Listening Room

10 Apollo ChamberWith Malice Toward None
Apollo Chamber Players
Azica ACD-71340 (apollochamberplayers.org/media)

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1. With Malice Toward None by J. Kimo Williams - Apollo Chamber Players and Tracy Silverman (electric violin)

2. Joni from The Unraveling by Pamela Z - Apollo Chamber Players and Pamela Z (voice and electronics)

3. Echmiadzin Dance from Themes of Armenian Folksongs by Komitas (Arr. Matthew J. Detrick/Apollo Chamber Players) Apollo Chamber Players with Joan DerHovsepian, guest viola

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The Apollo Chamber Players have embraced a mission toward the championing of globally inspired programming and commissioning. The new works on their latest release, With Malice Toward None, are part of a larger commissioning project titled 20x2020 – an effort to support the creation of 20 new works from multicultural composers by the end of 2020. 

The ensemble’s passion for new music and impressive virtuosity is on full display on this new disc as the listener is treated to an inspired assemblage of repertoire. The title track (referencing a phrase uttered by Abraham Lincoln) – for electric violin and string quartet – composed by J. Kimo Williams features Tracy Silverman on electric violin. This work speaks to certain contemporary socio-political issues and the electric violin soaring over the string quartet creates a dramatic and compelling atmosphere. Some clever Hendrix quotes emerge as an unexpected contrast. 

Pamela Z’s The Unraveling is a brilliant reworking of American folk songs from the 1960s and 70s. This work, in four movements, shows Pamela Z’s unparalleled talent to create highly original sound worlds using sampling, looping and fragmentation of the familiar. Themes of Armenian Folksongs, originally composed by the Armenian composer known as Komitas and later arranged by members of Apollo and the Komitas Quartet, originates from ten Armenian folk songs that were collected by Komitas. This bright and eupeptic music reveals the world-class musicianship of the quartet players. Lastly, Eve Beglarian’s We Will Sing One Song is a wonderfully ethereal and expressive work that paints at once a disturbing and welcoming landscape with the duduk instrument providing a subdued allure – the perfect bookend to this superbly recorded release.

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