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Unseen Rain
Music By Robert Kyr
Unseen Rain
Genres: Pop, Classical
  •  Track Listings (13) - Disc #1

Unseen Rain by Music By Robert Kyr


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CD Details

All Artists: Music By Robert Kyr
Title: Unseen Rain
Members Wishing: 1
Total Copies: 0
Label: New Albion Records
Release Date: 11/18/2009
Genres: Pop, Classical
Styles: Vocal Pop, Opera & Classical Vocal, Historical Periods, Early Music, Modern, 20th, & 21st Century
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaCD Credits: 1
UPC: 022551007529


Album Description
Unseen Rain by Music By Robert Kyr

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CD Reviews

Modernist Ars Nova
Giordano Bruno | Wherever I am, I am. | 05/23/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Composer Robert Kyr (b. 1952) is one of many modernists who have turned to the Medieval sources of European music for re-inspiration. He happens to have mastered the subtleties of ars nova polyphony more convincingly than most, with beautiful, ageless results. His association with the singers of Ensemble PAN - Laurie Monahan, Michael Collver, and John Fleagle - and with the musical community of the Longy School in Boston has been extremely fruitful; the results on this CD speak for the value of such bonds between composer and performers.

Threefold Vision, the first composition on this CD, is a suite of three motets in unmistakably 14th Century style, sung by the three singers of PAN, whose training in the rhythmic and harmonic structures of ars nova polyphony is tested daringly. Ars Nova composers, from de Vitry to Ciconia, were the first to apply the complexities of religious polyphony to secular poetry, vastly expanding the chromatic and emotional possibilities of music. The complexity and sophistication of their works were unrecoverable until artists such as PAN developed the skills to prove their accomplishment. Thus Robert Kyr is uniquely positioned to subsume his new art into the ars nova. The first motet sets a text by 14th C poet/composer Guillaume Machaut. The second motet is polytextual; two poems are sung simultaneously, both by the modern French poet Jean Joubert. The third motet sets a poem by Artur Rimbaud against another poem by St. John of the Cross, with a fragment of a third text by Hildegard von Bingen serving as a 'tenor'. Such polytextual motets wer common in the rarified, intellectually fearless world of ars nova music. A listener isn't expected to hear the texts in miraculous verbal comprehensibility, but rather to 'know' them and to hear something more than their literal significations from the intertwinings of the music.

Texts mattered immensely to ars nova composers, and obviously matter just as much to Robert Kyr. The second composition on this CD, Songs of the Shining Wind, uses translations in English by the fine poet W.S. Merwin of poems by Borges, Mirza Ghalib, Niu Hsi Chi, Apollinaire, and Leopardi. Again, the compositional structures are based on ars nova, and require the very specialized skills of the PAN trio of singers, plus the virtuosity of vielle-player Shira Kammen and lutenist Crawford Young.

The third composition, Unseen Rain, was commissioned for the 75th anniversary of the Longy School. It employs the PAN soloists plus Longy instrumentalists and the voices of the Back Bay Chorale. The texts are quatrains by the poet Rumi (1207-1273), translated into English. Though Unseen Rain is the least grounded in ars nova structures, it too requires the masterful singing of experienced early music specialists.

PAN (Project Ars Nova) was unrivaled in performance of 14th C polyphony. Their CD Homage to Ciconia was perhaps the best performance of the repertoire ever recorded. Alas, they are no longer producing such glories, and tenor John Fleagle, a musician of the finest personal qualities as well as vocal refinement, died of brain cancer a few years after "Unseen Rain" was recorded. Homage to John! The world of Early Music misses him!

Everything about this CD is superb - the audio technology, the performance, and the compositions. You'll need a special shelf in your performance collection for Robert Kyr, a "subtler art" shelf for music that is profoundly innovative yet hauntingly archaic."