Planetarium is a concept album that occasionally gives way to ambient interludes and majestic brass chorales, buttressed by a percussive drive that keeps the momentum skyward. In spite of all the experimentation in sound and style, Sufjan’s vocals provide a clear and coherent center of gravity. The album includes some of his most diverse vocal performances to date (from soft hush to guttural scream), and whether he’s singing through effects pedals, vocoders, auto-tune or not, his voice delivers an ambitious flight map through the cosmos.
The music on this recital was specifically written or arranged for duo violinists Angela and Jennifer Chun. It highlights the personal and professional connections between Philip Glass and Nico Muhly, a longtime colleague and admirer of Glass's work. Glass's miniaturist works, Mad Rush and In the Summer House, create a maximum effect when paired with Muhly's minimalist Four Studies and Honest Music.
Decca’s third album of music by Nico Muhly is a collection of his orchestral works including the concerto for electric violin, Seeing is Believing, with soloist Thomas Gould.
Within the space of his short, yet incredibly illustrious career, Nico Muhly has contributed his talents as an arranger to recordings by Bjork, Bonnie 'Prince' Billy, Rufus Wainwright and The National, while also enjoying a successful sideline as a composer in his own right, presenting works in conjunction with a variety of high profile orchestras - he even finds time to work as a performer and conductor for Philip Glass on his various film soundtracks. Mothertongue is the sophomore solo effort from Nico Muhly, following up on the wide acclaim of his 2006 debut, Speaks Volumes, and marking a further step towards genre cross-pollination and a more avant-garde approach to the conventions of composed music. By this point, any notions of comfortable, conservative Americana are out the window and you're confronted by a highly experimental clash of vastly different musical schools. Quite unlike anything you're likely to encounter, this second album from Nico Muhly shows even greater ambition than its predecessor, establishing a language that's far removed from the kind of easy-going post-Blue Notebooks modern composition that's become so widespread. Very highly recommended.
Aurora Orchestra, together with conductor Nicholas Collon, is an innovative, energetic and talented ensemble. It has already amassed a good amount of praise from the critics, quickly establishing itself as the most significant new British chamber orchestra in a generation. Collon by himself is also making waves, increasingly in demand as a guest conductor in the UK and abroad. This album features a straightforwardly American repertoire selection, interspersing the core repertoire with some beautifully arranged folk/pop songs inspired by the theme.