Recorded on 01/01/2000, uploaded on 11/01/2009
Musician's or Publisher's Notes
Born in 1964 in New York, Augusta
Read Thomas is one of the most dynamic composers of her generation.
Currently the composer-in-residence for the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Ms.
Thomas finds her work programmed by the likes of Barenboim, Rostropovich, Qzawa,
and Boulez, and performed by major American and European orchestras.
Angel Musings, commissioned from Thomas by the Orion Ensemble in
1998, consists of two movements, "Nightfall" and
"Daybreak." A densely packed composition, Angel Musings paints
a cosmic picture of the transformation from darkness to light by exploring
extremes of dynamics and textures. As Thomas suggests, the music could be
taking place in the moment between death and rebirth.
"Nightfall" bursts forth with a storm of chords for strings and
clarinet in unison, as the piano overrides the fury with lightning-quick
sparks. An evolution of solo lines then overlap and recede before quietly
subsiding. "Daybreak" then opens with dark, quiet piano chords.
Diverse lyrical lines begin to merge into open quasi-tonal harmonies. As the
strings and clarinet build rhythmic and dynamic intensity, the piano ushers
them into rebirth and dawn with chiming, bell-like dissonance. Throughout this
meditation, the composer affords each instrument opportunities to sound its
particular voice: the clarinet's haunting low register, technical flourishes
and soaring heights; the piano's bell-like chords and fast, whimsical passage
work; the strings' tender melodies interspersed with pizzicati, harmonics, and
Collaborating in rehearsal with the Ensemble musicians, Augusta Read Thomas
summed up Angel Musings as such: "The loud, explosive, rhythmic
chords bring forth the energy of star constellations above - particularly
meaningful for a group called Orion."
Susan Fisher Miller,
Bonnie Campbell and Orion Ensemble musicians
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