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Tuesday, April 26, 2022

Palaver Strings, Ready or Not, Music for Strings By Women Composers


Music unfolds for us in our lifetime, should we be so inclined, into the infinitude that it always has been. It seems like in my experience the period leading up to the present has been chock full of the most diverse and influential music accessible for us perhaps as never before, should we take the trouble to explore it all. Today is no different, at least for me. So I get rolling this morning with an album that breaks new ground in its eclectic desire to cover as much New and/or worthwhile Early Music as possible as vividly realized by a state-of-the-art string orchestra.

It is a fine and refreshingly unique program of Early-to-Modern music by women composers covering a broad swatch of possibilities with things we are fortunate to hear now as played with a good deal of imagination and focus by the orchestra known as Palaver Strings. The album, appropriately dubbed Ready or Not (Azica Records ACD-71342), keeps a tonal center regardless of the work and then covers a sort of Early-to-Post-Modern realm of folkish palate-freshening in a number of guises.

Grazyna Bacewicz's "Concerto for String Orchestra" opens the program with an energetic three-movement vibrancy of Polish rootedness. It is one of Bacewicz's strongest such works, a stunning presentation that rings out and rings in simultaneously. 

Beyond that we have Maddelina Casulana's miniature folk harmonic "Non puo il mio cuore" as arranged by Jesse MacDonald. From there we go on to a touching minor-feelingful-dirgish "Lagrime mie" by Barbara Strozzi as arranged by Adam Jacob Simon. Mezzo-soprano Sophie Michaux takes a stunning lead in this songful poeticism.

Akenya Seymour brings a very lively folk-jazzishness to her three movement "Fear the Lamb." Poignant blues reworking and stunning extensions of harmonic movement make for an exciting Third Stream wonderment that wears well and feels virtually-effortlessly authentic in its own way.

The three part folk fiddling influenced "Treehouse/Jig for John #2/Fore Street" by Liz Knowles/ Elizabeth Moore has stunning earthiness and sheer joy. It closes out the program in ways one could not imagine being topped, a wonderful end. 

The full-blown sympathy of Palaver Strings to the put-forward newness and/or evergreen foundations of the works make for an ideal present immediacy. I give you encouragement to hear this one, and I recommend it highly. Download and CD are available now. Either way it is something consistently worthwhile and refreshing. .

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