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Thursday, March 14, 2013

Michael Mauldin, The Last Musicians of UR, CD Single

When something works for you musically, it emanates with a feeling of inner satisfaction. Some folks just affirm that feeling and go on. Reviewers have to ask themselves why.

The satisfaction in my case is about Michael Mauldin's The Last Musician of UR (Navona 5891), as performed by the Moravian Philharmonic under Petr Vronsky. It's a seven-minute work and the disk that results is a CD single of short duration.

There's a back story to the music. Ten years ago looters damaged the Gold Lyre of UR, said to be the oldest stringed instrument extant, while plummeting the Iraq Museum in Baghdad. Andrew Lowings, an English harpist, set about to recreate a working version.

Mauldin's orchestral work was composed with this harp in mind. He sets about imagining the last-ever harpist of UR and what he might have played, what he might have thought.

The ensuing orchestral work has, understandably, a prominent harp part which is quite lovely. The work itself is in the best sort of "tonal exotica" mode. One of the impressionists might have written it--or Hovhaness, even more so.

It's a beautiful little work. The list price on this baby is $2.99 and I think you'll find it well worth your coinage for the pleasure it brings. Mauldin did something you should hear!


  1. Thanks for the review! Since it was almost 10 years ago today when the original Gold Lyre of Ur was damaged, I want to note that the piece was written as a gift to the Iraqi National Symphony. Because of conditions there, the piece has yet to be premiered. But the conductor moved to the USA (for his own safety) and says he may get to premiere it with one of the groups he guest-conducts.--Michael Mauldin

  2. Thank you Michael for your very informative comments. I hope the conductor of the Iraqi National Symphony has the opportunity to conduct it very soon, and that the orchestra can return to normalcy even sooner. That is a tragic story. Thankfully the music is of such beauty that his own premiere will transcend the strife that jeopardizes the existence of some of what makes humanity great. Thank you from all of us for writing it!
    Grego Edwards