AUGUSTA READ THOMAS (b.1964): Aureole (De Paul Symphony Orchestra; Cliff Colnot), Words of the Sea (Chicago Symphony Orchestra; Pierre Boulez), In My Sky at Twilight for Soprano and Ensemble, Carillon Sky for Violin and Ensemble (Christine Brandes [soprano], Baird Dodge [violin], Chicago Symphony Orchestra MusicNOW Ensemble; Boulez, Oliver Knussen [Sky]), Terpsichore's Dream for Chamber Orchestra (Chamber Orchestra; Colnot), Silver Chants the Litanies for Horn and 18 Players (Greg Heustis [horn], SMU Wind Ensemble; Jack Delaney).
Catalogue Number: 05P090
Reference: NI 6258
Description: Thomas is a distinctive voice in American music, working in an idiom in which rich harmony, usually based firmly around tonal centers, is a constant feature, coupled with lively, restless rhythmic energy and bright, colorful instrumentation. Words of the Sea, four orchestral movements suggested by phrases from a poem by Wallace Stevens, is an evocative portrait of the many moods of the sea, sparkling in sunlight, ominous and menacing, lashed by storm, becalmed. The combination of urgent energy and burnished lyricism that pervades Thomas' seascapes is dramatically present in the song-cycle, setting texts about many aspects of love by sixteen different poets. The work's quicksilver changes of mood drive it forward and suggest the intense light and shadow of constantly evolving chiaroscuro. As the title suggests, Terpsichore's dream is in constant, dancing motion, an ecstatic imaginary ballet depicted in brilliant colors. The horn concerto is dedicated to Berio's memory, and shares something of his vivid sense of orchestral color, also distinctly evoking Mahler from the very opening bars, while the shimmering, translucent music of the violin concerto has an airy, ethereal quality, the resonances of the title's bells in the air, rather than the bells themselves.