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15 November 2019

Review: NOTUS CD "Of Radiance & Refraction"

by David Katz (The American Prize)

Sandström--beautifully self-contained and carefully controlled, rich, blended ensemble sound. Just about ideal from ppp to fff--exceptionally flexible rhythmic sense--organic, in the moment. Lovely.

Gibson--gorgeous music, with elegantly woven electronics that twinkle as the stars do. A chorus as one voice, woven together with artistry and constant care. Diction suffers (words rarely understood) but one would not want to disrupt this sound world with an abundance of consonant jolts. A perfectly acceptable artistic choice. Wonderful soloist in IV (Kellie Motter)--such vocal intimacy and control, ideally balanced by the rest of the ensemble, whose contrastingly clouded and clear textures shimmer and evolve like clouds. Gorgeous.

DiOrio through Stravinsky through DiOrio and out the other side. First movement rhythmically boisterous. Not only Stravinsky, but late Britten, is not far from this sound world, built from old materials, ideas, that cascade and glow. Stunningly delightful--never too much of anything. The second movement creates an instant contrast, in its telling use of octaves/unisons, bells, thin textures, pizzicato, unaccompanied voice, violin. Within the geography of the piece as a whole, music pretty much unassailable.

The third movement proves that DiOrio is a stem-winder: he knows his Ives, his Britten, his Poulenc, his chant, (and of course his Stravinsky), utilizing whatever of their aesthetic he requires to the furtherance of his goal. Never imitating--beyond homage, it is like a speaker who remembers the bons mots of every great poet in every language and uses each for its communicative power. Just wonderful music: new and not new, and so very welcome--and of course, wonderfully performed.