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Thursday, March 27, 2014

Smoke & Mirrors, Vanish

From the percussion group Smoke & Mirrors comes Vanish (Yarlung 15195) and their program of nine quite varied compositions and arrangements. In many ways this album is an exemplar of what has been happening on the edges of modernism-into-postmodernism. The music, mostly in a tonal vein, sports some especially excellent mallet work, but all members of the percussion family are represented.

The nine works include those by Avner Dorman, Diego Schissi, Ernest Toch, Derek Tywoniuk, Sergei Rachmaninov, Mark Appelbaum, Alejandro Vinao and Toru Takemitsu.

The Takemitsu piece is a full-blown tone poem for five percussion soloists and symphony orchestra, with the participation of the Colburn Orchestra under Gerard Schwarz. It is a beautiful later work by the Japanese master filled with orchestral color and varied percussion solos and cadenzas.

The two brief Rachmaninov works are reworkings of his music for the Orthodox Church, arranged for marimba ensemble. They sound lovely and surprisingly suited sonorously for such treatment.

Beyond that there is a wealth of moods and modes, from Dorman's bluesy-eastern work for marimbas, Schissi's tonal-modern full ensemble rhapsody, Tywoniuk's pomo work of bell-like color and rock undertones, and so forth.

All is well played and retains listener interest through the wide range of works and the varied sound worlds presented. It is highly engaging and rather delightful. Recommended for those percussion afficianados out there and for those who like rhythmic tonal music that speaks to us today.

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