In the May 2019 WholeNote, I reviewed a CD of music by five composers, praising Rain Worthington’s ten-minute In Passages for violin and string orchestra as “a sustained, moody beauty, imbued with Middle Eastern melodic melismas and glissandi.” That recording reappears here along with seven other works, lasting four to 12 minutes, by the New York-based Worthington (b.1949). Composed between 2011 and 2020, mixing “antique” and world-music modes, late-Romanticism and minimalism, they provide lots more “moody beauty.”
Three pieces feature the cello: Resolves for solo cello (expressing, writes Worthington, “a sense of acceptance and inner strength”), Full Circle for cello and small orchestra (“the cycles of emotion that emerge and recede throughout life”) and the ominously perturbed Shadows of the Wind for small orchestra (“an approaching storm…shifting shadow patterns…”). More “shadows”: Balancing on the Edge of Shadows for violin and piano evokes plaintive Judaic or Islamic chants (“quite beautiful, mysterious, with delicate subtlety”).
Intense yearning fills Night Stream for two violins (“reflecting on the flow of life and time, imagined impressionistically as lights streaming across a rain-streaked window”). Brooding, pulsating melodies pervade two works composed during the pandemic: Within Deep Currents for string orchestra and Dreaming Through Fog for small orchestra (“a continuous undercurrent of tragedy and uncertainty, mixed with cycles of waiting and moments of hope”).
Worthington is a rare contemporary composer who unabashedly calls her own music “quite beautiful,” but she’s absolutely justified in doing so!