The moody works take advantage of the colors inherent in the ensemble--flute, string quartet or trio, percussion (including marimba), piano, plus clarinet and electronics on the title work.
"This is the hour of lead" comes to grips with death and loss and consequent feelings of anger, grief and acceptance. "The Quality of Mercy" deals with reconciliation.
Both are expressive, evocative and sometimes rather stoically restrained. The music is advanced tonal with stylistic variability in the musical events and their nature. There are occasional ostinatos at work but for the most part this music encompasses both high and post-modern tendencies in an original language that constitutes a very personal hybrid.
The five movement "lead" centers around an elaborate vocalise with surrounding interludes bringing out contrasting emotional states.
The title work makes use of elements of plainchant, "The Merchant of Venice," urban sound environments and birdsong for a full interaction of processed sounds with chamber ensemble colors. To make that connection more palpable the electronics principally arise in a live setting in response to the instruments.
"Cirque" is high-modernist abstract and breaks up the longer works well.
Castillo has a vibrant feel for complexes of sound that have a narrative quality, a poetic demeanor, a superior sense of dramatic color weaving that makes for some very moving chamber music.
It is a fine introduction to Patrick Castillo the composer. One only hopes we can be exposed to more of his work soon. In the meantime this is a ravishing performance of some very interesting and moody poetics. Bravo!