Riot Ensemble

Speak, Be Silent

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The works on this album, mostly recorded here for the first time, have something in common besides the fact that all of them are by women (and it's perhaps notable that that's not true of the performers, Riot Ensemble). Each of them is written in a contemporary chamber idiom that, although not tonal, is entirely accessible to general audiences: the idiom involves dramatic shifts in texture that readily bring extramusical associations to mind. Consider the opening work: Chaya Czernowin's Ayre: Towed through plumes, thicket, asphalt, sawdust and hazardous air I shall not forget the sound of may seem to have an outlandish title, but sample it, and it's at least plausible. Icelandic composer Anna Thorvaldsdóttir has gained considerable popularity with music in this style, and Ró, Icelandic for "serenity," is reasonably well described as "a piece of quiet but threatening moods that eventually comes to convey a fragile sense of identity and wholeness." The style does not foreclose humor, as evidenced by Mirela Ivičević's rambunctious Baby Magnify/Lilith's New Toy. The album takes its title from poetry by Rumi that inspired the violin concerto by Australian composer Liza Lim. And Rebecca Saunders' Stirrings Still II also has a literary inspiration, in this case the sparse dialogue of playwright Samuel Beckett that indeed could have provided the basis for any of the works on this album. Beckett's style was revolutionary, abstract, and yet entirely accessible, and you are likely to find that the music on this album has the same qualities.

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