Edna Michell

Compassion

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Initially conceived as a moral and artistic response to human suffering, violinist Edna Michell's Compassion also became a touching tribute to her mentor and source of inspiration, Yehudi Menuhin, on his death in 1999. The 15 compositions commissioned by Michell for the project revolve around the themes of suffering and charity in fairly abstract or suggestive ways, with few programmatic, religious, or political points made beyond the allusive titles. As a practical matter for curious listeners, this CD is a comprehensive sampler of contemporary musical trends, and the leading lights of two generations of composers are generously represented in the CD's 80 minutes. Established figures such as Karel Husa, Lukas Foss, György Kurtág, Hans Werner Henze, Wolfgang Rihm, Philip Glass, John Tavener, Steve Reich, and Iannis Xenakis share the program with rising composers Shulamit Ran, Chen Yi, Yinam Leef, Betty Olivero, Poul Ruders, and Somei Satoh. Michell is the primary soloist, but she is joined by a long roster of vocalists and instrumentalists, poet Allen Ginsberg, and the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra in somber and striking performances, many of which are hauntingly beautiful and memorable. However, because the album's mood is overwhelmingly serious and darkly meditative, absorbing it in one sitting is difficult. Angel's sound quality is clear and focused.

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