Gapplegate Classical-Modern Music Review: Mark Abel, Spectrum

In the ongoing cycles of seasons, events, living and keeping on in my position I can be rather amazed at the sheer number of new composers, less-known composers and new music possibilities one can appreciate in any given season. A very good example I have been delving into? That is chamber music and song by one Mark Abel, in an album entitled Spectrum (Delos DE 3592 2CDs). Type his name in the search box above and you will see he has been a good example of a lyrical bent for some time.

Listening to this set numerous times reveals a composer of lyrical gifts, a crafter of vibrant melodic-harmonic landscapes of a ravishing sort, perhaps in the footsteps but not the actual shoes of a Samuel Barber (the Knoxville and such). There are some extraordinarily well-wrought song cycles and settings here, all showing a sure sense of the vocal potentials; dramatic and lyric, with heighten musical light like a contemporary sort of Impressionist pallete, for vocalist and pianist and added instruments at times, such as very evocative clarinet on “Two Scenes from the Book of Esther.”

And then happily there are also some strong instrumental chamber works that show a marked lyrical gift, from the melodically mesmerizing “Reconciliation Day” for viola and piano, “Out the Other Side” for piano trio, and the “Long March” for horn, flute and piano.

The performances are all you might hope for in a world premiere situation, very well done.

You will probably not think, “What an advanced progressive music is this!” so  much as you will appreciate the sheer beauty of it all. You listen, you grow fond of it, or I hope you like I do. Do not miss this happy set if you want a lyrical smile to brighten you up.


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