LeBARON: Pope Joan; Transfiguration. Kristin Norderval, Lucy Shelton, soprano; Dorothy Stone, flutes; Camilla Hoitenga, flute; Keve Wilson, oboes; Jim Sullivan, clarinets; Lorna Eder, piano; Eric km Clark, violin; Andrew McIntosh, viola; Erika Duke-Kirkpatrick, cello; June Han, harp; Nicholas Terry, William Trigg, percussion; Mark Menzies, Rand Steiger, conductor. New World 80663. 70 minutes.
Anne LeBaron writes ritualistic music of excitement and power. LeBaron uses techniques from a dazzling array of styles and periods to craft pieces that hang together as expressive wholes. Pope Joan and Transfiguration are both settings of texts that deal with secret or alternative histories, in which the world is either very different from the world we think we are in (Pope Joan) or a world that has turned out differently (Transfigurations).
LeBaron brings her considerable talent and imagination to bear in these pieces, producing works of deep political commitment that are not swallowed up by the politics. LeBaron’s voice is a distinctively late 20th century American one, embracing the European and American avant-garde traditions and American pop gestures with equal effect.
The performances here are assured and expressive. Everyone involved is on the composer’s wave-length and make the stylistic changes seamlessly. The sound is very good and the notes, especially an essay by musicologist Judy Lochhead, are excellent. Highly recommended.