The Grand Canyon Project = Music for Solo Cello by Yu-Hui Chang, Marti Epstein, Howard Frazin, Laura Kaminsky, John Kennedy, Jeffrey Mumford, David Rakowski, Jan Swafford, Andy Vores and Dalit Hadass Warshaw – Rhonda Rider, cello – MSR Classics

The Grand Canyon Project = Music for Solo Cello by Yu-Hui Chang, Marti Epstein, Howard Frazin, Laura Kaminsky, John Kennedy, Jeffrey Mumford, David Rakowski, Jan Swafford, Andy Vores and Dalit Hadass Warshaw – Rhonda Rider, cello – MSR Classics MS 1462, 65:16 (10/1/13) [Dist. by Albany] ****:

Since I live in Arizona, the CD called The Grand Canyon Project immediately caught my eye. I wondered if it would catch my ear as well.

The Grand Canyon Project is a collection of ten compositions that offer impressions of Arizona’s most famous natural attraction. They are performed by solo cellist Rhonda Rider. The idea for the CD came about when Rider was artist-in-residence at the Grand Canyon 2010-2011. She wanted a way to musically capture the canyon and asked ten composers to create short pieces that reflected their impressions.

The result is impressive and listenable. My first thought was that capturing the varied topography of the canyon would be a challenge for a solo cello, but each piece works well.

Not all the works presented were to my taste, and they are varied enough in mood and tone to be selective about what I wanted to listen to at each sitting. Some are contemplative tone poems, while other compositions are wildly dissonant. Of course the canyon has many moods too, depending on location, weather and lighting. In particular I enjoyed Rio del Tizon by Yu-Hui-Chang, the mulit-movement so near, so far by Marti Epstein and Naissance by Dalit Hadass Warshaw.

The recording of Ms. Rider is quite good. Nice ambience, yet no loss of focus on the cello. The soloist is centered with a very lush reverberation in the stereo mix. I liked it even more letting my system expand the recording to 5.1 channels via Dolby PL IIx.

This is an ‘off the beaten path’ CD, but it is a rewarding listen. We hear the music of ten composers who weren’t known to me, and the sublime cello of Rhonda Rider. The Grand Canyon Project was a project worth doing, and a CD worth listening to.

TrackList:

1. Yu-Hui Chang: Rio Del Tizon
2. Jan Swafford: The Silence At Yuma Point
3. John Kennedy: Even The Stones Breathe
4. Laura Kaminsky: The Great Unconformity
5. Marti Epstein: So Near, So Far – Quietly, But With Presence
6. Marti Epstein: So Near, So Far – Lontano
7. Marti Epstein: So Near, So Far – Shimmering
8. Marti Epstein: So Near, So Far – Appassionata
9. Marti Epstein: So Near, So Far – Shimmering
10. Marti Epstein: So Near, So Far – Mysterioso
11. David Rakowski: Luccicare
12. Dalit Hadass Warshaw: Naissance
13. Howard Frazin: My Grandmother s Ashes (And A Balloon)
14. Jeffrey Mumford: A Focus Further Within
15. Andy Vores: Near And Far 

—Mel Martin

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