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Beata MOON
Saros (full contents list at end of review)
Arash Amini (cello); Cyrus Beroukhim (violin); Patricia Davis (violin); Patrick Durek (guitar); Benjamin Fingland (clarinet); Lisa Flanagan (soprano); Jessica Meyer (viola); Wai-Chi Tang (marimba)
rec. DiMenna Center for Classical Music, 10-11 March 2012
BIBIMBOP no number [56:01]

As we know from Beata Moon’s previous CDs her music is unfailingly melodic and unerringly emotional. By all means have a look at how we have received her previously: piano music on Naxos (review) and a selection of her Albany CDs (review).
 
Dinner is West is a piano trio in eight little movements. These range through various brands of delight that veer between a hint of minimalism in the ostinatos, open-air Copland-like Americana, ear-tickling rhythmic invention, frosty romanticism, early-Fauré cantabile, a touch of syncopation and smiling rhapsodic serenading. It is by no means boneless either. Wood, Water & Land is for solo marimba. It’s catchy, conspiratorial, confiding and conspicuously virtuosic. There are plenty of lovely subtle touches, as in the way the music almost murmurs at 1:50 - quite a feat for a percussion instrument.
 
Tenancy is for cello and piano. Its three movements are big-hearted and pulsatingly dramatic and rhapsodic - progress feels instinctive and the instincts are good. A healthy sense of movement courses through Dragonfly which is for viola, clarinet and piano. Its clarinet line occasionally seems to reference Nyman’s Where the Bee Dances and none the worse for that. The end is thoughtfully inconclusive.
 
The music-making and imagination at play in the Dickinson Songs pay an individual homage to a style very familiar from Barber’s songs. The Dickinson Songs are as quirky as the words they set. The witty and zany I Felt a Funeral is truly memorable as also is the extremely engaging Hope is the thing with feathers.
 
Moon surprises with A Collage of Memories for violin and piano. The libation of dissonance, disconnect and hysteria is stronger in the first two pieces than elsewhere. The third, Reflective, has the rounded passion and poetry of Tenancy. In the last two pieces we meet an exotically dank mix of RVW’s Lark and Bartók’s Rumanian Dances plus elements that are loose-limbed and bluesy. I loved the name of the last piece in the sequence: Campy, ma non troppo. The Rhapsody for solo piano is played by the composer - she is the pianist throughout. It comes from the part of Moon’s glossary that accommodates big-hearted dramatic romance alongside fragments that recalled Einaudi - but there is more active detailing here.
 
There is nothing here to harm and much to bless yet Moon manages to steer clear of the land of bland.
 
You can hear the composer talking about her music here and her own website will offer further insights alongside those in the fold out ‘sleeve’.
 
Criticise this disc because it runs for under an hour but the music assuredly pleases: a tirelessly sincere and touching combination of song, drama and dance.
 
Rob Barnett 
 
Full Contents List 
Dinner is West for violin, cello and piano (2005)
1 First Impressions 2:34
2 "God Laughs" 3:07
3 Juxtaposin 2:22
4 "The Night Watch" 1:59
5 Form with Circumstance 1:50
6 "A Dream" 2:12
7 Curtain Call 1:24
 
Wood, Water & Land 4:40
 
Tenancy for cello and piano (2011)
9 Reflective; Expansive 4:48
10 Playful 2:14
11 Lyrical 4:21
 
Dragonfly for viola, clarinet and piano (2010) 4:16
 
Dickinson Songs for soprano and guitar (2006)
13 I'm nobody! Who are you? 0:49
14 The bustle in a house 1:00
15 I felt a Funeral, in my Brain 2:47
16 Hope is the thing with feathers 2:00
 
A Collage of Memories for violin and piano (2005)
17 Dramatic; intense 1:17
18 Rambunctious 1:18
19 Reflective 2:32
20 Intro; freer 1:50
21 Campy, ma non troppo 2:19
 
22 Rhapsody for solo piano (2009) 4:22