Christopher Bono's 2012 release is an album of introspective chamber music, dominated by the work that gives it its title, Invocations. While there is no explicit program behind this triptych, which the composer has dedicated to his father, Bono describes in his liner notes the complex emotions that inform it and the reasons he had for using different instrumentation for each part. Invocation 1, "Exhaust," was written for string trio, and its assertive modal counterpoint expresses pain, suffering, and transcendence, though in a fairly abstract manner. Invocation 2, "Fish, Father, Phoenix," employs taped fragments of his father's voice and nature recordings over an ensemble of winds, strings, and percussion, mixed in a montage that raises essential questions about the meaning of life. The final section, Invocation 3, "Sunday Stills the Willow," is a quiet, lyrical reflection that sums up the works' poignant expressions. The album is filled out with a mildly experimental movement for string quartet, The Missing, and the instrumental version of Invocation 2. Bono's explorations come to no clear-cut resolutions, and his music is rather more evocative than declarative, suggesting an open process of questioning that leads him where it will. Occasionally, it takes the listener through some harsh passages, and the accumulation of musical material can be extremely dense, though the greater part of this CD is mellow and approachable, with vivid sonorities that linger in the memory.
AllMusic Review by Blair Sanderson