CD Meredith Monk: Songs of Ascension (CD 7027891),
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Meredith Monk: Songs of Ascension
1. Songs of Ascension: Clusters 1
2. Songs of Ascension: Strand (Gathering)
3. Songs of Ascension: Winter Variation
4. Songs of Ascension: Cloud Code
5. Songs of Ascension: Shift
6. Songs of Ascension: Mapping
7. Songs of Ascension: Summer Variation
8. Songs of Ascension: Vow
9. Songs of Ascension: Clusters 2
10. Songs of Ascension: Falling
11. Songs of Ascension: Burn
12. Songs of Ascension: Strand (Inner Psalm)
13. Songs of Ascension: Autumn Variation
14. Songs of Ascension: Ledge Dance
15. Songs of Ascension: Traces
16. Songs of Ascension: Respite
17. Songs of Ascension: Mapping Continued
18. Songs of Ascension: Clusters 3
19. Songs of Ascension: Spring Variation
20. Songs of Ascension: Fathom
21. Songs of Ascension: Ascent
Manufacturer Part Number (MPN): B001556902
James Farber; Paul Zinman
Audio Mixers: James Farber; Manfred Eicher; Meredith Monk .
Liner Note Author: Kyle Gann.
Recording information: Academy of Arts and Letters, New York (11/2009).
Photographers: Marion Gray; John Rogers ; Cameron Wittig; Dyanna Taylor.
Meredith Monk's Songs of Ascension is made up of 21 relatively short movements for ensembles of voices or instruments or combinations of both, in groupings as straightforward as a string quartet and as complex as the mix of 12 virtuoso vocal soloists, strings, bass clarinet, and percussion. The unity of the material may not be apparent on first hearing, but Monk helps orient the listener with her titles; there are three related movements with the title "Clusters," four with "Variations" (one for each season), two with "Strand," and a "Mapping" and "Mapping Continued." In his insightful program notes, Kyle Gann comments that Monk's music sounds "not avant-garde, but ancient. not minimalist but like an invented folk tradition," and that Monk herself "sounds less like the sophisticated New York composer she is than like a shaman, some Druid priestess. whose music has somehow come down to us in a miraculous state of preservation." That imagery does certainly capture something of the intensely evocative, primordial quality that makes Monk's music so distinctive. It is potent testimony to the fertility of her imagination that even after a very productive lifetime of exploring non-traditional uses of the voice, she continues to astonish and dazzle with new vocal sounds, nowhere more evident than in her solo, "Fathom," the CD's penultimate track.
The album was recorded in a studio, but Songs of Ascension was conceived and created as a site-specific work, to be performed on the staircase of an eight-story circular tower in Sonoma, CA, designed by artist Ann Hamilton. Something may have been lost in transferring the piece from its original, unique sonic environment, but what's added is the massed power of the Montclair State University Singers, who bring an awesome monumentality to the final movement. Monk also marshals a broad range of new music virtuosi: the members of her own ensemble, the singers of the M6, and the Todd Reynolds Quartet. Produced by ECM's legendary Manfred Eicher, the album's sound is immaculate, warm, and immediate. Highly recommended, especially for Monk's fans and anyone who loves innovative vocal music. ~ Stephen Eddins
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