Beata Moon

Saros

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Composer Beata Moon, born in North Dakota and raised in Indiana outside Chicago, writes music with the elusive combination of simplicity and originality. A "saros" is a cycle of lunar eclipses, and Moon has stated that she perceives the pieces here as related, although they are for different ensembles and were written over a six-year period. Trained as a pianist, Moon took up composing in adulthood. Her style is not easily classifiable as avant-garde or conservative. Sample some of the seven-movement piano trio Dinner Is West (the title comes from Gertrude Stein). The music is full of Romantic and Impressionist gestures, but it is based on rigorously maintained and developed sets of pitches. It's as though the language of Bartók's folk-based pieces had been pushed backward to Romanticism rather than forward to the avant-garde language of postwar Hungarian music. Another contemporary element is the presence of hints of jazz and blues: not as an allusion or as a crossover gesture, but simply as a natural option for someone growing up in the contemporary musical world. Moon is present herself as pianist on most of the recordings and seems to control the proceedings; the least successful performance on the album may be the Dickinson Songs for soprano and guitar, where she does not appear. The somewhat brash voice of soprano Lisa Flanagan does not really fit the contemplative mood, but Dickinson's poetry, seemingly regular yet highly intricate and personal, is a perfect match for Moon's music. Very nicely recorded for a composer-issued release, and recommended overall.

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