With the first languid lines of “The Sea,” My Brightest Diamond seduces those listening to Letters to Distant Cities (New Amsterdam) into a waking dream.
Far from the generic of solo guitar playing that crowds the sound systems of tapas restaurants and Pier 1 Imports retailers, Gyan Riley’s Stream of Gratitude is a collection of four pieces that show him to be a skilled performer of music that is both deeply personal and profoundly inspired.
In many cases, the aural images John Luther Adams creates can be directly traced to the powerful natural world that surrounds him in his home state of Alaska, a landscape that has undeniably left its imprint on his work. More broadly, however, Adams uses composition as a way to explore and understand the world around him, regardless of borders real and imagined.
How I discovered the music of Kenneth Kirschner when I wasn’t looking for it.
Composer/bassist/singer Esperanza Spalding named the year’s Best New Artist; Michael Daugherty’s Metropolis Symphony (Naxos) brings him Best Orchestral Performance and Best Classical Contemporary Composition recognition.
As a co-founder of the New Amsterdam record label and the NOW Ensemble, composer Judd Greenstein thinks deeply about the changes he wants to see in the field and dedicates his time and talents to putting them into action. He is by turns idealistic and pragmatic, motivated by a desire to challenge artists and audiences, but also to keep pace with economic and social developments. “The world that we as composers and performers were operating in expanded exponentially,” Greenstein explains. “Now the conversation is with everyone.”
At a trim 33 minutes, the album version of Richard Einhorn’s The Origin (an evening-length multi-media piece built up around the life and work of Charles Darwin) focuses on just six excerpts scored for vocal soloists, drawn from the full production which also includes chorus, orchestra, and projected film.
Amplifications is a snow storm of a record, a beautiful heap of sound with some sharp icicle edges buried inside, a 35-minute shower of glistening sonic elements that transfix the ear with their beauty and only reveal their true weight once the storm is over.