Torus; chamber music by Yotam Haber

torusYotam Haber’s album Torus is a bit off the beaten track for me but there’s some art song on it (for some value of art song) and it has Mireille Asselin singing on one track so I thought I’d check it out.  There are five pieces, written between 2007 and 2014, on the album.  The first two are vocal numbers.  We were all is a setting (for some value of setting) of Cherries by Andrea Cohen.  It’s unlike conventional art song in that fragments of text are broken up, repeated and interwoven in driving repetitive pattern something like some of Steve Reich’s music.  The other vocal piece is rather different.  On Leaving Brooklyn is a setting of Julia Kasdorf’s After Psalm 137.  It has a declamatory vocal line set over a sort of minimalist accompaniment.  This is the one with Mireille singing.

The remaining three pieces are instrumental works.  Last Skin is an impressionistic work for four pairs of quarter tone violins.  Torus, for string quartet, feels like an experiment in how wide a range of dynamics and tempi one can get into less than twelve minutes of music.  From the Book of Maintenance and Sustenance is a sort of meditation for viola and piano.

This album is probably most likely to be enjoyed by hard core contemporary music fans.  I enjoyed it at one level but also felt quite out of my depth in places.


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