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Monday, October 29, 2012

Mark Vigil, The Palest Rose

Surprises come in all sorts of ways. Today's came in the mail. The cover makes it seem like a new age album. It isn't. I am speaking of Oregon composer Mark Vigil's The Palest Rose (Ravello 7847). It's a compendium of his music for chamber aggregates and a couple for Gamelan orchestra.

I suppose you could say there's some of the impressionist in his music. There's a brightness, a lyricism, a refracted quality. It's mostly diatonic-modal, a music of tranquility yet not without vigor, quite accessible. There are three works for solo piano, the two "Fantasies for Solo Piano" have more adventurous harmonic-melodic content, a sort of modernism, than much of the other music on this disk. There are two "Trios for Flute, Viola and Harp," and a "Trio for Violin, Clarinet and Harp," all quite ravishing in a straightforward way.

The two Gamelan pieces have a Javanese sound to them. "Elizabeth" adds a woman's chorus that gives the work a more "east meets west" quality.

It's all very fetching music, skillfully crafted with an ear toward expressive simplicity, yet artful, like a Whitman's Sampler box. There are many that will find in this music a consolation for some rough days, with the touch of a genuinely talented composer. Relax and listen.

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