This is one of two recordings from the Boston Modern Orchestra
Project (BMOP) of which I received an mp3 preview. I regret that the other
was well removed from my comfort zone.
I’m not aware that I have encountered the music of Elena Ruehr before, though
there are two recordings of her music on Avie, one of which, also recently
released, with the generic title Lift
, contains chamber music (AV2319).
The earlier CD, of music for soprano, baritone, chorus and orchestra was well
received, though we seem to have missed it here at MusicWeb International
Having tried and disliked the other BMOP sampler, I turned with trepidation
to Ruehr’s music and immediately found myself enjoying it. As one reviewer
wrote of Averno
, the major work on the earlier Avie CD, there is little
here to frighten the horses, but I would add that there is much to challenge
the listener and to enjoy. It’s all sui generis
, so it’s hard to describe,
but I think that if you like Arvo Pärt or John Tavener – The Protecting
, perhaps – you should like this recording. Significantly, the composer
writes in the booklet, with clearly implied regret, of the neglect of melody
-century music theory classes. Even if you don’t subscribe
you could listen to short samples there and judge for yourself; subscribers
can stream or purchase the download. As my preview was at a low bit-rate
(192 kb/s), I used the Qobuz streamed version for this review.
The music ranges in date from Ruehr’s postgrad student days at the Juilliard
and the University of Michigan to the present. Three of the pieces are inspired
by the paintings of Georgia O’Keeffe, illustrated on the cover and in the
booklet, though I wasn’t able to discern any particular programmatic links.
Another influence stems from the composer’s love of dance, evident in the
strong rhythm of much of the music.
As these are, to the best of my knowledge, the only available recordings,
I have no benchmark against which to judge them but the quality of the performances
certainly contributed to my enjoyment and appreciation. The recording is
also very good.
Not an essential purchase, then, but a reassuring reminder that some composers
are still writing powerful music which combines a modern idiom with an appealing
beauty. Now I must explore one or both of those Avie recordings. Classicsonline.com
also offers a download version of an Albany recording of Ruehr’s music (TROY1117
– also available for streaming from Naxos
). Spot-sampling from NML suggests that that, too, combines
something important to say with approachability of style.