If ever there were a recording that should be played in small doses, it's this one! Alan Hovhaness' serene, metaphysical, meditative music can send you into a near trance-state or, depending on the work, into a rage. Working with the principles of oriental art and mysticism, Hovhaness creates musical cells of exquisite beauty and then, coming from that same paradigm, repeats them seemingly endlessly.
Margot Reisinger has composed, performed and produced contemporary World Music based on a great diversity of cultures. In her unique style she brings together artists from a wide range of ethnic musical traditions with contemporary Western musicians to create a cultural understanding in the universal language of music…
The music of William Byrd has been something of an obsession for the members of Phantasm, featuring on their early recordings Still Music of the Spheres (1996) and Byrd Song (1998), as well as their 2004 collection The Four Temperaments. Here they return again to the Elizabethan composer with the benefit of nearly two decades’ performing experience, to gather together his complete output for viol consort, bar the fragmentary or spurious works. Spanning some 40 years of Byrd’s life, this is a condense but subtly varied album of styles: courtly dances interleave with cryptic spiritual and devotional works – fleeting expressions of the recusant Catholic’s unwavering faith – and variations on popular Tudor songs, like the magnificent tour de force, Browning. Among the finest works are the Fantasias, which range from lush-textured six-part tapestries to the laconic three-part pieces, haiku-like in their poetic expressivity. Throughout them Byrd retains the ‘Angelicall and Divine’ qualities that his contemporaries remarked upon – qualities that Phantasm captures perfectly in this collection.
David Starobin continues his award-winning New Music with Guitar series after a six year hiatus. Volume 8 includes two solo works and two chamber pieces in their premiere recordings. Starobin's own composition, Variations on a Theme by Carl Nielsen, takes Nielsen's “Song Behind the Plow”, first published in 1899, and subjects it to 12 variations. Paul Lansky's Partita for guitar and percussion is in four beautifully wrought and intricate movements. Six Pages by the Danish composer Poul Ruders, presents miniatures that range from light and comic to sustained and meditative. George Crumb's Ghosts of the Alhambra is a song cycle based on poems of Lorca, and features the distinguished American baritone, Patrick Mason.