I’ve always found it remarkable that Sean Hickey, who is also the national sales and business development manager for Naxos of America, has had time to create any music of his own. But what is perhaps even more extraordinary is that despite his seemingly never-ending immersion into so many other people’s music, he has found his own distinctive compositional voice.
This collection of Bermel’s music provides a helpful point of entry for those curious to know just what has made this composer so consistently stand out: his music’s fusion of quasi-minimalist beat-based sensibilities with a dizzying diversity of popular and/or indigenous sound sources from across the globe.
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.