LIOR ROSNER: Awake and Dream; Three poems by Sappho; In the Time of Silver Rain: Seven Poems by Langston Hughes; Innerscape; G-Pull – Katia Popov, violin/ Janai Brugger, sop./ Steven Vanhauwaert, p./ Hollywood Studio Sym./ Lior Rosner – Bridge 9424, 52:46 [Distr. by Albany] ****:
I am not familiar with composer Lior Rosner, though the brief biography given in the notes suggests he is a composer for film and television (no credits are given) with “an alchemy of influences coming from contemporary, jazz, and classical music.” His style appears to be rather definable, at least according the works on this album, and they well match the autumn leaves found on the cover. As I write this we are beginning to get hints of fall here, and the season and this music both suit my innate sense of melancholy very well. Not depression mind you, which is an entirely different thing, but instead a mode of reflection, bitter sweetness, and profound feeling of mortality. In other words, it’s delightful! Those of you of similar personality makeup will know exactly what I am talking about, and I would be very surprised if Mr. Rosner is not of that same bent.
Awake and Dream for violin and orchestra sets the tone right off the bat, though the pattern of the action of the work seems more to me like “dream and awake and dream again”. No matter, this evocative work provides a good introduction to all that follows, played beautifully by Katia Popov. Three Poems by Sappho, speaking of haunting, represents according to the composer, “universal life events that transcend time and space: a wedding, a relationship, and death.” I hope I am not out of place suggesting that all three are seen in the light of the third, as an incessant strand of fatality runs through each movement, not in a pessimistic sense, but a realistic one, reflective of the human predicament.
We lose the orchestra of Sappho and proceed to the sparser and yet still melancholic musings of Langston Hughes’s In the Time of Silver Rain. I must say that soprano Janai Brugger seems a real find, executing the ups and downs of Hughes meditative musings on a variety of fairly profound themes. This is the most intimate piece on the disc. Innerscape finds the composer backing away from the written word into the area of “pure” music, basing his work on the “building block of a single chord and its transposition”, but believe me, he can’t escape his overall autumnal mood and reflectiveness—it seems wedded to the essence of his art. Even the final work for solo violin, G-Pull, despite its technical assessment of tug-of-war between thematic development and the repetitive pull of the G-string (the lowest note, sans tuning changes, on a violin) speaks of tragedy in volumes. The work reminds me of some of the early Baroque pieces of Biber et al, particularly his Rosary Sonatas, in its emotional tone if not its technique—though that is not altogether absent either. Again Katia Popov renders a performance of dramatic ferocity and fine tonal allure.
All these pieces were recorded at three different California studios, and the sound among them is remarkably consistent. Rosner’s is a voice well worth getting to know, and this is a great place to start.