This marvelous little song cycle has, unfortunately, languished for a bit in my “to do” bin and now I want to tell you that it is a fine production in every way. I don’t know Benton Roark and his website is a bit light on biographical details but what is clear is that Mr. Roark is possessed of a lyrical gift which this song-cycle demonstrates. This is an artist who bears watching/listening.
He is the co-artistic director of Arkora Music who perform the work featuring the composer’s own poetry and selections from various texts read by narrators. This sounds like a formula for a noisy avant-garde piece but that is not what we have here. This is an intelligent clearly contemporary work that is simply beautiful and played with great sensitivity by the musicians. The music is tonal, bluesy at times but always engaging and evocative.
Kathleen Allan, soprano; Amelia Lukas, flutes; Brendon Randall-Myers, electric guitar; Jonathan Allen, percussion; Anne Lanzlotti, viola; Samuel Suggs, double bass; Mary Berry and Maya Levy, narrators comprise the ensemble and all are strong performers. Alan’s clear beautiful tone carries the spirit of this work and these performers are clearly listening to each other.
Definitely worth your time and repeated listenings reveal more in this wonderful piece. You can get the album via the Arkora site linked above as well as Bandcamp. It is on the Redshift label.