AUGUSTA READ THOMAS (b.1964): Ritual Incantations for Cello and Orchestra (David Finckel [cello], Taipei Symphony Orchestra; Felix Chiu-Sen Chen), Chi for String Quartet (Spektral Quartet), Qi for Percussio Quartet (Third Coast Percussion), Angel Tears and Earth Prayers for Saxophone and Organ (Allen Harrington [sax], Lottie Enna-Braun [organ]), Klee Musings for Piano Trio (Civitas Ensemble), Rhea Enchanted and Venus Enchanted for Solo Cello (Scott Kluksdahl), Dappled Things for Male Glee Club (University of Notre Dame Glee Club; Daniel Stowe), Eurythmy Etudes for Piano (Lynn Raley)
Catalogue Number: 12T060
Description: This appealing disc joins the previous entries in the series (04R078, 08R080, 08R079, 11Q084, 08Q083, 05P090) in presenting various aspects of Thomas' output in large and small forms, often with spiritual overtones of different kinds. All these works are recent, aside from the 1999 cello concerto (No.2 of 3 to date), which is cast in a more 'serious' mold than the other works - which is not to suggest that they are frivolous, just that this is a more conventional structure that relies less on the ebullient good humor, emphasis on scintillating higher registers, jazzy allusions and bell-like sonorities that have come to define the composer's fully mature style. The substantial string quartet explores aspects of the Chinese concept of the essential life force that pervades all living beings, while the piano trio brings similar buoyant, airborne musings, full of playfulness and jazz references to bear on Klee's quirky, energetic paintings. The shorter works range from a graceful setting of Gerard Manley Hopkins' "Pied Beauty" and two contrasting piano etudes full of motion, to a madcap mechanism of meshing gears for four percussionists at two marimbas and two little prayer-like interludes for use during church services.