Thursday, December 15, 2016

Unseen Rain: Music by Robert Kyr - Threefold Vision (Three Motets for Three Voices) - Songs of the Shining Wind (for Three Voices, Lute & Vielle) - Unseen Rain (for Three Voices, Chorus & Instruments) - Ensemble Project Ars Nova - Back Bay Chorale - Ensemble P.A.N. New Albion 1994

This was my introduction to Robert Kyr (I heard the last work on the disc, "Unseen Rain" on a late night radio show and was mesmerized) and my first Kyr purchase. Interestingly, as this recording opens, with "Threefold Visions" it will automatically appeal to lovers of early music - 14th century polyphony specifically. Indeed, the works here had I said nothing at all would come as quite the surprise for anyone who only checked out the Violin Concerto Trilogy post. One could describe the music here as "authentic-contemporary-14th-century music" which, I'm sure, has never been said (at least not this precise wording). More than a few modern composers have found inspiration from the Medieval and Renaissance periods, the most obvious example perhaps being the great Estonian Arvo Part. I love early music and highly admire Robert Kyr's music - so this release is a win-win, double-happiness type of experience for me. Still it is "Unseen Rain" which steers clear of the archaic that I most enjoy here.

"Songs of the Shining Winds" continues the journey through musical antiquity, for three voices once again with the addition of one lute and one vielle (a stringed instrument from Medieval times). It's a lovely excursion, a satisfying and flawless composition to my ears. Truly and utterly flawless, it must be mentioned, are the performances throughout the entire program. This is high artistry, the deepest possible understanding of the various musics - and a love for them.

(I know this is obvious - or should be - but please support the artists, composers and labels
that I share here when possible; buy Kyr's music from amazon or anywhere so long as you do!!)

This I pasted from Robert Kyr's website: 
It's just a blurb, but it concerns the piece that drew me to this New Albion jewel.


"Unseen Rain" was commissioned by the Chase Foundation in celebration of the 75th Anniversary of the Longy School of Music (Cambridge, Massachusetts). Even before choosing the texts, I decided to compose a work for many more singers than instrumentalists, which would include as many members of the Longy community as possible. I wanted the vocalists to dominate the attention of the listeners and to be the dramatic focus of the work.

The Chase Foundation also specified that the texts were to be "in celebration of music" and must not be too somber or grim in general tone. Early in my search, it became clear that the twentieth century would probably not yield poetic texts of this nature. I wanted to find epigrammatic, haiku-like texts which were filled with simple words and direct images. Fortunately, I found some beautiful translations of Rumi's quatrains (short poems of four lines each) and after reading at least 500 of them, I set about the task of creating a celebratory musical drama from the general collection.

The work fell into three parts: in the first, "The Prophet's Quatrains," the countertenor is a prophet beseeching the community (the chorus) to remain awake throughout the night in order to fully experience the joys of music; in the second, "The Lovers' Quatrains," the soprano and tenor are lovers rejoicing in the similarities between love and music; and in the third, "A Communal Affirmation," the prophet and the lovers join the chorus to proclaim the spiritual power of music ("Listen to the unstruck sounds, and what sifts through that music..."). The title of the work is an image taken from one of Rumi's quatrains - it relates to the end of the piece, when what has been hidden (unseen/unheard) finally becomes apparent. The Persian word for "Unseen Rain" also refers to "grace". [Excerpt from the liner notes.]

-I can try to post the liner notes at some point, but they are quite lengthy!



Mark said...

Wonderful, and anything with Shira Kammen on it has to be great.

cjvinthechair said...

Another really special upload, thank you so much !

Tzadik said...

That's true Mark! Thank you for commenting.


Tzadik said...

Cjv your are as always most welcome! You *think* you don't have this one, but knowing you I bet at some point you will find your earlier copy ;-)