A weekly rundown of the music our staff and listeners are loving lately! Are you interested in contributing some thoughts on your favorite new music albums? Drop us a line!
Joshua Roman on Golijov’s Ayre:
This is an amazing piece that I first stumbled upon several years ago and basically put on repeat. It’s a unique set-up where you have things like a hyper-accordion, which is an invention by the player himself, Michael Ward-Bergeman. He basically takes two inputs and puts them on either side of the accordion and creates this stereo effect with a machine that mixes them together to create the “hyper effect.” It’s kind of like an accordion on steroids and produces a lot of intense sounds. Golijov uses this to great effect to take you through different modes of musical communication. It’s not stuck in style; it really goes all over the place, but all fits together very well and flows very naturally. There are moments that are very touching and movements where you’ll think, “What the hell is going on?” but in a really great way. It’s extremely exciting! Dawn Upshaw gives an incredible performance and allows herself to go to places that are just primal in nature.
Jill Kimball on David Leisner’s Facts of Life
Addiction. Heartbreak. Disappointment. We’d like to brush all these things under a rug, but sometimes they’re the facts of life. Composer David del Tredici chose to place his negative life experiences at the forefront of his four-movement solo guitar work, “Facts of Life.” It’s just one of three pieces on an album featuring the virtuosic guitarist David Leisner. The piece transitions effortlessly from tango to fugue to some fantastically frenetic strumming. Another beautifully chaotic piece on the album is Osvaldo Golijov’s “Fish Tale,” a chamber piece about a sea creature who takes a trippy, Alice in Wonderland-like journey through the water.
Geoffrey Larson on Ravi Shankar’s Symphony
This piece is something totally different: an orchestral work that is part symphony, part sitar concerto. Both a sitar master and long-time classical composer and collaborator, the late Ravi Shankar fashioned a four-movement work that brings Hindustani music to the Western orchestral ensemble. Pounding raga-like rhythms and dance figures can be found throughout, augmented by actual vocalizations by the LPO players in the final movement. The composer’s daughter, sitar virtuoso Anoushka Shankar shines in this live performance recording. Common practice period not spicy enough? These unique symphonic flavors might do the trick.