Author Topic: "New" Music Log  (Read 88959 times)

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Offline Mandryka

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Re: "New" Music Log
« Reply #420 on: April 14, 2019, 07:45:54 PM »
Yes it’s what I think of, perhaps incorrectly, as Italianate - lots of different attacks and colours, razor sharp ensemble singing, and well recorded.
« Last Edit: April 14, 2019, 07:49:45 PM by Mandryka »
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Offline San Antone

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Re: "New" Music Log
« Reply #421 on: April 14, 2019, 11:03:31 PM »
Quote
A few years back, I started listening to Spanish Golden Age composers.  Cristóbal de Morales stood out and stands out as the rock star not just of that era and group, but of all polyphonic composers.  To be sure, other great composers penned mighty fine music, but there's just something about Morales.  Last year, I discovered Cipriano de Rore while working my way through the DHM hundred disc long box. 

Cirpiano de Rore was neither Italian nor Spanish but Flemish, likely born in Flanders.  As did many of these composers he studied and worked most of his life in Italy, changing the spelling of his name in the process.

I am a fan of both the vocal group and composer and would like to compare this recording to the recent one by Graindelavoix.



And since both are on Spotify, I will asap.

 8)
« Last Edit: April 14, 2019, 11:09:08 PM by San Antone »

Offline Mandryka

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Re: "New" Music Log
« Reply #422 on: April 16, 2019, 06:51:38 AM »
I'd be quite interested to explore de Rore's sacred music myself.
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Offline Todd

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Re: "New" Music Log
« Reply #423 on: April 20, 2019, 04:24:31 AM »
Cirpiano de Rore was neither Italian nor Spanish but Flemish, likely born in Flanders.


I neglected to include one sentence that would have cleared up my intent.  I know Rore wasn't Spanish, but the intent was more to compare the quality and impact of his music to Morales than to comment on his nationality.  I'm thinking I can just snag any old Rore disc and have listening experiences qualitatively similar to those with Morales.  I intend to find out.
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Offline Todd

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Re: "New" Music Log
« Reply #424 on: April 21, 2019, 04:57:34 AM »



About a year ago, I sampled four discs' worth of Leopold Koželuch keyboard sonatas played by Jenny Soonjin Kim on period instruments.  I was aware of Kemp English's competing cycle, and I thought I should probably give his set a shot, so when I was able to procure this eleventh disc from his twelve disc cycle for a few bucks, I grabbed it.  I had thought Mr English's cycle was on modern instruments, but it is, in fact, HIP.  It's so HIP, that this volume uses refurbished instruments from the 18th and early 19th Centuries.  Mr English is a true blue academic-musician, with his focus being on the works of Koželuch.  Unsurprisingly, he provided the liner notes.  He knows his stuff, inside and out.  He apparently owns other instruments used in the cycle, though not the two here, and he and his wife serve as producers.  His wife serves as artist photographer.  The whole project is a nice, little Koželuch enthusiast affair.  Another fun fact, the sonatas are presented in the order put together by Christopher Hogwood.

The disc has two later and three earlier sonatas.  The sonata numbers themselves do not represent composition date, though the academic numbering system does.  The disc opens with the first recordings of sonatas 42 and 43.  Played on a 1815 Johann Fritz fortepiano, both two movement sonatas are light, fun works.  It is not entirely inconceivable that Beethoven took some inspiration for his little sonatinas from these works, and whether or not he did, the works are basically best described as an LvB Op 49 / Weber sonata hybrid.  There's nothing difficult about the music.  Both end with Rondos, and the latter of the two finds the keyboardist making most excellent and entertaining use of the moderator in the very dance like music.  Mr English enthuses in his notes that this keyboard may very have been used to play these sonatas way back when, and that maybe even Beethoven himself played the instrument.  Who knows?  I do know that the keyboard sounds just a bit thin, but otherwise quite delightful.

The last three sonatas on the disc are played on a 1785 Longman & Broderip harpsichord, which was apparently hand-built by Thomas Culliford, who was a grandfather of Charles Dickens.  This is one of the beefiest sounding harpsichords I've heard.  It's nearly as hefty as the fortepiano, and completely lacks the too bright sound that often plagues recorded harpsichords.  The lower registers have some notable heft.  Indeed, one could swap sonata-instrument combinations on the disc and miss nothing, and perhaps gain something.  Anyway, these early sonatas are even less challenging than the later sonatas.  They are no less fun.  Indeed, the (literally) extra-plucky Andante from sonata 44 caused an instant smile to appear on my face.  I'm talking Haydn levels of fun here.  The same feat is accomplished in the spunky Arietta con variazioni of the 45th sonata.  I cannot think of another harpsichord recording I've heard that sounds like it.  This is a fine, condensed set of variations.  It's just so much fun.  And that's more or less how the remainder of this disc is.  Nothing sounds heavy, dour, intense, storming the heavens, etc.  All is lighter, classical era goodness.

After hearing this one disc, I think I may be interested in getting Mr English's set when it is offered in cheap box form.  Streaming is an option, but I kinda want the discs.

Sound is really quite fine and exceedingly natural.
« Last Edit: April 21, 2019, 06:05:14 AM by Todd »
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Offline The new erato

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Re: "New" Music Log
« Reply #425 on: April 21, 2019, 05:51:22 AM »
Do you know for a fact that it will be boxed up?

Offline Todd

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Re: "New" Music Log
« Reply #426 on: April 21, 2019, 05:56:58 AM »
Do you know for a fact that it will be boxed up?


Alas, no, I am hoping, though it at least seems a reasonable probability.
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Offline The new erato

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Re: "New" Music Log
« Reply #427 on: April 21, 2019, 06:40:23 AM »

Alas, no, I am hoping, though it at least seems a reasonable probability.
In which case I might be a buyer. I only know Kozeluch's piano concertos, and they are mighty fine.

Offline Brian

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Re: "New" Music Log
« Reply #428 on: April 21, 2019, 07:07:33 AM »
Naxos is very slow and reluctant to box up their series. There are too many examples to count (just to go off a recent Todd post: Gilbert Rowland's Soler or Rameau). But in June they're doing one nice counterexample, a very belated reissue of Einar Steen-Nøkleberg's Grieg piano music. Might be cause for hope?

Offline Todd

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Re: "New" Music Log
« Reply #429 on: April 28, 2019, 04:45:45 AM »



Every once in a while I get a hankerin' for some Hindemith.  This time around works for viola and viola and piano tickled my fancy.  The selected disc includes some compositions by Michaël Lévinas thrown in for good measure.  Gérard Caussé handles alto fiddling on this disc.  My limited experience with his artistry made me think I'd hear some good playing, and that came to pass.  The disc opens with Hindemith's Op 25, No 1 Sonata for Solo Viola, and it's a somewhat austere, cold affair.  Composer and performer exploit the instrument well enough, and there's some nicely aggressive playing in the Wild movement, and some moments of beauty, but quite often the piece sounds like an exercise in structural and developmental display and little else.  Not that there's anything wrong with that.  Not that there's anything wrong with Caussé's playing, but I just couldn't stop wondering "What would Nils Mönkemeyer do?" 

Les Lettres enlacées II by Michaël Lévinas follows.  It's also for solo viola, and it's more to my liking.  Lévinas himself wrote some of the liner notes, so what he's after, and what he achieves, is a polyphonic piece replete with so much double stop writing that it often sounds like a two instrument work.  It starts slow and quiet and stays that way much of the time, slowly unfolding in a medieval-modern hybrid way.  The only objection I have is the uncommonly abrupt coda.  This is my first exposure to Lévinas the composer, and it's nearly as successful as my experiences with Lévinas the soloist.  The next work is also from Lévinas, here Les Lettres enlacées IV, a string quintet with an extra viola part.  Monsieur Caussé is joined by the Quatour Ludwig.  More energetic and necessarily denser than the solo instrument piece, it nonetheless starts off similarly quiet and unfolds in a continuous polyphonic arc.  The effect is amplified because of the number of instruments.  In the solo work, Lévinas writes of a "false glissandi" effect, and that is likewise amplified here.  The work has echoes of Gloria Coates' string quartets, but it seems better structured and more purposeful. 

The disc closes with Caussé and Lévinas teaming up for Hindemith's Sonata for Viola and Piano, Op 11-4.  It's the most old-fashioned sounding work on the disc, and ultimately the most satisfying.  It sounds of its time (post-WWI) and rather French or French-ish (think Franck).  Far lovelier, melodic, and easier on the ear, the work hints at romantic music while being more structurally robust.  One unique feature, and something I don't really recall hearing before, is the use of two theme and variations movements back-to-back.  That's a lot of themes and variations.  Anyway, the work is just swell, and one I could see exploring in other versions.  Again, Nils Mönkemeyer's name comes to mind immediately.  He really ought to record these works.

Excellent sound.  Overall, this is an enjoyable disc that makes me think investigating more Hindemith and more Lévinas is a good idea.
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Offline Todd

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Re: "New" Music Log
« Reply #430 on: May 04, 2019, 06:03:44 AM »



[This will be cross-posted in The Asian Invasion]


It has been way too long since I last listened to something new from Bright Sheng.  His Pipa Concerto (I'll call it) Nanking! Nanking! has been a favorite East-West hybrid piece since I first heard it many moons ago, and now just seemed like a good time to try something else.  This Naxos title includes three works, all basically programmatic concertos, for different instruments, and all boldly mix East and West again. 

The disc opens with The Song and Dance of Tears, a sort of double (or more) concerto, with Pipa again employed, and also a Sheng, a mouth organ, or bagless bagpipe type contraption with ancient roots, getting some spotlight time.  But then, so do other individual instruments, and whole sections, so it's more than a double concerto  The music is nearly cinematic and sweeping and grand at times, and at others it scales back, speeds up, and rushes through passages.  About nine minutes in, there is some music very reminiscent of the last movement of Bartok's Concerto for Orchestra, and immediately after there's some Revueltas sounding stuff, and one can hear some Mahler later on, as well as some other Western composers, but then all around it, weaving in and out, is music that very clearly sounds informed by Chinese folk music of various sorts.  How much is lifted directly from original sources, or abstracted in a manner like Bartok, I cannot say, but I can say the mixes of sounds and the textural variety is novel, and the piece never outstays it brief twenty-two-ish minute length.  The eighteen-ish minute Percussion Concerto Colors of Crimson follows, and after its opening very reminiscent of Berg's Violin Concerto, it morphs into a more standard if approachable contemporary concerto.  There's some lovely, melodic writing for the strings and winds, and while informed by Chinese music, it sounds more vague, less concrete, less obvious much of the time.  That's neither praise nor criticism, but just observation.  The piece would make for a fine opener for a mixed rep concert.  The disc closes with The Blazing Mirage, which is basically a Cello Concerto.  Trey Lee positively digs into his solo part at the opening, producing a big, fat tone and displaying superb control.  Again infused with some folk or folk-inspired music, and also with some neo-romantic sensibility, and some soaring string writing, it offers a crowd pleasing sound, but also real musical heft.  It's the broadest, largest scale work on the disc, even though it comes in under nineteen minutes.  It's the best thing on the disc - and everything is very good - and I would not mind one little bit if Carlos Kalmar decided to program it one season around these parts.

The composer himself leads the Hong Kong Philharmonic.  All players acquit themselves more than handsomely.  I shan't wait such a long time to listen to more Sheng. 
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Offline Todd

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Re: "New" Music Log
« Reply #431 on: May 12, 2019, 04:35:52 AM »



The Mercier box has been a most enjoyable set, offering a chance to explore lesser known works.  I ended with Bizet's infrequently performed and recorded opera Djamileh.  The synopsis is a bit iffy: sex slave Djamileh loves sultan Haroun, who is about to swap harem girls.  Lustful assistant Splendiano hatches a plan to have Djamileh for himself, but it backfires when the master recognizes that he loves his slave.  How sweet!  Fortunately, the musical components are more compelling than the dramatic ones.  Light and beautiful, with lovely harmonic invention, and gallicized whiffs of Wagnerian chromaticism blended with Rossini and Gounod, not to mention Bizet, the music often sounds forward looking.  One can hear some flute music that points the way to Debussy and orchestration that seems somewhat Ravelian.  Even in the faux Eastern music, everything about the work is decidedly French sounding, its potential inspirations notwithstanding.  It cruises along breezily, even given the subject, and is filled with attractive vocal writing to go with the often gorgeous orchestral writing.  I doubt I listen to this work a whole lot, but it's very lovely sounding and in very fine sound. 
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Offline Todd

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Re: "New" Music Log
« Reply #432 on: May 19, 2019, 04:28:02 AM »



Up until this point, when it comes to the music of Mieczysław Weinberg, I've limited myself to the string quartet cycle performed by the Danel Quartet and a one off by the Pacifica Quartet.  In this centenary year, it seemed like a good time to try something new, especially in the form of the debut DG recording by Mirga Gražinytė-Tyla.  (It took until only 2019 for DG to release a disc conducted by a woman.)  Here's a disc where almost everything is new to me.

Kinda.  While I do enjoy Weinberg's string quartets, it is impossible not to hear the rather obvious similarity to the music of Shostakovich.  So it goes in the Second Symphony, for strings orchestra.  Plus something else.  That something else is Honegger, whose wartime Second Symphony seems to inform the music, as well.  There's some darkness and resignation of DSCH, and some searing string writing reminiscent of the Honegger.  While this description makes the work seem derivative, it's more than that.  It is quite effective on its own terms, even if I don't see myself listening to it especially frequently.  The Kremerata Baltica play superbly and generate an at times biting, astringent tone, exactly as needed.

The big work is the Twenty-First Symphony, Kaddish, completed in 1991 and dedicated to the victims of the Polish Ghetto.  Gražinytė-Tyla conducts the CBSO and the Kremerata Baltica in the honkin' big piece.  It starts dark.  It stays dark.  Out of the gate, the tempo is measured, the low strings add weight, and the high strings play with edge.  There's a very Mahlerian sound to start, and then some Jewish music gets worked into the mix, as does Gidon Kremer for the solo duties.  His tone is often austere and wiry, which works well, and Weinberg proves adept at know when to scale way back to the sparsest of sparse writing.  Weinberg seems to throw everything in, with hints of DSCH and Berg, some klezmer music, some sparse brass writing, and a direct quotation from Chopin's First Ballade.  The second appearance is stark, slow, and moving.  It's a kitchen sink approach, more even than Mahler, and it works.  And that's just the first movement.  The Allegro molto is much more aggressive, and though direct quotations are not used, it calls to mind Stravinsky's Symphony in Three Movements in places.  The slow Largo is even more desolate than the opening movement, and then the Presto is a souped-up, even more disparately influenced Mahler-style Scherzo.  The concluding Lento starts off fiercely, backs off to still tense music where a soprano delivers a wordless part that curiously sounds like a boy soprano rather than a woman.  More Chopin, more unusual instrumental mixes, including the addition of a harmonium, and a generally bleak tone follows as the work ends on a quiet note.  The whole thing is sort of a grab bag of music.  It works well on its own terms, but I don't see myself listening to this as frequently as Mahler's best.

Truth to tell, the real reason I got this disc was for the conductor.  I wanted to hear if Gražinytė-Tyla can wave a stick properly.  She can.  She did get a pretty good gig in Birmingham, so that's no surprise.  While these works and performances are up to snuff, I want to hear what she can do in core rep.  Doesn't matter what.  I also would like to hear what she can do in contemporary fare.  Doesn't matter what.  She just needs to record something else post-haste. 

When I bought this disc, the high res download was cheaper than the physical release.  DG engineers deliver fine 24/96 sound.  I suspect the CD sounds the same.
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Offline Todd

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Re: "New" Music Log
« Reply #433 on: May 26, 2019, 04:09:33 AM »



From the DHM long box, some motets from Pachelbel and two lesser Bachs.  Stylistically similar - attractively melodic, light, clear, and often upbeat - the collection of works is successful start to finish, with one caveat.  Countertenors are used instead of women to fill the alto roles.  I always prefer women up high, and that holds here, but a lot of the time it doesn't really matter much.  I couldn't help but notice that I tended to prefer Pachelbel's works more than those from the Bach boys, but all are nice.  Superb sound.
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Offline Todd

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Re: "New" Music Log
« Reply #434 on: June 01, 2019, 04:47:34 AM »



[This will be cross-posted in The Asian Invasion]


Most of my listening for The Asian Invasion has been geared toward CKJ artists.  But there's more to the continent than those three countries.  Thanks to the seeming randomness of Amazon Add-on discounts, something from a Iranian composer caught my eye.  For a few measly bucks, why not try something from another extra-ancient civilization, I thought.  I mean, some of Karol Szymanowski's best work is inspired by Persian poetry, so there must be something else out there to inspire.  Amir Mahyar Tafreshipour is a name new to me.  He identifies with the land of his birth and early childhood, but he is also steeped in the ways of the West, so he is uniquely positioned to offer a hybrid approach.  He also penned the liner notes, so the lucky reader is not beholden to possible misinterpretations by an another author of the composer's intent.  Another Iranian, Alexander Rahbari, conducts the ECO in the main work.  It has been many, many moons since I heard it, but Mr Rahbari has conducted some Debussy for Naxos in the past, so he, too, knows east and west.  As it happens, Rahbari also composes, and Naxos will be releasing a disc of his music in the very near future.

The disc opens with the title piece.  I set the volume knob about where I typically do, and that ended up a problem at the start as the harp is miked way too close and bursts forth with a boldness I don't typically associate with the instrument.  As the three movement concerto moves along, it ends up being basically a modernist concerto in three movements, with a conventional fast-slow-fast approach.  The solo part could have been a violin or piano or whatever.  That's not to say that the music isn't good, because it is; rather, I don't really hear the special value of the harp, specifically.  Tafreshipour clearly knows both Iranian music and Western music, because both are obvious, and Western music dominates.  The Eastern components sound attractive and lend what I'll describe as quasi-exotic feel to the music.  The remaining structure, textures, instrumentation, and so forth, evoke music I've heard before.  The names Bartok and Mahler came to mind more than thrice, especially in the dissonant string writing. The harp ends up working most effectively in the Tranquillo second movement, and in the third movement, soloist Gabriella Dall'Olio demonstrates what I have to gather are impressive chops as she strums away at widely divergent dynamic levels, including almost ridiculously quiet and sweet pianissimo arpeggios.  There's a lot to enjoy here, and if I know this will not receives many spins, it was certainly good to hear.

The next work is the quintet Alas.  It almost immediately brought to mind Berg's Chamber Concerto and Messiaen's Quartet for the End of Time, though it does sound different than either and decidedly contemporary.  Unabashedly so.  The piano part serves a sort of anchor, and there's precious little in the way of light or charming melodies, something reinforced by the other instruments.  That's not meant as criticism, because there's something more immediately gripping, something more vital in the music.  It's sophisticated and appealing, but not simply beautiful for the sake of beauty. 

The last two pieces are briefer works.  The trio Lucid Dreams for harp, cello, and violin is as unabashedly modern as Alas.  The basically rhapsodic piece unfolds in a sort of organized chaos way, sometimes sounding attractive, especially with the strings, and sometimes astringent.  And here the harp generates a sort of crazy guitar sound here and there.  Cool.  The disc closes with Yearning in C.  Influenced by childhood memories of Scandinavia and largely improvisational (which I hope means it could sound different in person), it is a continuously unfolding work that sounds close enough to older forms of music while being much more modern.  This is precisely the type of work I would love to hear in a chamber recital of some sort as an opener. 

So, overall, this is a successful disc.  The headline work is the most "conservative" of the bunch and the least compelling.  When Tafreshipour goes for something more abstract, his music is even better.  I don't know if I'll actively hunt down more works by him, but if I stumble across something else, I know his style and I will buy with confidence.

Sound quality is excellent, and all performing artists do excellent work.
« Last Edit: June 01, 2019, 05:43:55 AM by Todd »
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Offline Todd

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Re: "New" Music Log
« Reply #435 on: June 09, 2019, 04:28:33 AM »



Here's a disc of 21st Century choral works that I had no expectations for when I snapped it up.  I don't recall even having seen the name Phillipe Manoury before, though I may have, but I most definitely have seen the name, and listened to recordings from, Laurence Equilbey and Accentus.  The works, based on works as old as the philosophy of Heraclitus and as recent as the purpose written texts of Daniela Langer, all have a modern take on old time choral writing vibe.  There's polyphony aplenty, with multiple voices massed together while others weave different melodic strands throughout.  There's a dissonant, nearly (faux-) chaotic sound at times.  It's entertaining, and it can best be described as Ligeti light.  Not bad, not great, and well performed and recorded.
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Offline Todd

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Re: "New" Music Log
« Reply #436 on: June 16, 2019, 04:55:59 AM »



Augusta Read Thomas is a name I've seen many times, but until now, I'd never listened to any of her music.  This disc contains eight diverse works, and one movement from another work, on one fairly brief disc.  It seemed like a nice way to sample both her music specifically, and a bunch of works from this very century.

The disc opens with the nine minute Radiant Circles.  At times very bright, and purposely so, and loaded with hefty percussion, one can hear a lot of influences (Ligeti, Berio, Ruggles maybe, etc) but a personal voice.  It's modern and not tuneful, and while dissonant, it's not harsh.  Alas, the University of Illinois Orchestra does not sound as though it has the best string or brass or winds in the world, and at times it seems like the music is missing some impact.  I have to think when Pierre Boulez led some of Ms Thomas' works in Chicago the results were more satisfactory.  The second piece is the movement Prayer-Star Dust Orbits from Resounding Earth, for Percussion Quartet. There's a lot of bells ringing in this piece, which sounds intrinsically aleatoric and comes off as a sort of super wind chime for its nine minute duration.  It's nice enough, but I don't see myself listening to it a whole lot.  Juggler of Day for women's chorus sets Emily Dickinson's brief text in a short six-and-a-half minute span.  Each line is layered, with different parts singing over and around one another.  It manages to marry hints of old style polyphonic delivery with contemporary voice blending, sort of like a 16th Century Spaniard and a modern Russian somehow mushed their music together.  The light, bright, fun Capricci for Flute and Clarinet follows, and really, it's a charming piece.  Twilight Butterfly, from 2013, for Mezzo and Piano is a fairly attractive song and sort of keeps with the feeling of the collection. 

Then comes a doozy: Bells Ring Summer for solo cello.  Originally written for David Finckel, this short piece is a scorching, tight, taut work, until the last fifth or so.  I would certainly like to hear how the dedicatee plays it.  Euterpe's Caprice, a two minute fanfare for solo flute (its actual title), is back to lighter fare, and sounds fun.  This is followed by Pulsar, for solo violin, which sounds as though it could be an extended cadenza for a violin concerto.  Finally comes the closer, the title track, Astral Canticle.  A double concerto for flute and violin, the piece opens with the violin, moves via some overlap to the flute, and then blends in an instrument or two from the orchestra here or there, for a couple minutes before the brass enter.  While a concerto for the two main instruments, there's also a concerto for orchestra sound to it, as other sections move in and out of the picture, gradually building to a tutti as the piece draws to a close.  The piece manages to be both unabashedly contemporary yet entirely approachable.  Again, though, one wonders what A-listers might deliver.  Daniel Barenboim conducted the Chicagoans in the first performance.  I'd have to think the full impact of the piece could be heard with those forces. 

The disc is a success overall, but the takeaway for me is that I want to hear the big works played by world class ensembles, and that solo cello piece needs to cycle into the solo repertoire. 
The universe is change; life is opinion. - Marcus Aurelius, Meditations

Everything dies - Alien Bounty Hunter, The X-Files

Everyone dies - William Barr, United States Attorney General