Baker / Notus / Zora String Quartet: Radiance & Refraction
Title: Radiance & Refraction
Label: Innova Records
Product Type: COMPACT DISCS
As it approaches it's fortieth birthday, it is high time Notus put out it's first record. Founded in 1980 and based in Bloomington, Indiana, the choir is known for it's commitment to new music and has premiered over 150 works. Five of their commissions are featured here. Of Radiance and Refraction, their debut album, demonstrates the wealth of talent found in the student ensemble led by Dominick DiOrio, as well as the remarkable works written for them by composition teachers at the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music, some tackling choral music for the first time. The album is anchored by John Gibson's substantial work for chorus and electronics, In Flight. His music is paradoxically dark and brooding, light and airy, witty and sardonic. While Icarus is already drowning and half submerged in Brueghel's painting of the same name, Gibson's first movement paints the entire story: an opening pastoral scene transforms into the movement of melting 'wing's wax,' with Icarus' death 'quite unnoticed' by the surrounding folk. The goldfinch of the second poem is drawn with harmony out of jazz and sound effects reminiscent of white noise, while the third poem's constellations swim through a more molecular and symmetrical harmonic world. The fourth movement moves toward the most fulfilling cathartic peak on the word "love"- a love which is short-lived, as the emotional crash of the poet is met with music of equal divisiveness. The fifth movement concludes the set with an atmosphere of smog and metal, of stuttering voices and desolate remains.