Divan Consort's debut CD, "Refuge" won the Gold Medal from Global Music Awards!
Also our composer-in-residence Ken Walicki won Silver Medal for his piece, "Refuge".
Our CD was featured in Fanfare Magazine's July/August 2014 issue.
This is a most enjoyable and stimulating disc. Turkish composer Özkan Manav (b. 1967) studied with the well-known (although not well known enough) Turkish composer Saygun. His piece Laçin is based on an anonymous folk song, and is an attractive exploration of some of the theme’s potentialities. Chen Yi’s Chinese Ancient Dances focuses on the sound of a solo clarinet (impeccably played here by Virginia Figueiredo). Its journey to whirling dance in the first piece, “Ox-Tail Dance,” is a fascinating one, not at all hesitant but not to be rushed, either. The second dance, “Hu Xuan Dance,” is much more active. This is a superb performance that seems to relish the composer’s almost-deconstruction of the dance basis of this music.
Del Aguila’s Seducción (2007) for flute, clarinet, and piano begins gently, almost as if to invoke late-night jazz (including some lovely bent notes). There is a distinct Latin American influence here, and some beautifully imagined moments: the gorgeous descending cascades on piano to end the slow section, for example.
Ken Walicki studied with both Stockhausen and Lachenmann. His 2012 piece Refuge was composed for the present ensemble, and is based on spectral principles. It includes a part for computer (which alters the sounds) and video (obviously not included here). The idea of refuge is here aligned with Buddhist ideas. It is a fascinating piece, its manipulations of tone and harmonic inflections steering it away from comfortable light music (as the bare harmonies might imply) towards something much deeper. A percussive, rhythmic passage towards the end of the piece adds another layer of interest.
William Kraft’s Encounters III brought forth a lukewarm review from Mike Silverton back in Fanfare 13:4. Here we have Encounters XVII , for clarinet and percussion, a single-movement, eight-section, expertly constricted miniature that explores a world of beautiful sounds while simultaneously demonstrating a composer who works with a perfectly consistent language. The work is at once an aural delight and a listening challenge in terms of its internal complexity.
The Khachaturian was a welcome surprise. It is a student work, scored for clarinet, violin, and piano. Lushly Romantic in some ways, there is a distinctly Armenian tinge to the melodies. This is a tremendous performance; a pity that the closeness of the recording perhaps contradicts the inherent intimacy of the music itself. Somehow the closeness also made some of the slower passages sound a little like sleazy jazz. Yet the manipulations of musical material in the finale remain fascinating. This is far from the only recording of the Khachaturian, but it is the only one held within such intriguing and enlightened programming. Colin Clarke © Fanfare Magazine
"Refuge" is available on Albany Records, Amazon, iTunes and ArkivMusic.
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