I knew nothing
about Beata Moon until these two discs
(Perigee and Apogee and Earthshine)
arrived with a request from Len to review
Moon is a Korean-American
composer. Her debut came at the age
of eight with the Indianapolis Symphony
Orchestra. She graduated from the Juilliard
in 1990 and found her lodestar in composing.
She is an educator and is at the Lincoln
Center as a teaching artist.
There are no symphonies
here nor any epic extended strands of
music. That's descriptive: not a criticism.
The pieces on both CDs date from the
a lyrically intense quartettsatz. This
is extremely warm writing ending in
a gentle downward curve rather than
in fury. Makoto Nakura's pleasingly
accessible marimba playing presents
Moon's triptych Illusions in
a kindly and accessible light. Gamelan
echoes are inevitable but the writing
manages to avoid any oriental effect.
Nursery is played by Moon
herself and is by no means a little
charmer for little people. This is the
world of the young child from the vantage
point of adulthood. Guernica is
a sort of Allegro Barbaro - fast
rather than overtly tragic. The String
Quartet is subtitled ‘in homage
to Bela’ - namely Bela Bartók.
Bartók is the presence here but
he is conjured inventively with some
intriguing antiphonal and dynamic effects.
I liked the creaky-squeaky Eerie
after which the final Energetic
(very Hungarian) can seem quite
surprise surprise, a piece in three
succinct movements for alto saxophone
alone. Brian Sacawa gives no quarter.
The sound of key mechanisms, the quiet
patter of fingers and breathiness is
a distraction - minor though. It's a
fairly bleak little piece until we get
to the Nyman-influenced Flowing final
segment. Not the strongest item here.
I loved Vignettes
with Kevin Gallagher's electric
guitar slamming out or pattering in
emulation of the Segovian guitar. The
composer's electric piano nicely complements
the hysterical riffs and the echoing
shudders of the guitar. I loved the
epilogue in the form of a cortege for
the two instruments. Well worth having
Three Songs for
my Parents are for the composer's
piano with soprano alone, baritone alone
and then a duet. This is different again
in style - much simpler. The writing
has the gravity and lack of pretension
of a drawing room sampler. It is almost
hymnal and sometimes looks back in evident
affection towards Broadway and the salon.
Shall I compare thee to a summer's
day is a duet and has stylistic
links to the domestic piano stool. This
BiBimBop disc ends with the engaging
and endearing chant and chatter of the
Wind Quintet which has the warmth
of the Barber Summer Music but
is laid out with even greater clarity
- not at all desiccated or neo-classical.
There is pleasing music
presented here in carefully thought-through
One disc is from Moon's
own label the other is from the multitudinously
accommodating Albany label. The notes
for both discs are by Kyle Gann; very
informative especially in the case of
The Albany starts with
Safari which is a little
fantasy; kaleidoscopically active. It
thrives on patter motifs, enigmatic
violin figures, marimba punctuation
and sometimes recalls a sort of contemporary
Delage Chants Hindous. The Piano
Fantasy is jazzy or touched
with a Broadway wand. The writing recalls
the composer/lyricist dialogue in Sondheim’s
Merrily we roll along. Moonpaths
is in six movements drawing
on the domestic simplicity of the drawing
room; very affecting too. A certain
regretfulness registers well in the
final segment. There are other voices
too including a dancingly Copland flavour.
Submerged is the toughest
writing here giving the impression of
oceanic depths and a hint of Dies
I loved the laid-back
elegance of Antelope Vamp with
its soft-shoe rasp and long-limbed jazzy
piano soon joined by succulent marimba.
This needs to get on to the Classic
FM playlist. It's superbly recorded
giving a tangible sense of spatial placement
of the artists. Loved it.
The 1996 Winter
Sky is for a chastened violin
and piano. It is a desolately grieving
piece and the big tune has a Gaelic
curve. In Transit is for
solo piano and is faintly hazy with
glances cast sidelong at Mussorgsky's
Pictures and at Shostakovich.
After an allusive first movement it
resorts to bleakly haunted and haunting
similarly bleak before the solo voice
enters in a vocalise vying with the
lyrical charge of the Rachmaninov Vocalise.
The farewell offering
is a piece entitled Prelude.
It is a gentle and lovingly-shaped creation
indebted somewhat to Glass and Reich;
endearingly peaceable writing.
Two discs portraying
Moon as a composer of many facets. She
can be populist, jazzy, bleak, modernistic,
minimalist. She cares enough to perform
her own works. She has it in her to
grip the listener and a number of pieces
here are, on a first hearing, extremely
LIST OF WORKS
Wind Quintet (2004)
written for members of the Beata Moon
electric guitar and piano
commissioned by Kevin Gallagher 5' 30
Curved Air (2003)
commissioned by Curvd Air 7'
Movement for String Quartet (2002)
written for the Barbad Chamber Orchestra
for large chamber ensemble
premiered at Miller Theatre on 2/22/02
for actor, piano, percussion
text by poet Nadine Mozon 11'
Three Movements (2001)
for 2 sopranos, string orchestra and
dedicated to Barton M. and Judith L.
String Quartet (2000)
dedicated to Michael Patrick and Carol
Safari ° (2000)
marimba, percussion, flute, violin,
A Silent Movie (2000)
The Sequel (years later abroad) (2000)
for Alan and Karen
clarinet, violin 5'
Moonpaths ° (1998)
clarinet, violin, piano 18'
commissioned by SENSEDANCE
Winter Sky (1996)
for Chin Kim
violin, piano 4'30
soprano, piano, violin, drum 10'
commissioned by Edward Hudaverdi and
Antelope Vamp ° (1996)
electric violin, vibraphone, percussion,
commissioned by SENSEDANCE
s o l o - i n s t r u m e n t a l .....^
Keepers of Democracy (2004)
speaking pianist, piano, toy piano 5'30
text excerpted from Eleanor Roosevelt's
commissioned by Tom Rosenkranz
piano solo 3'
Premiered April 11, 2003 at Capistrano
Hall, Sacramento, CA.
commissioned for the Kaufman Center's
Lucy Moses School's 50th anniversary
for beginner-intermediate piano solo
commissioned by Brian Sacawa
saxophone solo 7'
commissioned by Makoto Nakura
In Transit ° (1999)
theatrical piece for unaccompanied cello
inspired by Bill Irwin & David Shiner
in "Fool Moon"
For Michael (1999)
Piano Fantasy ° (1998)
commissioned by SENSEDANCE
commissioned by SENSEDANCE
v o c a l .....^
The Beatitudes (2003)
for Jay Moon
baritone with piano 2'
Do Not Worry (2003)
dedicated to Susie & Bob Case
SATB a cappella 2'
We are One (2003)
children's choir 2'
Shall I Compare Thee to a Summer's Day?
soprano, baritone with piano 2'
From Your Eyes (1999)
baritone with piano, text by Korean
poet Sokchong Shin 2'
SATB, Christmas carol with audience
3 Songs for my Parents (1996)
....baritone with piano 2'
....soprano, baritone with piano 3'
....soprano with piano 2'
It's O.K. to be Me! (1992)
children's song 2'
You might find this
WALLEN The Girl in my Aphabet
for cello and piano, Are you
worried about the rising cost of funerals?
five simple songs for soprano and
string quartet, Louis' Loops for
toy piano, Horseplay for ensemble,
In our lifetime for baritone
and tape, The girl in my alphabet
for two pianos
Matthew Sharp (cello); Dominic Harlan
(piano) (Dervish) Patricia Rosario
(sop); David le Page (violin); Kirsty
Staines (violin); David Aspin (viola);
Joseph Spooner (cello); Philip Headlam
(conductor) (Five Simple Songs)
Margaret Leng Tan (two toy pianos) (Louis'
Loops) Continuum Ensemble/Philip
Headlam (Horseplay) Mike Henry
(bar) (In Our Lifetime) Douglas
Finch; Errollyn Wallen (pianos) (The
Girl in My Alphabet) rec Cowell
Theatre, Fort Mason Centre, San Francisco,
USA (Louis' Loops); March 1990,
Wallen Music Centre, London (In Our
Lifetime); 8-9 Oct 2001, Potton
Hall, Suffolk, England; 25 March 1999
AVIE AV 0006 [70.11] [RB]
is a brashly creative, open-minded composer
striding with confident abandon from
jazz, to Tippett, to spirituals, to
Schoenberg, to Mediterranean mystery.