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Classical Music Review

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Of Time & Place
Chamber Works


Composer: Monica Houghton
Label: Navona Records
RRP: £13.99
Release Date: 08 June 2018

Composer Monica Houghton releases Of Time & Place, a collection of her chamber works, through Navona Records...

When listing to this collection it may evoke images of different regions of the globe. That's not entirely coincidental. As a keen traveller, Houghton has managed to incorporate non-Western instruments and musical practices into several of her compositions as well drawing on inspiration while trekking through Peru, as well as exploring the remote and desolate areas of the American West. Here, she incorporates these influences to deliver eight performances.

'Andean Suite', a four-movement piece, takes its inspiration from the composer’s journey on foot through the mountains of Peru.

'The Twelve Causes from the Circle of Becoming' reflects the essence of Tibetan Buddhist Wheel of Life paintings; The three movements of 'Wilderness Portraits: Three Places in Nevada', captures Houghton’s awe at the beauty of the natural world.

Meanwhile, 'Three Songs without Words', 'Stay Shadow' and 'Corpo Sonoro', were inspired by poets including New Spain’s Sor Juana Inez de la Cruz, who worked in the mid-17th century, the Tang Dynasty poet Tu Fu and Brazilian poet Maria Davico.

This is a modern Classical album that does offer some beautiful moments that will lift your spirits and stir your soul. However, there are a few too many improvisational sounding moments which won't appeal to those who like their Classical fix to be structured full of emotionally charged melodies.

Personally it's not an album I'll probably return to, but then I'm extremely old fashioned in my music tastes.

Track listing:

Andean Suite (2014)
Dmitri Atapine (cello)
Hyeyeon Park (piano)
01  I. With the Condors
02  II. Lacuna
03 III. White Horse
04  IV. Dance

05  The Twelve Causes
from the Circle of Becoming (2013)
James Winn (piano)

Wilderness Portraits:
Three Places in Nevada (2012)
Argenta Trio
Stephanie Sant Ambrogio (violin)
Dmitri Atapine (cello)
James Winn (piano)
06 I. Jarbidge
07  II. Mount Charleston
08  III. High Rock Canyon

09  Stay, Shadow (2012)
Sandra Simon (soprano)
Mary Kay Robinson (flute)
Lynne Ramsey (viola)
Alijca Basinska (piano)

Three Songs
Without Words (2010)
Mary Kay Robinson (flute)
Don Better (guitar)
10  I. New Moon
11  II. Spring Rain
12 III. Snow Storm

13  Epigram (2008)
Cleveland Chamber Collective
Takako Masame (violin)
Sae Shiragami (violin)
Lisa Boyko (viola)
Linda Atherton (cello)

Corpo Sonoro (2007)
Halida Dinova (piano)
14 I. A Rosa Mal-temperada
15 II. A Poesia
16 III. Quase um Soneto
17 IV. Dodecafonicamente

18 Sky Signs (2005)
Cleveland Duo & James Umble


Darren Rea

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