A Midwinter Night’s Dream
Canadian Music Centre 12306
Any one considering an opera suitable for young people may want to consider Harry Somers’ A Midwinter Night’s Dream. The story takes place in very-north America, near the Artic circle, and tells the story of a bored young man who slips into a dream, thinking he is dead. The libretto, by Tim Wynne-Jones, shows a fusion of cultures, combining folklore and present-day ideas (like Star Wars and Miami Vice).
The score is atmospheric. Using a piano and percussion, along with a children’s chorus, the textures move the text (and I assume the action) to the foreground. The musical language is at times complex and “modern,” but also playful and perfectly suited for young singers and listeners.
Ben Goldberg Quintet
The door, the hat, the chair, the fact
The juxtaposition of relatively standard jazz numbers with abstract songs suits the Ben Goldberg Quintet: they are either a jazz combo or a new music ensemble (why not both). The opening work, Petals, is a compact prologue featuring Ben Goldberg for the first twenty seconds. Song and Dance is a bouncing ensemble piece complete with solos and catchy riffs.
Carla Kihlstedt intones the words of Ben Goldberg’s teacher, Steve Lacy, in Facts, accompanying herself on the violin, and later joined by the rest, in a seductive melody. The following track, Blinks, a composition by Steve Lacy, displays a delicate, pointillism that grows into an all out brawl.
Cello music from Bulgaria
Kalin Ivanov, cello
Elena Antimova, piano
Homesickness can do wonders for the creative mind. Roumi Petrova (b. 1970) expresses her love and longing for Bulgaria in Enchanted Rhythms. The musical language isn’t unique, but it does capture what, I suspect, is a Bulgarian sound. The rhythms are energetic; the melodies are real Bulgarian songs or made to sound that way. The opening Passacaglia on a Traditional Bulgarian Melody “pays tribute to the Bulgarian community in New York City.” Two cello sonatas and a five movement suite are also included, all remaining faithful to Petrova’s vision of creating strong Bulgarian music.