The Compassion Project – Edna Michell, Yehudi Menuhin – Innova CD 971 2 CD set (11/18/18) Disc A TT: 79:13, Disc B TT: 63:20 ****:

Edna Michell, Yehudi Menuhin, and friends around the world dedicate their work to universal compassion through music

This 2 CD set is quite an amazing collection of music, that came about at the invitation of Edna Michell and Yehudi Menuhin, distinguished composers and performers – friends around the world – dedicated their artistry to the theme of universal compassion through music. This is their tribute; what they considered a gift to the world in troubled times.

In 1993, following recording sessions in the Czech Republic, Yehudi Menuhin and I were on the way to Vienna to catch flights to different destinations. Menuhin was despairing about the atrocities of the world. To change the mood, I came up with the idea of composers from around the world writing short works inspired by the theme of compassion. It struck a chord with Menuhin, and he remained immersed in the project for the rest of his life. — Edna Michell

The Compassion Project is comprised of two albums. The first, entitled Compassion: A Journey of the Spirit, features 15 of the Compassion compositions and was released by EMI/Angel in 2001 to critical acclaim. This disc is packaged together with Innova’s release of the new second album that includes world premiere recordings of additional Compassion works and a piece written by Lukas Foss for the opening of the 1980 Winter Olympics performed by Yehudi Menuhin (among others) with Orson Welles narrating a poem by W. H. Auden.

The 24 Compassion works were written for and dedicated to Menuhin and Michell.

The discs are a dazzling collection of music, all dealing in many different ways with the same theme of compassion. It’s no less relevant today than when the idea was proposed and brought to life.

Often, large compilations are just a jumble, but the talent assembled, both composers and musicians is prodigious.

The sound is excellent throughout, and the performances are passionate and compelling.

Highly recommended.

Composers:  
John Tavener, Shulamit Ran, Chen Yi, Hans Werner Henze, Yinam Leef, Poul Ruders, Somei Satoh, Wolfgang Rihm, Iannis Xenakis, Lukas Foss, Karel Husa, Betty Olivero, Gyorgy Kurtag, Philip Glass, Steve Reich, Kaija Saariaho, Petr Eben, Oldrich F. Korte, Viktor Kalabis, Luciano Berio, Boris Tishchenko, Sean Hickey, Josef Tal, Gennady Banshchikov

Performers: 
Edna Michell, Yehudi Menuhin, Cantilena Piano Quartet, Ulf Hoelscher, Susan Narucki, Czech Philharmonic Chamber Orchestra, Lukas Foss and others

—Mel Martin

More information and track samples at the Innova website:

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