Sounds Heard: The Quiet Ones

Considering the volume of pitches and announcements from various and sundry PR organizations I receive every week, I can’t help but wonder about all of the things happening in our musical world that are less aggressively placed in my path. The noise level out there is such that interesting-yet-below-the-surface things can be missed, and I just hate missing interesting things.

With that in mind, I have picked three recordings that have been sitting patiently and quietly in the pile on my desk without flash or fanfare, waiting to be listened to. Two of the discs are from just down the road in Washington, D.C., while another comes from San Francisco, and the music they contain couldn’t be more diverse.

D.C.-based composer/pianist Jessica Krash’s album features six compositions for solo piano as well as duos, and chamber ensemble combinations with piano. The track presented below is a solo piano work, Dangerous Curves performed by the composer herself. The piece is an exploration of “…banned and provocative music from many genres, places, and times in history.” Indeed, it is a delightfully quirky kettle full of musical worlds jostling against one another, performed with skill and plenty of zest. It’s also a good introduction to Krash’s music, which is often eclectic and animated, with a sly sense of humor.

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You might know Mark Winges primarily as a composer of choral music, so perhaps it makes sense that his latest disc, entitled Night Voiced, contains new music for viola, the range of which mimics that of the human voice. The CD’s title track is scored for the eyebrow-raising combination of viola and organ, though the two instruments maintain a very conversational quality (to my ears, anyway) throughout the piece. A version of this same work for viola and piano also closes the disc, but I couldn’t resist posting the organ version (speaking of underdogs!). The other works on the disc include Reciprocal Tapestries for viola, cello and piano; Diverted Vignettes for solo viola; and San Francisco Stopover for viola cello and guitar, performed by The Left Coast Ensemble.

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QUIRK is an album of new music for clarinet and electronics performed by clarinetist Mauricio Salguero. The composers represented include Christopher Biggs, Jason Bolte, Andrew Cole, Eric Honour, Sarah Horick, Jorge Sosa, and Asha Srinivasan. The album title speaks to the broad range of musical sensibilities and influences heard within the pieces, from the skittering, glitchy soundscape of Christopher Biggs’s Ten To The Power Of Negative 33 to the more melodic, slightly pop-tinged aura of Sara Horick’s Looking-Glass Changes. Quirk by Eric Honour (who also engineered, mixed, and mastered the album) begins with a dash of techno-oriented flare that is quickly pulled in different directions which allow the bass clarinet to let loose and sing before being snapped back to its beat-oriented soundscape—a sort of theme and variations that characterizes the shape of the composition.

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