Mara Gibson:  Sky Born – Navona Records

Mara Gibson:  Sky Born – – The Cascade Quartet/Holly Roadfeldt piano/ Michael Hall, viola/ Megan Ihnen/ mezzo-soprano – Navona Records NV6128 TT:55:00  (11/10/17) *** 1/2

A fine recording snd performance of contemporary music by and up and coming composer 

Sky Born is a second offering from contemporary composer Mara Gibson, and if you like contemporary music it’s worth seeking out.

Ms. Gibson has worked at UMKC Conservatory of Music and Dance for over ten years and will also be teaching this fall at Louisiana State University this year. Gibson’s album features compositions performed by UMKC fellow faculty members, the Cascade Quartet, violist Michael Hall, mezzo-soprano Megan Ihnen, and pianist Holly Roadfeldt. Gibson drew her inspiration from a variety of artistic mediums. The piano preludes, which are interspersed throughout the album, were inspired by paintings from Jim Condron, each piece extracting a haunting soundtrack from a series of abstract art. Gibson also uses poems as the foundation for her compositions.

The first track on the disc, called Blackbird, is based on Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird, a poem by Wallace Stevens. Though influenced by literary works, the entire disc has energy and emotion that will grab listeners and involve them.

The audio quality on the CD from Navona is quite good, and the Cascade Quartet is certainly up to the task of getting Ms. Gibson’s music across to the listener.

I wish that Navona had offered an SACD of this disc, but they are offering some high resolution downloads.

Sounds are quite directional at times, with a pleasing center fill. Low bass is solid and never smears, and the strings are smooth and well recorded.

This is a disc that demands attention, and I think listeners will be amply rewarded with a memorable musical experience. It’s not for everyone, more dissonant than strictly melodic, but I enjoyed it and will find repeat listens enjoyable.

Track List:

01  Blackbird (2015)  15:27
Cascade Quartet

02  Conundrums: Prelude 1:  For Saturday (2016)  3:10
Holly Roadfeldt piano

03  Conundrums: Prelude 2:  The few miracles attributed to the angel showed a certain mental disorder (2016)  2:28
Holly Roadfeldt piano
04  Spark (2014)  7:51
JoDee Davis trombone  Trevor Thornton & Emily Trapp piano

05 Conundrums: Prelude 3:  I have saved all my ribbons for thee (2016)  2:05
Holly Roadfeldt piano

06  Conundrums: Prelude 4: The bones becoming light (2016)  3:01
Holly Roadfeldt piano

07  Folium cubed (2015)  5:46
Zachary Shemon soprano saxophone

08  Sky-Born (2015)  5:00
UMKC Conservatory Singers | Robert Bode conductor
Vicki Olson, Melissa Edwards, Lorissa Sampson, Mindy Guidroz,
Michael Patch, Matt Wilson, Joshua Maize & Thou Yang singers
Samuel Huang, Elaine Ng violins
Esther Seitz cello

09  Conundrums: Prelude 5: I have tried in my way to be free (2016)  1:19
Holly Roadfedlt piano

10  Conundrums: Prelude 6: Home is a failed idea (2016)  1:55
Holly Roadfedlt piano

11  One Voice (2016)  9:17
Michael Hall viola Megan Ihnen mezzo-soprano

—Mel Martin

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