The music in this album sings and dances, in Abel’s “colorful blend of styles that serve the emotional nature of each work to bracing and poignant effect” (Gramophone). It further clarifies why Abel is “one of the most interesting figures in American contemporary music” (Pizzicato). Composer Mark Abel has been based in California for the past three decades. Abel’s idiom eludes easy pigeon-holing. It includes chamber music and vocal works, whose contours extend from art song to larger forms with orchestra to a 103-minute chamber opera, Home Is a Harbor. This is Mark’s fifth release on Delos. The incomparable David Shifrin begins the program with Intuition’s Dance, a combination of frolic and dreamy ruminations in which he is joined byRead more pianist Carol Rosenberger. (This is the first time Shifrin and Rosenberger have recorded together since their memorable albums in 1984!) Next comes the remarkable Hila Plitmann singing the powerfully moving Four Poems of Marina Tsvetaeva — the first-ever setting of Tsvetaeva’s poetry in English translation. She is joined by Rosenberger and English hornist Sarah Beck. Colorful and haunting, The Elastic Hours are brought to life with virtuosity by Sabrina-Vivian Höpcker and Dominic Cheli. This is Sabrina’s first Delos recording since her success with the Brahms Hungarian Dances in 2018 (DE 3558). In the richly lyrical Clarinet Trio, Shifrin and Rosenberger are joined by Fred Sherry for a musical journey beginning with “The Unfolding,” moving to “Taking Flight,” and finally ending with a peaceful and tender “In Good Time.”
What impresses consistently on this program is the beautiful melodic-harmonic poise of it all. One is reminded somewhat of a present-day Bartok in that the music creates an unforced and refreshing stream of inventive form-in-motion like the great Bela’s music did so consistently. There is a continual series of musical acrobatics that neither relies upon the expected nor flavor-of-the-month bandwagoneering. That may mean that Mark Abel does not get a lot of attention for being on some cutting edge. The positive side of that is that the music always sounds lucid and relevant and by so doing should attract a wide variety of listeners.
This is rather brilliant written music that is well played. It will appeal to anyone who loves the intimate, “serious” sort of chamber music that speaks directly to the connoisseur of such things.
– Gapplegate Classical-Modern Music Review Read less