Robert Kyr , Professor of Composition at the University of Oregon, composed his violin concerto trilogy “On the Nature of: (1) Love, (2) Harmony and (3) Peace from 1996-2002. Belying their titles, these concertos are minimally programmatic. Kyr’s musical sources range from the Shaker Hymnal , the Balinese Gamelan orchestra to a leaner lyricism, perhaps distilled from Hovhaness.
Concerto #1 “On the Nature of Love” – 13 variations on “What Wondrous Love is This?” is a progressive set of variations on this hymn . Kyr’s harmonies create a cool open sound. The violin is at some times lyrical and reflective, at others blissful with periods of rapture. Within the third movement, a series of fugues and spiraling two part canons provide great energy “celebrating with increasing ecstasy” before returning to the first movement hymn .
Concerto #2 “On the Nature of Harmony” pits the traditionally tuned western orchestra against the de-tuned Balinese Gamelan ensemble. A “merging and fusion of opposites” creates a new and fascinating harmonic world with enthralling sound textures.
Robert Kyr describes Concerto #3 “On the Nature of Peace as ” the most extreme and dramatic ” of the three. “Conflict, Lament, Reconciliation” represent the musical ideas successfully communicated within this three movement work.
These concertos require repeated listening. As such, they unfold slowly with great reward for the attentive listener. Their cumulative effect is quite striking. This is intense, thoughtful, beautifully wrought music.
Performances by Denise Huizenga (#1) and Ron Blessinger (#2, #3) are authoritative and impassioned, as is their partnership with the fine Third Angle New Music Ensemble and the University of Oregon Pacific Rim Gamelan (#2) . Robert Kyr conducts #1 and #3, Jeffrey Peyton, #2.
Technically the New Albion CD is superb. Here is a vast dynamic range with a perfectly-voiced violin. A palpable mid-sized acoustic is created, providing a heady listening experience.This is a most worthwhile release. Highly recommended!
— Ronald Legum