Classical CD Reviews

“Wine Dark Sea” = JOCELYN MORLOCK: Three Meditations on Light; BALJINDER SEKHON: Drifting Seeds; GLENN BUHR: A monk, dancing – Ariel Barnes, cello/Heidi Krutzen, harp – Ravello

This Canadian duo offers some relaxing fare.

Published on December 14, 2013

“Wine Dark Sea” = JOCELYN MORLOCK: Three Meditations on Light; BALJINDER SEKHON: Drifting Seeds; GLENN BUHR: A monk, dancing – Ariel Barnes, cello/Heidi Krutzen, harp – Ravello

“Wine Dark Sea” = JOCELYN MORLOCK: Three Meditations on Light; BALJINDER SEKHON: Drifting Seeds; GLENN BUHR: A monk, dancing – Ariel Barnes, cello/Heidi Krutzen, harp – Ravello Records RR7879, 47:32 [Distr. by Naxos] ***:

I have never heard of “Couloir”, the harp and cello duo from Canada, before nor any of this music. (Although I know I’ve heard one or two things from Jocelyn Morlock) This album exists in that very pleasant but hard to define somewhere between what has been too casually described as “New Age” and “contemporary classical.” None the less, it does make for a very nice listening experience.

First, the combination of cello and harp is an unusual one to be sure but it makes for some wonderful sonority and the timbres blend nicely. In particular, Ariel Barnes and Heidi Krutzen are both very fine players with wonderful tone and they play with a genuine symbiosis. I imagine that they sound very good under all circumstances and no matter what they’re playing.

To the music, itself; as I said, I do not know much about these composers. Jocelyn Morlock is composer-in-residence at the Music on Main series in Vancouver. She seems like a very eclectic individual and her own music runs the gamut from the very kinetic and “experimental” such as her Icarus Landing to the some Balinese- influenced material like I Love Paul Klee. In the present Three Meditations on Light the tone is soft and meditative but each movement does depict aspects of breaking light as in the dawn, as in bioluminescence (like algae) and, then, in waning. I did enjoy this work a great deal.

Baljinder Sekhon is completely new to me. He is a composer and percussionist from Tampa who does write a number of works involving percussion and/or with electronics. Drifting Seeds explores relationships between individuals and society (as the composer describes it) and as expressed in the varying timbres, tempos and tonal centers of this work. This piece has some percussive effect in both instruments and I rather enjoyed the variety within the score. I discovered his Compass for viola and percussion, online, which I also found quite interesting.

Glenn Buhr is another Canadian composer who has a history with the Winnipeg Symphony (I think I have heard one of his works in that context).  A monk, dancing is a piece that has a very sincere meditative quality to it and just occasionally develops into a forward-leaning raga pattern. Buhr has commented that this work is intended to evoke dance or the desire to break free from solitude and dance. (He considers this an analogy to the life of a composer) This present work does have a very “eastern” quality to it that I found interesting. Listening to excerpts of his music on his website shows that he is a pretty eclectic writer whose music can evoke jazz (like his Thru the Wounded Sky) as well as some very ethereal fare, like his Winter Poems for orchestra.

Although I enjoyed the Morlock work the best, all three of these pieces is quite enjoyable and the duo “Couloir” is very entertaining and impressive to listen to. In fact, I think that one could enjoy this set without knowing anything about the works or composers involved; just as a pleasant listening experience.

—Daniel Coombs




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