Back in the summer of 2008, Danielle Belén contacted me with a very attractive proposal: she wanted to record my complete (or complete up to that point) works for violin on Naxos. Having recently won the Sphinx Grand Prize, Danielle had been charged with tapping an American composer for her debut recording.
We all know the truism that careers are a matter of who you know. For the most part, this rule holds true, so it’s particularly gratifying to get this kind of opportunity from a complete stranger out of the blue.
Strangers at the outset, over the next two-plus years Danielle and I corresponded, met in Los Angeles and Winston-Salem, and talked through musical and nonmusical issues. I quickly discovered that I had a remarkable champion for my works: though our backgrounds are largely dissimilar, Danielle connected with my music on a very deep level. She got the humor and the emotional range immediately, and her attention to detail was really inspiring.
Now, in April 2011, the relationship Danielle developed with my music has finally come to fruition: Naxos has released the results in an attractive disk, available here.
The recordings are pristine and her collaborators (David Fung, Juan-Miguel Hernandez and Stan Muncy) are outstanding. But the center that holds it all together is Danielle. She is the best kind of virtuoso: the kind who puts her considerable gifts in service of the music, rather than making the music kowtow to her own ego.
Her performance of Mister Blister is scorching, Façade mixes an old-world charm with alarming psychotic turns, Bacchus Chaconne is raunchy and Spring Passing is played like a wistful folk tune. The range of expression alone is impressive – and all of the above and more are on display in the other three works on the disk: Fifteen Minutes, The Voice and Sonata: Motion.
If you gather from this blog post that I’m pretty happy with the results, you don’t know the half of it.
Today, Danielle will be performing the first of several CD release events in a house concert in Santa Monica. More events are planned over the next 10 months – stay tuned.