This CD of music by Gabriela Lena Frank (b. 1972), titled Compadrazgo, is the type I like to call “out there.” It’s composed, one imagines, on the precipice of the composer’s mind and creative faculties, reaching both inward and outward towards models and inspirations that seem to gestate inside and come out in an almost spontaneous burst of creativity. ...There is no question that the music on Compadrazgo is strange and challenging to Western, non-South American ears, but if you are open to new experiences I think you’ll find it opens new doors to your mind.
In 2003, six former students from the Conservatoire National Supérieur de Musique in Paris founded the ‘Capriccioso’ Ensemble. The group varies in number according to the repertory, but is generally based on the work of six instrumentalists, including violin, viola, cello, clarinet, horn and piano, who recently performed Krzysztof Penderecki’s Sextet.
Nine artists, Persian and French, singers and instrumentalists, are combining their own musical tradition to reinterpret traditional Kurdish, Persian and European repertoire. Medieval pieces, Gregorian plain song and Spanish cantigas from a repertoire situated between 9th and 15th centuries are dialoguing and are mixed with Persian and Kurdish folk and traditional melodies. The results are an astounding mix of world and ancient music.
Anima mea explores the Christian concept of the soul through these masterpieces of medieval Sacred Music. Hildegard of Bingen’s beautifully exalted harmonies represent God’s order in the music of the spheres. The recently rediscovered Erfurt Ritual contains sung music from Master Eckhart’s historical context. These antiphons are performed here for the first time since 1525, along with chants from the liturgy of the Roman mass, music from the Notre Dame School, and a glorious Magnificat. The German duo Ensemble Cosmedin, who take their name from a church in Rome, are considered one of the leading ensembles for medieval and modern sacred music. Music of the soul—gentle and luminous.
If your Latin jazz collection centers mainly around styles from Cuba and Brazil, pianist Edward Simon would like you to consider expanding your library to include musical influences from a culturally diverse land geographically situated between those two countries – namely Venezuela, where he was born and lived until the age of 12. Simon is an acclaimed post-bop and modern creative jazz pianist in his adopted country of the United States, and while Latin American elements have certainly seasoned his recorded output to date, this 2014 Sunnyside release finds him focusing more intently than ever on the nexus between creative jazz and the folk music of his home country. The album's title is derived from "Venezuelan Suite," whose four parts fill over 28 minutes of the disc's concise 38-minute duration. Simon composed the suite for his Ensemble Venezuela, and the ten-member version of the group heard here – including musicians from the U.S., Venezuela, and Colombia – is wonderfully vibrant, ably fulfilling the pianist's creative intent. Chamber Music America commissioned Simon to write this work, and he rose to the challenge with music that is suitably rich with timbral and textural variety.