Anna Clyne’s “This Midnight Hour”: A Cinematic Journey Through the Night

This Midnight Hour, an evocative tone poem by the English composer, Anna Clyne (b. 1980), suggests the shadowy nocturnal world of film noir. Written in 2015, the single movement orchestral work unfolds as a haunting cinematic journey. Growling low strings initiate a spine-chilling “chase” down desolate alleyways. Amid the throb of an elevated heartbeat, we find ourselves alone with shadowy specters of the night. Distant, indistinguishable sounds echo across an alienating landscape. Suddenly and …

Read more

New Release: Michael Torke’s “Time”

In architecture, our perception of space is influenced by repeating elements which provide a sense of structure, form, and scale. A particularly sensuous example can be found in the crisp geometric lines which form the bronze curtain wall of Ludwig Mies van der Rohe’s 1958 Seagram Building in New York. While architecture occupies the spacial realm, music unfolds through time. Time is the title of the newest composition by American composer, Michael Torke (b. 1961). …

Read more

Pavel Karmanov’s “Get In”: A Sunny Post-Minimalist Quintet

Born in Siberia in 1970, the Russian composer, Pavel Karmanov, has been called “a romantic dressed in a minimalist gown.” Perhaps more accurately, Karmanov’s music inhabits the sunny, uninhibited world of post-minimalism. Influenced by the repeating patterns and pulse of the 1970s works of Steve Reich and Philip Glass, this music embraces tonality and the language of contemporary popular music. Karmanov is equally at home as a flutist, pianist, and rock musician. …

Read more

Arvo Pärt’s “Da Pacem Domine”: A Timeless Meditation

Time has a deep meaning, but it is temporary, like our lives. Only eternity is timeless. –Arvo Pärt A sense of mysticism and timelessness pervades the music of the Estonian composer, Arvo Pärt. Emerging from the currents of twentieth century minimalism, it is music which inhabits the quiet, meditative space of Gregorian chant and early polyphony. “The complex and many-faceted only confuses me, and I must search for unity,” said Pärt, who …

Read more

Night Voyages: Salonen’s “Insomnia” and Sibelius’ “Nightride and Sunrise”

Esa-Pekka Salonen’s 2002 orchestral tone poem, Insomnia, takes us on a haunting nocturnal voyage. The opening bars slip into a restless, looping stream of musical “thoughts” which toss and turn with prickly persistence in the woodwinds. As the piece develops, the insomniac’s obsessive mental chatter becomes a colorful tonal dreamscape which is simultaneously beautiful and disturbing. Gradually, restlessness dissolves into the serenity of near sleep in the final minutes, only to be interrupted …

Read more

Samuel Adams’ “Shade Studies”: The Marriage of Acoustic and Electronic Sound

Shade Studies is a brief and meditative work for solo piano and sine wave resonance, written in 2014 by the American composer, Samuel Adams (b. 1985). The piece sets up a haunting dialogue between the world of acoustic sound and ethereal electronic aftertones. In his program notes, the composer writes, Shade Studies examines the counterpoint between the acoustic resonance of the piano and sine waves. The music is quiet and built of cadences, silences, …

Read more

New Release: Michael Torke’s “Being”

Being, the newest album of American composer Michael Torke (b. 1961), is a celebration of pulse and pattern. Written in 2019 and scored for a chamber orchestra of 24 instruments, the work is described in Torke’s program notes simply as “a continuous 43 minute composition, in 9 parts, whose tempo is a consistent 126 beats per minute.” Being plays tricks with our perception of time, centering us in the moment, and delivering an experience akin …

Read more

Send this to a friend