March 1, 2011

Lisa Bielawa is a major new voice in music, and this two-disc set contains some of the most blindingly beautiful and original works I have heard in a while. Time Out New York describes Bielawa as possessing a “prodigious gift for mingling persuasive melodicism with organic experimentation,” and that well captures my feelings. Her In medias res (Concerto for Orchestra) combines traditional harmonies with shifting tonalities. The innovative Double Violin Concerto features a portion for voice, and unfinish’d, sent is simply beautiful music for voice, in this case the composer’s own. Disc 2 contains the 15 Synopses, each a short (3-7 minutes) piece for a single performer, the instruments ranging from piccolo to violin to trumpet to drum set plus voice. It all suggests that there is no limit to Bielawa’s imagination.

I have nothing but praise for all the performers, but wish to single out Gil Rose and his Boston Modern Orchestra Project for their efforts, and their ability to present new music to new ears. The sound, as on previous BMOP SACDs, has clarity, presence, and power, without artifice or excessive ambience.