sails set for senex

I’m one of these folks for whom ambient music is a terrific foreground experience: Brian Eno, early Aphex Twin, bring it on. I hear in this music what in fact is an extremely fluid relationship with the intentionally foreground minimalist music I enjoy listening to more than most things. So it’s always nice when the […]

Sing to the Sun

Ashley Bryan, narrator; Ted Gurch, clarinet; Barbara Cook, oboe; Amy Leventhal, viola; Laura Gordy, piano; Peggy Benkeser, percussion; Spivey Hall Children’s Choir Much of this piece—a setting of five poems by Ashley Bryan—is filled with lovely images and softly entwining solo instruments (oboe, clarinet, and viola). But the third poem, titled “The Hurricane,” introduces startling […]

Papa George

Nothing says fornication-time like a Hammond B-3. Sure, Barry White’s voice might do the trick for some, but organs are just plain sleazier. So whenever the mood strikes, be sure to put on the Nick Moran Trio’s latest, The Messenger, in the background. The disc starts with a lively tune called “Papa George.” Here the […]

Elliott Miles McKinley’s String Quartet No. 5

Performed by the Martinu Quartet There’s a real smorgasboard of musical styles in the string quartets of Elliott Miles McKinley, which is as fitting for someone who studied with William Bolcom as it is for the son of William Thomas McKinley who, according to the booklet notes accompanying this CD, was named after Elliott Carter […]

In C

Ars Nova Copenhagen and Percurama Percussion Ensemble Because of its roots in improvisation and aleatory performance techniques, Riley’s iconic work In C has always had, at its heart, a sense of ebb and flow—one that overrides the more mechanistic tendencies that would later become a stereotype of minimalism. This recording, conceived by Ars Nova director […]

Leo Ornstein: Sonata No. 1 for cello and piano

Joshua Gordon, cello; Randall Hodgkinson, piano Those wonderful tone clusters that Henry Cowell allegedly invented actually surfaced in the lush hyper-Romantic solo piano music of Leo Ornstein several years earlier. They are one of the delights of Ornstein’s early chamber music as well, including the first of his two cello sonatas from 1915 featured on […]

David Yeagley: Wessi vah-peh

James J. Pellerite, Native American flute; Moravian Philharmonic conducted by Lawrence Golan The traditional Native American flute is an extremely expressive instrument, but it is almost invariably played unaccompanied. So it’s great to hear Comanche composer David Yeagley’s single movement concerto, Wessi vah-peh, and the other concertante works featuring Native American flute with a symphony […]

Unanswered Questions

Erin Lesser, flute Need another 4 minutes and 33 seconds to round out your solo flute recital? I’ve got a little suggestion: Tristan Murail (who did you think?). On this new recording by the Argento Chamber Ensemble, the composer’s moody flute solo, Unanswered Questions, clocks in at a purely coincidental 4:33. But the similarity to […]

Spongy Bark

Dutz is a percussionist, specializing in mallet and hand-played percussion, so it’s especially interesting to hear his treatment of woodwinds and strings on this album. On “Spongy Bark,” the pizzicato he introduces in the cello carries over to staccato in the oboe and clarinet, and you can faintly hear clacking keys as the woodwinds run […]

A Change for the Better

Greg Gisbert and Ron Miles, trumpet and flugelhorn; John Gunther, alto sax, soprano sax, flute, didgeridoo; Peter Sommer, tenor sax, soprano sax, flute, clarinet; Gary Smulyan, baritone sax and bass clarinet; Alex Heitlinger, trombone; Mike Abbott, guitar; Jeff Jenkins, piano; Mark Simon, bass; Paul Romaine, drums; Manavihare “Mimy” Fiaindratovo, percussion Once the warble of the […]

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