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Rain WORTHINGTON (b.1950)
Dream Vapors: Selected Works for Orchestra
1. Shredding Glass (2004) [10.11]
2. Reversing Mirrors in the Quiet (2012) [6.08]
3. Tracing a Dream (2009) [8.15]
4. Fast Through Dark Winds (2013) [6.33]
5. Within a Dance (2012) [7.51]
6. Yet Still Night (2001) [6.04]
7. Of Time Remembered (2011) [7.56]
Czech Philharmonic Orchestra/Robert Ian Winstin (1,6)
Moravian Philharmonic Orchestra/Petr Vronsky (2,4,5,7)
Russian Philharmonic Orchestra/Ovidiu Marinescu (3)
rec. Reduta Hall, Olomouc, Czech Republic, 11 June 2015 (2, 4), 2 July 2013 (5), 28 November, 2011 (7), no details, 2006 (1, 6), Moscow, March 2010 (3)

This is important and interesting music, from a composer with something significant - and different - to say. Take, for example, the first piece, Shredding Glass, written in the aftermath of 9/11. The shredding glass is from the Twin Towers. The music is not angry, but rather elegiac in tone, from a sombre and striking opening. It has been described, on its original mp3 release, as evoking the feelings of an impotent but concerned spectator. The composer builds tension through tone clusters, with ever-deepening intensity of feeling. This is not simply a technical exercise in composing sad music: one senses the deep emotion behind it, but, more importantly, shares that feeling. It absorbs the listener. There is grief, with all its intensity, but it is the shared concern of humanity: this is human music.

This is Rain Worthington's first CD of orchestral music, after a life of much variety, with time spent as a music teacher, at another time working in the box office at Troy Savings Bank Music Hall in Albany; known for its wooden auditorium and fine acoustic - many of George Lloyd's works were recorded there. Some pieces, such as Shredding Glass, have been available singly as mp3 downloads, but this CD offers to the opportunity to grasp more thoroughly her compositional voice.

That voice is succinct, always clear and with a strong sense of development. Examination of her scores, available at the label's website, together with notes on the works, reveals an approach to orchestration which is often sparse and clear. She has cited Aaron Copland and some of the minimalists as formative influences. Apparent here is that openness and distinctiveness of expression.

Try, for example, the shortest work on the CD, Yet Still Night. This is a cityscape rather than a rural nocturne. It begins with the sounds of bells, on a piano, quiet and clear, very beautiful. These delicate sounds gradually merge into something stronger. The composer describes the piece as one in which 'recurrent punctuations of an urban soundscape reverberate in the late hours and mix with an emotional insight suffused with sadness and clarity that dreams and conflict will continue, insistent and inconsolable.' Exactly so - and the listener is carried through the piece as it builds: and then it stops, without resolution.

For too many composers, modern music is either the sound of squeaky gates or inconsequential, aimless shimmerings. Neither description is appropriate here: the modernity is in speaking to the condition of humanity as it is.

Profits from the CD all go to an Alzheimer's charity.

Explore this - it is special.

Michael Wilkinson


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