Instant Replay: 041
Back-to-school energy, vibrant piano pieces, and tracks just right for an autumn drive with the windows down... this month's Instant Replay sets us on the right track for the beginning of fall!
Lisa Edwards-Burrs, EcoSono Ensemble — Matthew Burtner: You Sink into the Singing Snow
I was immediately captivated by this opening piece from Alaskan composer Matthew Burtner's “Icefields” (which is also part of his IDEA award-winning opera, Auksalaq). Performed by the EcoSono Ensemble and featuring soaring vocals from Lisa Edwards-Burrs, it brings traditional instruments and environmental field recordings together in a beautifully structured musical allegory about recognizing and respecting our place in the natural balance.
Grateful Dead — Touch of Grey
"The rent is in arrears. The dog has not been fed in years. It's even worse than it appears, but it's alright." As the world continues its relentless slide toward apocalyptic disorder, I'm kept buoyant by songs that are both uplifting and irreverent. The Grateful Dead's 1987 classic, "Touch of Grey," tops the list. The Dead Head anthem hitches you aboard with its driving rhythm. An insistently jubilant keyboard hook lifts the whole train higher and higher. If you're not feeling it, "Sorry that you feel that way. The only thing there is to say, every silver lining's got a touch of grey."
Eric Johnson — Cliffs of Dover
I spent the summer working in the Rockies, and this was my summer soundtrack. The whole album is great, but there's something about coming 'round a bend in the road and cruising down Independence Pass as Cliffs of Dover plays and the wind whips through your hair... so exhilarating!
Madison Cunningham — Hospital
I feel like I’ve been waiting my entire life for an album like Madison Cunningham’s “Revealer,” so naturally I’m making up for lost time now that it’s finally out. In my favorite track, “Hospital,” Cunningham searches for a cure for being chronically online.
The Drunk Monkeys — Swathe
September brings to me an inextricable “back to school” feeling, even though I’m not in school these days. Something about the month imparts a Pavlovian feeling of change and nostalgia for those old school days. I cite Boston’s own Drunk Monkeys as the preeminent stewards of this “figuring out life as a young kid living in Boston” sentiment through music. The opening track of their 2018 album is just the swathe of both dreamlike abstraction and youthful optimism to depict this September-ism.
Maria Thompson Corley — Soulscapes 2: Piano Music by Women of African Descent"
My September pick is the entire album titled "Soulscapes 2: Piano Music by Women of African Descent." (Ed.: the track linked above is the first on the album.)
I know, I know — it seems that if it's piano I am automatically drawn to it... but the variety of the music and the highest-caliber playing kept me there. You'll recognize the name of composer Florence Price on this album, but there are wonderful pieces by composers with whom you may not be familiar. Maria Thompson Corley plays them all with precision and heart.
City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, Mirga Gražinytė-Tyla — Weinberg: Symphony No. 3: I. Allegro
Weinberg is one of those rare composers who can seamlessly move between light and shadow, almost without our ears knowing that it’s happening. Like Schubert’s “Unfinished” Symphony, Weinberg’s Third is inviting and warm at first, only to evolve into an intense emotional journey. Unlike Schubert, though, Weinberg endured an experience of the Soviet Union that roughly paralleled that of his friend Shostakovich. In their second Deutsche Grammophon release of Weinberg’s symphonic works, the CBSO and Gražinytė-Tyla are quickly becoming among the most powerful advocates for a composer I hope we’ll hear more and more often.
The Roches — Runs in the Family
Sibling groups always have the best harmonies, and there's something about the way the Roches' voices fit together that screams "fall" to me. The spare accompaniment and offbeat lyrics add a sense of foreboding. It's an entire intergenerational family drama miniseries wrapped up in a 3 minute song. How's that for some fall binge watching?
Listen to the September playlist: