SACD & Other Hi-Res Reviews

DAVID FELDER: “Inner Sky” = various works – Soloists & Slee Sinfonietta – Albany (CD + Blu-ray)

A challenging yet rewarding listening experience.

Published on July 13, 2013

DAVID FELDER: “Inner Sky” = Rare Air; Blews; Tweener; Canzone XXXI; Rare Air: Boxmunsdottir; Requiescat; Inner Sky; Rocket Summer; Incendio; Rare Air: Boxmunsson; Dionysiacs;  Rare Air: Aria Da Capo – Slee Sinfonietta Ch. Orch., James Baker, Magnus Martensson, Brad Lubman, James Avery, June in Buffalo Festival Brass, Jean Kopperud, Stephen Gosling, Tom Kolor, Magnus Andersson, Mario Caroli, Ian Pace – Albany multichannel Pure Audio Blu-ray TROY 1418 (90:04) + CD (54:14) (Distributed by Albany) [6-11-13] ****:

This disc is a challenge to listen to and to write about. The works presented are modern and dissonant. They will not be to everyone’s taste. David Felder, born in 1953, writes chamber, choral, electronic and symphonic music. He has received a number of grants and commissions throughout his career and has taught composition at the University of Buffalo.

The 2-disc set from Albany is a first for me. One disc is a Blu-ray disc with multichannel audio. The only visual supplement are titles for each track. Then the screen goes to deep black. Disc 2 is standard CD with some of the same works, mixed for 2-channel stereo. Disc 2 is not as complete as disc 1, and some of the disc 1 titles required multi channel playback and were thus deemed not appropriate for a standard stereo CD.

The music is performed by a small chamber group, often augmented by electronic instruments.  This review will focus on the Blu-ray disc, as it as the highest fidelity and provides the surround channels that some of the selections were composed for.

Among the highlights of the disc are Rocket Summer, inspired by the first chapter of the late Ray Bradbury’s Martian Chronicles, with pianist Ian Pace. I was also taken with the massed directional brass choirs in Canzone XXXI. Although the piece appears on both discs, the surround presentation is far more dramatic.

Also noteworthy is  the album’s title, Inner Sky, composed in 1994, scored for flute, percussion, piano and strings, accompanied by computer-generated instruments. Here again, the surround mix adds a great deal to the presentation.

The performers do very well with music that is technically difficult and takes a great deal of skill because of the challenging syncopation. As a sonic presentation, the disc is enveloping and puts you into a musical environment that will be strange, but ultimately fascinating.

This is not a disc to put on for a casual listen, or as background music. It will require your attention, but ultimately, it is rewarding for the exploration of these unique sonic creations. The disc is only recommended if you have a Blu-ray player to access the multichannel mixes. [The thinking behind this is that the penetration of Blu-ray players is higher than that of SACD and universal players...Ed.]

—Mel Martin




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