ECLIPSE = Chamber music by Mischa Zupko – Sang Mee Lee (v.)/ Wendy Warner (c.)/ Mischa Zupko (p.) – Cedille

A wonderment of shades of color infatuate this fascinating composer’s music.

“ECLIPSE – Chamber music by Mischa Zupko” = Rising; Fallen; From Twilight; Eclipse; Nebula; Shades of Grey; Love Obsession – Sang Mee Lee, violin/ Wendy Warner, cello/ Mischa Zupko, piano – Cedille CDR 90000 168, 67:45 [Distr. by Naxos] ***1/2:

This is my first encounter with the music of Chicago composer Mischa Zupko, and the experience has been, overall, an enticing one. Of course, here the scope is rather limited in the restrictive but always engaging piano trio format, and is does allow one to explore the creative impulses of a composer as he or she traverses a single medium.

Altogether, as a summary, I must say that I find the music rather muscular, dark, hard-hitting in its use of many singular melodic elements and repetitive motives, with a fine sense of coloration and dramatic impulse. I’ll leave it to you to explore the “meanings” behind the titled pieces, as such things are interesting from the standpoint of what initially inspires the composer, but are often tricky to duplicate in a listener’s own perceptions. (We certainly hear—or see—the sunrise in Strauss’s Zarathustra, but do we really hear the antics of Don Juan?)

I will say that the final piece here—Love Obsession—is the highlight of the disc for me, a ten-minute gorgeous exploration of unending pursuit of an idea and ideal, brilliantly carried off by the performers with seriousness of intent and engaged, nonstop persistency in portraying something that, ultimately, eludes portrayal!

I look forward to hearing more music in more formats by this composer, but this delightful introduction in my favorite chamber music form is well worth following by anyone interested in “what’s happenin’” Chicago way. Great sound to compliment the readings.

—Steven Ritter

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