SOUNDS OF AMERICA
Shreyna Patel conducts the Portara Ensemble and ALIAS Chamber Ensemble on a new disc of music by Paul Moravec the volume right is critical to getting the most out of these Mozartian studies. I imagine watching a marimbist doing all of this would be very cool.
Dease also brings magic to Three Moves, which haunts where Fancies startles. Its middle movement, ‘Turn’, begins like a sad Schubert song; the last, ‘Slide’, is rich in gurgling harmonies. ‘This very difficult piece,’ Lansky writes, ‘has become a riteof‑passage for dozens of young marimba players’. Its dedicatee, Nancy Zeltsman, devotes a chapter of her book on four-mallet marimba to this work. Spirals, written in 2013 for Lin Chin Cheng, trips out on chromatic descending harmonies with admirably industrious art but less fantasy. Laurence Vittes
Moravec Amorisms. Sacred Love Songs. Tempest Fantasy Portara Ensemble; ALIAS Chamber Ensemble / Shreyas Patel Delos F DE3470 (62’ • DDD • T)
Paul Moravec won the 2004 Pulitzer Prize in Music for his Tempest Fantasy, which takes up the middle portion of this new recording by the ALIAS Chamber Ensemble and Portara Ensemble, instrumental and choral groups respectively, both resident in Nashville. But it’s clear the American composer hasn’t rested on any laurels since the big honour: the two other pieces here are as enchanting as Moravec’s evocation of his favourite Shakespeare play.
The Bard is also the impetus behind Amorisms (2014), five pieces for chorus, clarinet and string quartet based on Shakespearean aphorisms about love. Moravec composed the work for Nashville Ballet, and its lilting and lyrical music must be ideal for dance. The collection also moves beautifully when standing still, revealing Moravec’s ability to animate the texts through deeply poetic writing and delicate dabs of colour. The Sacred Love Songs (2012) are equally affecting; the five movements include three with texts from the Bible, one set to ‘A Prayer of St Francis’, and an instrumental interlude. Moravec summons characters, speeches and atmospheres from The Tempest in his Pulitzer Prize-winner, which is scored for violin, cello, clarinet and piano. Ariel, Prospero and Caliban are depicted in music of vivid personality. Silken textures abound in Moravec’s glistening sound world.
The capital of Tennessee is known as ‘Music City’ for its central place in country music but this recording exemplifies Nashville’s artistic excellence in the concert realm. The ALIAS and Portara ensembles perform with exceptional attention to phrasing and motion as they send Moravec’s music into radiant orbit. Donald Rosenberg
Polansky Three Pieces for Two Pianosa. Old Paintb. k-toodsc. Dismission (pianotood)d. Dismission (pianotood 2) d d Amy Beal, cTobin Chodos, bRory Cowal, aJoseph Kubera, aMarilyn Nonken, cIttai Rosenbaum pfs New World F NW80777-2 (60’ • DDD)
It may take a while to get used to the pace of the far sonic universe traversed by Larry
Polansky’s impassive 33-minute Three Pieces for Two Pianos, in which, seemingly through the stretching of time, late Beethoven and entirely non-derivative but familial 21st-century vibrations seem destined to creep in. Once there, however, the results are subtly immediate and rewarding, if slowmoving and introspectively dimensional.
GRAMOPHONE MAY 2016 III