Thursday, September 10, 2009

CD of the Year (provisional): A Place Between

For the inaugural music post here, what better way to start than with what I'm quite sure will end up as my favourite album of 2009 - "A Place Between", the first CD produced by the Louth Contemporary Music Society. A quick glance at the contents will make it clear that this is largely an album of the "holy minimalism" associated predominantly with eastern European composers. It's as fine an introduction to this sort of music as you're likely to hear, without any of it being as it were obvious - there are several premiere recordings here, and of course Tavener, Part, and Gorecki in particular have much better-known works. As you might expect, it's a contemplative collection, without being the slightest bit bland or simplistic. Some of it's beautiful, some of it's dark-hued, and some of it's both. Actually it would make an ideal gift for someone who doesn't know (or doesn't think they like) any modern music, or whose classical comfort zone doesn't extend much beyond crossover. It deserves to be a massive hit.
Highlights? It's one of those albums where everything's a highlight, but for me the two standouts happen to be the two works by Part: "Hymn to a Great City" (Michael McHale playing both piano parts) has a good-humoured charm you don't often see with this composer; "Da pacem Domine" will be familiar to anyone who's heard the magnificent album of that name from Paul Hillier and the Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir (emusic link), but here it's in a gorgeous string quartet form.

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