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Classical Music Review

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Spoon Hanging From My Nose
The Music of J.A. Kawarsky


Composer: J.A. Kawarsky
Label: Navona Records
RRP: £13.99
Release Date: 09 November 2018

Spoon Hanging From My Nose is the debut album from composer J.A. Kawarsky, released through Navona Records. With works for orchestra, some composed by Kawarsky and others originally by Brahms but arranged and reimagined by Kawarsky, the album as a whole is a triumphant entrance into the full album release for the composer...

There's something about J.A. Kawarsky's compositions that lodge themselves in your mind. On the first play through, when listening to the opening track 'Fastidious Notes' I immediately recognised it. However, as I constantly have over a dozen album's at any one time that I'm in the process of reviewing (I like to listen to each album several times, put them aside for a few days and play them several more times before even contemplating writing a review) my first thought was that it was one of the album's I'd already listened to before. It was only digging a little deeper that I discovered that I'd reviewed it as part of the Prisma: Contemporary Works for Orchestra compilation release from earlier this year (2018).

This piece is followed by a series of reinterpretations of Brahms’ 'Liebeslieder Waltzes', originally composed for vocal quartet and piano 4 hands. Kawarsky sets these 18 waltzes to a new accompaniment and orchestration, using 10 instruments, reimagining the performances with a sound that is fresh and full.

'And We All Waited…' takes the tone of the album in a different direction. After the tragedies of numerous shootings in the United States and far too many lives lost, the composition asks, when is enough enough? Even without knowing the original inspiration there's a feeling of gravitas that permeates the piece and it winds up being the soul of the album.

The album concludes with 'Episodes', written for piano and orchestra. Drawing from sources from Prokofiev to traditional Jewish melodies used at Yom Kippur, the piece was composed in celebration of the 75th anniversary of the Westminster Choir College of Rider University.

The album contains 21 tracks (1 hr, 11 min, 29 sec) and as showpiece of the composer's work they don't come much more polished than this. It's an incredible collection of varied pieces - each of which grows and matures the more time you invest in them.

If you want to hear a little more of this composer's work, Ansonica Records included 'Sacred Rights, Sacred Song', a multi-movement piece on their Coro Del Mundo release (2018).


Darren Rea

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