Sprung Rhythm, Inscape Chamber Orchestra, R. Scerbo
(released on July 30, 2013)
Sono Luminus DSL-92170 | 82'36"
All of the music recorded here is for acoustic instruments -- no computers, no electronic processing -- and it is music that is long on harmonic and melodic interest and blessedly short on intellectual or mathematical gimmicks, without sounding overly neo-Romantic or derivative. The most beautiful examples are pieces by Philadelphia-based composer Joseph Hallman, beginning with Three Poems of Jessica Hornik, sentiment-laden songs written for the pretty, intonation-sure voice of soprano Abigail Lennox, who sings them here. Showing off Hallman's sure handling of instruments even more are the Imagined Landscapes, miniatures based on the nightmarish dreamscapes of H. P. Lovecraft that exploit all sorts of unexpected sounds. Two pieces by Washington-based composer Nathan Lincoln-DeCusatis also reward repeated listening: the rhythmic chaos but still cogent structure of A Collection of Sand and the dissection and deconstruction of a short passage from a Chopin ballade in Chopin Syndrome. Justin Boyer's Con Slancio is in a style that often sounds like a mix of minimalism, blues, and American folk (dangerously close to Mark O'Connor at times), a sort of hoedown for bass clarinet and string quartet.
The program is augmented by three bonus tracks, another piece by Justin Boyer, called Auguries, a whimsical dramatization of a story from Cicero about a man using bird divination to track down his missing pig. The superstitious bumpkin's adventures are depicted in a series of charming bassoon solos, played with buffoonish grace by Benjamin Greanya. Oddly, the extra nine minutes of music are available only on a companion Blu-Ray disc, which contains only sound (no video) and plays on neither standard CD players nor computer drives.