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!
“On and On and”- and what? Well that’s the whole point, there is no “what.” This piece is based on the writings of John Muir, in particular his description of the cycle of nature going “on and on.” The rising and falling patterns of this piece, at times reaching great heights of range and dynamics and suddenly falling, only to build back up again, is indicative of a simple concept seen everywhere in nature, and indeed in all realms of the arts – the buildup and release of energy, and energy can never be created or destroyed, only transformed. – by David Wall
Lisa Bielawa’s album “The Lay of the Love” speaks to the amazing ways humans find hope and comfort in dark times. She was inspired to learn that thousands of World War I soldiers carried Rilke’s work, The Lay of the Love and Death, with them in their coat pockets. She wrote a moving piece for baritone, piano, and violin set to its text. The next piece, “Wait,” was inspired by just one passage in Eugene Onegin that holds out hope for an escape from exile. In the album’s closing piece, “Hurry,” a soprano narrator digs deep to find a creative muse during a bleak period in her life, and a chamber ensemble cries out alongside her. There’s an inspirational message here for anyone who needs a pick-me-up. – by Jill Kimball
The John Adams Chamber Symphony is one of my favorite works of music and is a mind-bending, exhilarating, fiendishly difficult piece to perform – every time I hear of a new recording I have a fangirl-level freakout. But the insanity of the Chamber Symphony is just the beginning of this musical thrill-ride from the Aurora Orchestra; we also get a touch of Charles Ives, Copland’s original chamber version of Appalachian Spring, and a Nico Muhly arrangement of Paul Simon, all presented in story-board fashion prefaced by a spoken-word and mandolin piece by Max Baillie. This tour-de-force of Americana doesn’t just show the range of different styles between the different composers, it exposes surprising similarities. – by Geoffrey Larson