significant contemporary chamber music composers and performing artists. Included in this new offering are intriguing, multi-movement works, with contributions from Mark Winges, Paul Théberge, Jorge Amado, Péter Köszeghym, Pamela Sklar and the transplendent John Newell.

First up is Winges’ Loki’s Lair and as the title would suggest, it is a haunting, mystical, mischievous and unpredictable work, to which the spare trio format lends itself magnificently. Litera and Goeke merge into a sinuous dance, punctuated by their dynamic arco and pizzicato skills – almost as if their human bodies had merged with the warm, wooden instruments themselves; and Gilchrest’s stirring flute work is resonant, contextual and a celebration of perfect pitch.  

Théberge’s six-movement Maqām brazenly dips into our ancient engrams, seemingly exploring our proto-human awe, reverence and also fear of the natural world. The trio effortlessly bobs and weaves through complex modalities on this stunning musical odyssey. Sklar’s Two Journeys is an intimate, soul voyage in two movements: Third Eye and The Inward Journey, both of heartrending beauty… manifested by Gilchrest’s rich flute artistry. 

The dissonant and challenging title track was born out of the mind of American contemporary composer Newell, and is a glorious standout on this thought provoking, brilliantly conceived and thrillingly performed recording.

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13 Margeris ZarinsMarģeris Zariņš – Orchestral Works
Ieva Parsă; Aigars Reinis; Kremerata Baltica; Andris Veismanis
LMIC SKANI 128 (skani.lv)

While comprising only a small portion of the European geographical landscape, the Baltic countries have contributed a disproportionately significant number of composers whose works are truly remarkable and impactful. Such is the case with Marģeris Zariņš, the 20th-century Latvian composer and author who wrote a wide range of musical material for an equally diverse range of instruments and ensembles. 

The two largest-scale works on this disc are both organ concertos, composed for organ and chamber orchestra and augmented with two electric guitars, a jazz percussion set and harpsichord. While the use of such instruments might sound eccentric, the results are undeniably spectacular, successfully blending genres and producing an utterly unique sonic effect. 

Both concertos, Concerto Innocente and Concerto Triptichon, cross numerous stylistic boundaries: Innocente begins with a forceful and driving first movement and ends with a playful, carnival-esque finale; Triptichon, although less childlike, is no less energetic, and the first movement’s classical/jazz hybridization is inexplicable through prose – it must be heard to be believed!

While these two concertos form the bulk of this disc’s material, Zariņš’ compositional virtuosity is displayed and reinforced through three additional works: Four Japanese Miniatures, which combine 20th-century Orientalism with atonality to great effect; the Partita in Baroque Style, which is amusingly “Baroque” the same way that Prokofiev’s First Symphony is “Classical”; and Carmina Antica, which takes ancient themes, both musical and topical, and reveals them in a modernized vernacular.

From electric guitars and jazz to atonality, Zariņš wrote it all, and there really is something here for everyone. But even the most ingenious music cannot exist without interpreters, and Zariņš’ works receive expert treatment from the renowned international orchestra Kremerata Baltica, their conductor Andris Veismanis and soloists Ieva Parša and Aigars Reinis.

14 DescendedDescended
Maria Finkelmeier; Jean Laurenz; Greg Jukes; Buzz Kemper
Bright Shiny Things BSTD-0157 (brightshiny.ninja)

A suite of pieces that features blended electronics, vocals, acoustic percussion and trumpet, Descended is a project that warrants close listening. It’s not an easy collection to categorize. 

Jean Laurenz covers trumpet, vocals and percussion; Maria Finkelmeier, the composer, performs percussion and vocals as well. Laurenz is the great niece of Lafcadio Hearn, a 19th-century writer whose work explored Japanese culture, particularly ghost stories and mystical terror. The music is upbeat, yet distinctly scary. There’s a pop aesthetic to the beat-y sections, and the folk idiom I associate with Onibaba, a Japanese horror film. Sometimes cool and occasionally extremely hot, the collection shows a broad swath of influences. 

Much of the disc features percussion, alongside spoken, wailing, or sung vocals (Yoko Ono in the recent Beatles documentary comes to mind more than once). Laurenz’s trumpet playing is melodic and assured, as heard on several tracks: Orbs of Ghostliness (muted, in a beautiful duet with Greg Jukes on accordion), and Mirror in Matsuyama, another duet with Finkelmeier on marimba. Mujina’s Arrival bops along on a drum kit, marimba and various electronic synthesized beats. A female voice (sorceress, hag?) croons and croaks. Deep basso readings by Buzz Kemper on tracks three and six deepify the creepifying.

The title might refer to Laurenz’ relationship (grandniece) to Hearn whose texts show up on three of the tracks. Her own texts are featured in two other tracks, Mujina’s Arrival and the Caribbean-infused Moon Song, whose childlike character (simple strophic sing-song with toy piano) slowly gives way to horror-movie sound effects; macabre, hair-raising stuff.

15 Sean Friar Before and AfterSean Friar – Before and After
NOW Ensemble
New Amsterdam (newamrecords.com)

Maybe all art has ever been able to offer is solace. NOW Ensemble’s newest release, Before and After, is the compositional work of Sean Friar. His big ideas concern the rise and fall of human civilization, the tininess of our individual lives, perhaps the meaninglessness of it all? And yet, here are these beautifully crafted pieces that we can immerse our ears into and forget – or release – our grief.

Tracks one and two run together: Chant establishing a kind of jangling consonance, and Frontier fracturing it before subsiding into unison resignation. Spread repeats a manic cadential figure plucked on electric guitar? or inside the piano?: an ostinato that underlies the spread of melodic efforts to find a home. 

This extemporal description is in keeping with the creative impetus of the work. Developed from improvised fragments, Friar sent his ideas as sketches to the performers in 2017; they each fleshed them out and over the intervening period performed various versions. The process culminated in this recording, made pre-pandemic (lest anyone think Spread is a reference to COVID). 

These first three tracks are followed by five more. Sweetly keening, Cradle links with Artifact in a way reminiscent of the first two tracks, although Artifact is much shorter; in turn it segues directly into the pop-happy Rally. Solo is, oddly a work for several voices, but perhaps it’s about the loneliness of facing certain existential truths. Not to be a downer, but the final haunting track is called Done Deal.

16 Ourself Behind OurselfjpgOurself Behind Ourself, Concealed
Tasha Warren; Dave Eggar
Bright Shiny Things (brightshiny.ninja)

A line from the ever-elliptic Emily Dickinson’s poetry provides the title for this new release of various works commissioned by clarinetist Tasha Warren and composer/cellist Dave Eggar.

It’s hard to give this disc its due, on account of the similarly dark and perhaps overlong nature of the opening selections. 

The producers might’ve done better to reorder the tracks. The latter three are the strongest: not so deadly in earnest, more concise and jaunty. Maybe I’m worn out by the entire “responses to the pandemic” genre I’ve been touting lately, or by moroseness in general. Lalin (Haitian Creole for La Lune) by Nathalie Joachim, opens with a nocturne, then continues into a pointillist dancing depiction of the composer’s Haitian home. Phantasmagoria by Meg Okura (who joins the ensemble on violin) and Snapshots by Pascal Le Boeuf (joining on piano) also get the blood moving through the veins, with some decidedly upbeat character; I detect some Joni Mitchell in Snapshots. The duo benefits greatly by both composers’ energetic performances. 

Paquito D’Rivera’s African Tales opens proceedings. Purporting to move through musical landscapes of that vast continent, Rivera avoids overt references and recognizable styles. A soliloquy for bass clarinet leads to Eggar’s first entry; the two travel in tandem before dividing tasks. I hear influences of Donatoni and Messiaen.

Cornelius Boots’ Crow Cavern, and Black Mountain Calling by Martha Redbone, come next. By turns angry and sombre, and at nine minutes each (similar in length to African Tales), they stretch one’s patience. Interesting pieces, but the D’Rivera is a tough act to follow. 

Close miking provides lots of key noise, reed hiss, bow hair, finger pluck. The two principals seem to focus on extremes of expression, not on getting everything pristine, which is refreshing.

17 IvanovsJānis Ivanovs – Symphonies 15 & 16
Latvian National Symphony Orchestra; Guntis Kuzma
LMIC SKANI 126 (skani.lv)

I’d never heard any of the 21 symphonies by Latvian composer Jānis Ivanovs (1906-1983) before listening to the two on this CD, each lasting about half an hour, both filled with dark sonorities, propulsive energy and clamorous dissonances.

 Violence and disaster dominate Ivanovs’ Symphony No.15 in B-flat Minor (1972), subtitled “Symphonia Ipsa.” In the opening Moderato, quiet, tentative apprehension is suddenly shattered by brutal explosions. Heated struggle ensues in the Molto allegro’s agitated, snarling rhythms and desperate pleading. The grim, mournful Molto andante (Adagio) conjures, for me, a desolate battlefield strewn with bodies; brief, snide, sardonic phrases seemingly comment on the absurd futility of the preceding bloodshed. Nevertheless, martial mayhem returns in the Moderato. Allegro with cacophonous fanfares and pounding percussion before the symphony ends in a slow, ghostly procession.

Restless, fluctuating moods pervade Ivanovs’ Symphony No.16 in E-flat Major (1974), perhaps memorializing the victims of No.15. In the Moderato. Allegro moderato, gloomy, throbbing despair, sinister foreboding and dissonant shrieks are intermittently relieved by unexpected, hymn-like concordances and even touches of Sibelius. The Allegro busily churns with mechanized rhythms leading to the distressed Andante. Pesante. Here, dispirited resignation turns into anger and determined resistance until a gentle bassoon solo intones consolation. The Allegro moderato drives relentlessly to a strident triumphal chorale, ending in a simple major chord, the first happy moment on this CD.

Powerful music powerfully performed by conductor Guntis Kuzma and the Latvian National Symphony Orchestra.

18 Gail KubikGail Kubik – Symphony Concertante
Boston Modern Orchestra Project; Gil Rose
BMOP Sound 1085 (bmop.org)

Three members of the Little Orchestra Society of New York were pestering conductor Thomas Scherman for solo opportunities, so Scherman commissioned Oklahoma-born Gail Kubik (1914-1984) for a work that would “kill three birds with one stone.” Using his trademark mix of Stravinskian neo-classicism, Coplandesque Americana, Hollywood and jazz, Kubik drew from his 1949 score for C-Man, a crime-caper B-movie, for the 1952 Pulitzer Prize-winning Symphony Concertante for Trumpet, Viola, Piano and Orchestra. The brightly orchestrated first movement is filled with fragmented melodies and snappy syncopations. In the middle movement, uncomfortably shifting tonal centres reinforce the viola and muted trumpet’s long-lined desperation over thumping piano chords. A jazzy rondo features the solo instruments taking turns in the spotlight before the work ends with a raucous orchestral blast.

Gerald McBoing Boing (1950), based on Dr. Seuss’ story about a boy who “couldn’t speak but made noises instead,” won the Academy Award for Best Animated Short. Unusually, Kubik composed his 13-minute, percussion-heavy score before the visuals were created to fit the music and narration, here provided by Frank Kelley.

Both Kubik’s five-movement, 15-minute Divertimento No.1 (1959), scored for 13 players, and his six-movement, ten-minute Divertimento No.2 (1958), requiring only eight players, are predominantly perky, with movements including Humoresque, Burlesque, Dance Toccata and Scherzino (Puppet Show). Seascape (in No.1) and Dialogue (in No.2) offer some pleasing breathing space. It’s all persuasively performed by conductor Gil Rose and the Boston Modern Orchestra Project. Entertaining throughout!

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19 Slatkin conducts SlatkinSlatkin conducts Slatkin
Various Artists and Orchestras; Leonard Slatkin
Naxos 8574352 (naxosdirect.com/search/8574352)

“Not many know that I have been active as a composer,” writes Leonard Slatkin, who here conducts three of his orchestral works.

Slatkin’s 13-minute Kinah (2015) pays tribute to his distinguished parents, violinist Felix Slatkin and cellist Eleanor Aller. In 1963, two days after they had rehearsed Brahms’ Double Concerto, Felix suddenly died. Kinah (Hebrew for elegy) features metallic chiming and a noble, long-lined string melody, ending with hushed, haunting, incomplete phrases from Brahms’ concerto. In this recording of its world premiere, Leonard’s brother Fred plays the solo part on their mother’s cello. 

Slatkin says that his 12-minute Endgames (2014) “celebrates the unsung instruments of the orchestra whose players sit at the far ends of the woodwind section.” Scored for piccolo, alto flute, English horn, E-flat clarinet, bass clarinet, contrabassoon and strings, it includes a cheerful, vigorous dance and a sweetly serene middle section, finishing with familiar quotations for each solo instrument, guaranteeing smiles of recognition from the audience. In the 26-minute The Raven (1971), atmospheric, cinematic background music accompanies Alec Baldwin’s recitation of five poems by Edgar Allan Poe.

This CD includes In Fields (2018), a nostalgic four-minute piece by Leonard’s son Daniel (b.1994), archival recordings of Felix playing arrangements of Brahms, Dvořák and Bizet, and a soundtrack excerpt from the 1946 film Deception, in which Aller, who premiered Korngold’s Cello Concerto, plays a bit of Haydn’s Cello Concerto in D Major, with Korngold conducting his newly composed cadenza for it!

20 Matthew SchreibeisMatthew Schreibeis – Sandburg Songs
Tony Arnold; Various Artists
Albany Records TROY1856 (albanyrecords.com)

Hong Kong-based American composer Matthew Schreibeis’ elegantly urbane music seems eminently suited to capturing the pastoral imagery of Carl Sandburg’s poetry, which forms the second half (or so) of the repertoire of this album, Sandburg Songs

Schreibeis’ voice is unique. His songs appear to come from a pen dipped in the ink of Erik Satie and Alfred Schnittke. However, being his authentic self in all of this music, Schreibeis’ notes leap in divergent directions into a mysteriously poignant realm completely of his own creation. He is also stoically authentic to melodic and harmonic flights made in a spectral dimension not unlike Gérard Grisey.

The composer’s sound world seems to unfold in a series of moist landscapes that dissolve one into the other. His conceptions are extraordinarily vivid though, and he can conjure the reality of an extremely complex landscape with relatively spare noted phrases written for the piano or guitar as he does on the piece, Inner Truth and the cycle, They Say

The considerable range of his compositional palette is revealed twice on this recording. The curtain rises on the clarinet-violin duet Noticing and on In Search of Planet X, where a piano makes it a trio. Schreibeis’ power is unveiled on the fully orchestrated Sandburg Songs cycle, replete with piano, strings, reeds, woodwinds and percussion from the Zohn Collective conducted by Timothy Weiss. Carl Sandburg’s breathtaking verse soars in the keening soprano of Tony Arnold.

Listen to 'Matthew Schreibeis – Sandburg Songs' Now in the Listening Room

Editor’s note: Matthew Schreibeis was originally scheduled for a composer residency at the Faculty of Music, University of Toronto in this month but that has been postponed due to the Omicron variant. A new work for violin and vibraphone written for faculty members Mark Fewer and Aiyun Huang is now scheduled to have its premiere at the soundSCAPE Festival in Italy this July (soundscapefestival.org) where Fewer, Huang and Tony Arnold will be among the featured musicians. Schreibeis’ Toronto residency is tentatively planned to take place this fall.

21 AuznieksKrists Auznieks – Coiled Horizon
Auziņš, Čudars, Arutyunyan Trio; JIJI Guitar; Sinfonietta Riga; Normunds Šnē
LMIC SKANI 091 (skani.lv)

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought unrest worldwide, with no country handling it the same. Canada has tended to err on the safer side, while the United States has largely thrown caution to the wind. Right in between these approaches, Europe has found a fascinating middle ground when it comes to maintaining arts and culture during turbulent times. 

The Sinfonietta Riga Chamber Orchestra of Latvia found themselves amidst this turmoil when attempting several times since 2020 to record exciting new guitar music by Krists Auznieks. Once the music was finally able to be performed live in 2021, the results became the album Coiled Horizons. It features two different approaches to the guitar: music for trio, performed by saxophonist Kārlis Auziņš, guitarist Matīss Čudars and the drumming/percussion of Ivars Arutyunyan, followed by an orchestral work that features the aforementioned Sinfonietta Riga Chamber Orchestra and classical virtuoso JIJI playing electric guitar. 

The album begins slow and ambient but draws the listener in immediately with a generous soundscape. Despite sounding like an adventurous jazz trio at first, Auziņš, Čudars and Arutyunyan wait until close to 20 minutes into the disc before providing something close to a “groove.” This makes for a beautiful transition into the album’s more classical sounding second half. 

The orchestral finale to this recording is a specimen to behold, fusing dense 20th-century composition with virtuosic guitar playing. No matter how ambient the first half gets, and however dense the second, this is a treat to listen to as foreground or background music.

22 Florian WittenburgKranenburg Tree
Florian Wittenburg
Edition Wandelweiser Records EWR2104 (florianwittenburg.com)

German composer/musician Florian Wittenburg was musically inspired by a small tree at the former Kranenburg train station. He took a photograph of it and then used it as a template for sketches in the Metasynth software program, with which one can draw/paint music. The four resulting tree/branch drawings are the basis for this four-part ambient electronic music composition. 

Each kranenburg tree part is just over six minutes in length, and includes a calming connective drone sound Wittenburg describes as a “branch.” Part 1 opens with a long held colourful note that resonates throughout the part. A subsequent pulse, build in volume, additional notes and higher pitch is very engaging. More intense drone with pulse in Part 2, which builds with many held notes, until a totally unexpected sudden slide downwards to a single pulsing tone fade. Part 3 is dramatic as higher and lower drone pitches, washes and “crashing” drone cymbal-like sounds add texture until the closing sweeter drone fade. Part 4 opens with another held note from nowhere. Love the very high pitch drone above it and spacious sound effects, which disperse to a single note fade. Each part is separated by a one-minute track of reflective spacious silence. 

I understand Wittenburg’s musical inspiration here – since childhood I have loved sitting under trees and listening to them grow. This release is a great tree-listening addition. At under 30 minutes, it is short in length but multiple listenings will illuminate countless sweet electronic music moments.

23 Jennifer King Mistress MoonO Mistress Moon – Canadian Edition
Jennifer King
Leaf Music LM245 (leaf-music.ca)

The moon is an ever-popular musical inspiration. Canadian pianist Jennifer King chose 12 solo piano works by six Canadian composers for their environmental relationship to the moon, night and outer space in this “Canadian version” sequel to her earlier recording. Each was released as a single to a monthly full-moon cycle related to folk and Mi’kmaq symbolism. Together, King’s self-described “musical meditative journey” takes off! 

Opening track, In the Falling Dark 1 by Derek Charke, sets the musical twilight moon stage with chorale opening, repeated notes, calming sparse parts and improvisations. Kevin Lau’s The Dreamer is an accessible mystical dreamworld soundscape held together by repeated E flat “heartbeat” notes. Sophie Carmen Eckhardt-Gramatté’s Nocturne shows off King’s expertise in playing an expressive Chopin/Schumann influenced work. Sandy Moore’s three Nocturnes combine classical and modern music. Nocturne 3’s lyrical opening makes for relaxing moon watching until lower pitches and fast lines build dramatic tension before returning to a hopeful reflective closing. 

Three Richard Gibson works include Espaces in which I love the outer space tranquility created silences interspersed by few notes, ringing strings and atonal moments. Emily Doolittle’s Gliese 581c looks at a planet from outer space with faster high and contrasting dark sounds. Short, crisp, sudden flash-freeze chords and slower frost forming overlapping patterns in Amy Brandon’s brilliant Frost Moon. Jean Coulthard’s Image Astrale is dramatic out of this world sonic listening featuring contrasting harmonic textures.

King’s sensitive performances make for moving moonlight listening.

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