LANSKY: Contemplating Weather – Western Michigan U. Chorale / Kimberly Dunn Adams – Orch./Ensemble:  Meehan/Perkins pianists – Quattro Mani – Bridge CD 9447, 73:31 (4/7/15) [Distr. by Albany] ****:

When I received this disc for review I assumed it was some of Lansky’s electronic/computer music, but that wasn’t the case. Contemplating Weather has a most agreeable mix of Lansky’s contemporary music, performed by real acoustic instruments and real (non-computerized) people. The music is sometimes whimsical, sometimes deeply emotional, and all of it is interesting. The composer is currently a professor of music composition at Princeton University.

Contemplating Weather is probably best described as a cantata for chorus and 11 instruments. It was commissioned to celebrate the Western’s School of Music’s 100th anniversary. The lyrics come from poems by John Greene.

It’s a very interesting piece, and a good listen. The moments are all weather-related, with names like Clouds and Cold Front.

The next work on the disc is called Travel Diary, written in 2007. It uses just two percussionists, and in some ways reflects Lanky’s electronic music. It’s a light-hearted work, with a variety of instruments utilized. I expected it to be a tough listen, but in fact is quite enchanting. The disc closes with It All Adds Up for two pianos. Written in 2005, it’s a suite of six pieces, exploring tonal and post-tonal harmonies.

The recording is a good one, done at the Dalton Center at Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo. The recording is most striking on Travel Diary, with very succinct separations and the acoustics of the hall making for a solid presentation. Alas, this piece in particular would be even more striking in multichannel high resolution, but the disc is just a regular CD. Still, every composition is well-reflected in the fine recording.

Lansky has a lot of his music on the Bridge Label, so there is much to explore. I liked hearing the ‘acoustic’ side of Lansky, and if you’re a contemporary music lover this is a disc I think you will grow attached to.

—Mel Martin