Austin, Texas-based composer Graham Reynolds’s The Difference Engine: A Triple Concerto does not waste notes getting your attention and it keeps a firm hold on it. His language is evocative and direct: It is as if Reynolds is delivering to your ear a mysterious and ambiguous tale in sound—wildly open to interpretation, of course, but it’s a page-turner nonetheless.
Sometimes “soundtrack” CDs can invite a degree of skepticism, in that often the music composed for film or video does not stand alone as effectively as when paired with its accompanying medium. However, the second release from Austin, Texas-based composer and sound artist Mike Vernusky is an example of such a format that does not suffer from being presented as audio alone. This is a collection of music composed both for film and “electro-theatre,” defined as music for live actors with electronic sound, which creates a vivid radio play-like journey through sculptural forests of sound.
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.
Spanning five decades and scales ranging from familiar 12-tone equal temperament to an extended just intonation pitch continuum that has more than 1200 discreet pitches per octave, the ten Ben Johnston string quartets are one of the pinnacles of the American chamber music canon, but few have attempted to explore them; so the Kepler Quartet’s second installment on New World Records is cause for ecstatic celebration.