A special eight-page section focusing on recent recordings from the US and Canada

Glancey ‘Ashes to Impulse’ Capricea. Effervesceb. Elegy for Parrhesiac. Experienced. From the Four Windse. General Review of the Sex Situationd. Identity Crisise. One Perfect Rosed. Out of the Frayf. Patternd. Theoryd. Two-Volume Noveld. Under a Shattered Moong

d Joni Fukuda-Prado sop gBarry Crawford, bRogier de Pijper ls gBenjamin Fingland cl eRonald Stewart tpt gEmilie-Anne Gendron vn gChris Goss, fNara Shahbazyan vcs bPaolo Gorini, fYoko Hagino, c Junghwa Lee pf gMatthew Gold, gMike Trusdale perc gJames Baker cond aDuo Zonda; eNemø Ensemble / Kevin Hendrickx Ravello (RR8097 • 75’) Recorded 2005 23

The road towards recognition has been a somewhat slow and circuitous one for

Gregory T Glancey. Indeed, one of the compositions on this disc dates to the late 1990s. This album promises to change all that, extending Glancey’s reach beyond the American new music college and conservatoire scene to a much wider audience.

‘Ashes to Impulse’ takes its inspiration from Ezekiel chapter 37, described by the composer in the accompanying online notes as the ‘supernatural resurrection from lifeless ashes to radiant impulse’. This powerful image is transformed into a nightmarish vision in From the Four Winds for ensemble with soprano. Ominous lowlying pedal tones on percussion appear alongside twisting piano and woodwind lines and ghostly Sprechstimme, evoking a starkly desolate landscape that operates on both physical and psychological levels.

From the Four Winds contains several stylistic gestures – ‘Glancey-isms’, for want of a better term – that are also heard in several other pieces. Openings often begin in subdued and understated but nevertheless eye-catching fashion, revolving around a single pitch (or set of pitches) – as if presented from a series of different angles or viewpoints – before

eventually culminating in a series of dramatic (and sometimes chaotic) moments.

Along with Glancey’s treatment of texture and timbre, this suggests the influence of spectral music. It’s one approach among many, however, and the mood can change in an instant. This can be heard in Under the Shattered Moon for mixed chamber ensemble, where a microtonally infused flute melody at the beginning gives way to lyrical, neoRomantic passages. If Under the Shattered Moon occasionally suggests more consonant-sounding Elliott Carter, Elegy for Parrhesia for piano resembles more dissonant-sounding Ravel. Glancey’s background in film music is also evident in some of these stylistic touches, although pinpointing the origins of these many sources can be tricky as they have become so enmeshed in the composer’s own distinctive style. With standout performances by Junghwa Lee in Elegy for Parrhesia, Duo Zonda in Caprice for two flutes and the excellent Nemø Ensemble in From the Four Winds, ‘Ashes to Impulse’ offers as comprehensive an introduction to this composer’s vivid chamber idiom as one might hope to expect in 75 minutes. Well worth exploring. Pwyll ap Siôn

Mikhashoff Beggars’ Songsa. Seis Caprichosa. Dances for Davia – I; IIb. Rosenkranzliedera. Sebastian im Trauma

a Tiffany Du Mouchelle sop bSarah Frisof l b Daniel Pesca, aAmy Williams pf New Focus (FCR392 • 59’)

Yvar Mikhashoff (1941-93) was best known as a pianist who championed

contemporary music in big ways. He thought nothing of presenting day-long surveys of American piano works, or commissioning 127 composers to write tangos, and then playing 88 of them in a marathon concert. Yet few are aware of this

remarkable musician’s protean creative output, save possibly for his exquisite opera paraphrases or his 1990 piano triptych Elemental Figures. While the latter might be described as Ravel’s Gaspard de la nuit as rewritten by Ives or Sorabji, the songcycles and flute suites on this disc, largely dating from Mikhashoff’s youth, entirely consist of short and accessibly tonal pieces.

In the first set of Dances for Davia for flute and piano, the 17-year-old Mikhashoff already reveals a sophisticated harmonic palette and a knack for surface charm. ‘Waltz for a Rainy Day’ and ‘Gypsy Dance’ are delightful Poulenc-like knock-offs, while ‘Amy’s Piece’ looks back to Satie’s Gymnopédies while foretelling Henry Mancini’s ‘Moon River’. Composed in 1979, the second set sometimes charts adventurous waters, such as in the flurries of runs in ‘Magic Wind-Dance’ that elegantly dovetail between the instruments. ‘David’s Pavane’ and ‘Silver Waltz’ also exemplify the degree to which the composer’s attractive lyrical instincts would mature and take serious shape. Flautist Sarah Frisof and pianist Daniel Pesca not only play impeccably but phrase and breathe as one clairvoyant entity.

As a song-writer, Mikhashoff is largely based in the tradition of Americans with a Francophile bent such as Aaron Copland, Ned Rorem and Lee Hoiby. In Beggars’ Songs, for example, notice the leisurely arpeggios bathing the reflective vocal setting of Yeats’s ‘The White Birds’, or the way the words of Anne Morrow Lindbergh’s poem ‘Alms’ gain traction through Mikhashoff’s deployment of wide intervals, buttressed by an achingly sparse accompaniment. By contrast, Seis Caprichos deftly assimilates aspects of flamenco (the vocal embellishments in ‘Crótalo’), while the understated contrapuntal rigour informing the three Rosenkranzlieder made me wonder if Mikhashoff had played through the more introspective songs in Hindemith’s Das Marienleben. The gifted composer Amy Williams’s seasoned and supportive pianism works hand in glove with soprano Tiffany Du Mouchelle, with whom I was fortunate to share a 2005 concert bill showcasing my principal