Spectra Volume 2 (CD)
SPECTRA VOLUME 2
A Concert of Music by Members of.
Connecticut Composers, Inc.
Elizabeth R. Austin
John Alan Rose
SPECTRA 2 unveils the works of six composers, each of whom tells a unique, memorable story.
First up is Elizabeth R. Austin's B-A-C-HOMAGE, an intricately constructed tribute to the German Baroque composer. Based on Bach's name and his "Air on G" respectively, the first and second movement reflect upon the clarity of his work through the lens of Austin's decidedly modern tonal language.
John Alan Rose's Sleepy Hollow Suite for piano mesmerizes with a timeless appeal that bridges centuries: aesthetically gratifying and inventive all at once, Washington Irving could fittingly have imagined this as a soundtrack for his eponymous story. Rose empathetically retells this masterpiece of American literature with natural skill in a three-movement suite of tremendous re-listening potential.
Bells and Grass, composed by Juliana Hall, brings five poems by Walter de la Mare to life with only a soprano and an oboe. A courageously tender expansion of lied composition, the oboe does not just restrict itself to playing an accompaniment, but instead enters into a dialogue with the soprano like an intuitive, benevolent Socratic spirit.
A related theme could be discerned in Ryan Jesperson's Icarus, a riveting duo for alto saxophone and piano. Like the eponymous mythological character, it starts out soaring, but undergoes a considerable transformation, culminating in a spectacular fashion.
There is nothing random about Frank Vasi's saxophone quartet Random Thoughts: the four-movement work is so refreshingly tonal, as well as rhythmically and harmonically engaging, that it wouldn't be out of place in an upscale jazz venue. A stunning example of inspirations and musical craftsmanship, Vasi effortlessly toys with compositional difficulties throughout, such as the conflict between two contrasting time signatures in The Argument. The quirky Picasso's Rag sounds exactly how one would imagine it according to the title – only better.
Nancy Tucker brings the album to a close with two of her playful, upbeat compositions. Escape of the Slinkys imagines the life of named perennial childhood toy with bewildering depth of imagination. Grasshopper's Holiday, an unapologetically catchy guitar piece, evokes images of road trips and carefree summers with such cheerful drive that one might find it difficult to stop listening to it on repeat.
With its variegated selection, SPECTRA 2 packs a veritable punch in just about one hour of music – music composed in Connecticut, but with an artistic appeal that easily transcends the borders of the Constitution State.