Aureole etc.

Golden Age singers

Nimbus on-line

Faure songs
Charlotte de Rothschild (soprano);

  Founder: Len Mullenger
Classical Editor: Rob Barnett

ĎGarden of Serenity IIí
(Improvisations by David and Steve Gordon)

Zen Garden (30.00)
Monetís Garden (30.00)
Zen Garden part II (4.49)
Monetís Garden part II (4.44)
Improvised by David Gordon, flute; Steve Gordon, harp and piano.
Notes in English including a poem by Andrew Marvell (1621 - 1678).
Recorded at Cardiff-by-the-Sea, California, USA, July 1996
SEQUOIA X 704 [69.33]


Those who are familiar with my classical music reviews know that now and then I outrage purists by suggesting that a particular classical album would make good background music or party music or meditation music. Many of our greatest masterpieces were originally intended as background musicóTelemannís Tafelmusik and the Serenades of Mozart come to mind. To the intellectual Prince Esterhazy, the symphonies of Haydn were good background music for his gatherings. I remember once when I was doing some brainstorming with a colleague, we played Bachís Kunst der Fuge in the background and found that it subliminally facilitated working out some difficult problems.

This CD is labelled "New Age" meditation music, but was brought to my attention partly because the theme for two of the meditations is the theme from Debussyís Reverie. The Gordon brothers donít do much with it, but then neither did Debussy; it makes a reference point for them to work away from.

Improvisation in jazz style is the easiest there is; what amazes me most about jazz is that people pay for it, when they could so easily learn to do it for themselves. You only have to know one chord and any mistake you make in rhythm or harmony can easily be worked around and into the texture. Thatís why classical musicians love to play jazz to unwind after a rigorous rehearsal day over a Mahler or Nielsen score. Even that post-romantic arpeggiated style that cocktail pianists do is reasonably easy; again, almost any note or beat you play can be worked into the pattern so nobody notices if you make a mistake. But this pure tonally white improvisation that the Gordon Brothers do is the most difficult thing there is, and the Gordon Brothers are masters at it. You canít repeat yourself or it quickly becomes boring, yet a single miscalculation and the mood is shattered and you have to start all over again.

Background music is not wallpaper music. The Chinese solved that problem millennia ago by inventing the wind chime. Here the Gordons use a little wind chime wallpaper sound now and then just to spice the mood. Mostly they use up-front the sound of flowing water and birdsongs to establish the ambience depicted in the cover picture of a Japanese garden in full bloom. The water sounds were recorded at a Sierra lake a 15 mile walk from the nearest dirt road to make sure there could be no intrusion of unwanted sounds. The birdsongs are recorded at a nature preserve in the valley and, along with a little wind chime, are mixed with the water sounds under the harp and flute improvisation for a sonic picture of a pleasant sunny day in a garden. Flutist Gordon displays a spectacular virtuoso shakuhachi flute technique that further underscores the Zen personality of the music.

This release is a follow up to an earlier release which I have not heard but which was a best seller.

Paul Shoemaker

Gerard Hoffnung CDs

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