Aside from its inherent interest due to the broad range of music that composer Heather Schmidt has fashioned out of one of the more traditional chamber music duo configurations, a new Centrediscs recording of her music for cello and piano duo is a wonderful documentation of an ongoing collaboration between an interpreter (cellist Shauna Rolston) and a composer who is also featured herein as the pianist.
Shelter, composed by Bang on a Can founders Michael Gordon, David Lang, and Julia Wolfe, is a seven-movement evening-length oratorio sung for this recording with crystalline precision by vocalists Martha Cluver, Mellissa Hughes, and Caroline Shaw (yes, that Caroline Shaw) alongside Ensemble Signal (Brad Lubman, conductor).
The collaborative album Night, which pairs classical pianist Simone Dinnerstein with rootsy singer-songwriter Tift Merritt, is a smorgasbord of songs cherry-picked from various corners of history and culture. It is an interesting and revealing sonic journal of a musical partnership in which both artists embrace elements of risk and experimentation.
It’s remarkable how often people’s opinions of Jennifer Higdon’s music seem—for better or for worse—to be formed based on her fantastically successful orchestral works. A new release showcases a more intimate collection of chamber works that are unmistakably Higdon but which explore different reaches of her musical interests.
Presented in chronological order and spanning a period from 1963 to 2007, the works included on From Moog to Mac demonstrate the process of experimentation and development that Herbert Deutsch went through as he created work for Bob Moog’s iconic synthesizers and then on into computer generated sound.
Throughout his latest CD, Romance, Buenos Aires-born and Brooklyn-based Fernando Otero ratchets up the contemporary classical music allusions that were already in evidence on his post-Tango Nuevo 2008 Nonesuch album Pagina de Buenos Aires. But on the new disc, he also explores and combines many other musical idioms ranging from jazz to musical theatre and beyond.
Would I have been able to smell the sea salt in the air quite so powerfully while listening to a recording of Mary Ellen Childs’s Wreck if I hadn’t already seen the image of a man face down in the water that graces its cover? Possibly not, but knowing that at the outset, I swear I could feel the waves crashing against the boat and a brisk ocean breeze hitting my face.