Robert Moran

Robert Moran: Rocky Road to Kansas; Requiem: Chant du cygne; 32 Cryptograms for Derek Jarman

  • AllMusic Rating
  • User Ratings (0)
  • Your Rating

AllMusic Review by

The title of the title work comes from the name given to a Pennsylvania quilt pattern, circa 1865, that reminded the composer of the multi-tracked quartet design (thick layers, repeated patterns, etc.) for this charming percussion piece, featuring a variety of African, Isreali and Moroccan drums. Premiered in 1990, the Requiem: Swan Song is an inspired piece for four choruses and four chamber orchestras dispersed throughout a cathedral. The text is based on the last words of Mozart as recorded by his wfe and sister ("I compose this Requiem for my self...I can smell death...And now I must leave my art behind"). The rhythmic units of the words closely match those of the instrumental parts -- for example, short words occur with pizzicato string notes, choral swells with complementary brass and string sustains. Moran views the work as a "gigantic sound-tapestry...the sounds of some unearthly musical ping-pong game," no doubt an image that would have delighted Mozart who loved dice and billiards and created compositional methods using them. 32 Cryptograms for Derek Jarman is a delightful, highly rhythmic work from 1995, painted in bright timbres for chamber orchestra. Borrowing the bass line of a well-known aria from Henry Purcell's Dido and Aeneas, Moran builds cryptograms from pitch aggregates pitches, consulting the I-Ching (John Cage's well-known procedure) to determine the "sound-thickness." Dynamics and repetitions may be altered by performers and conductor. Derek Jarman was the brilliant British filmmaker who was once chosen by Moran to direct his opera Desert of Roses.

blue highlight denotes track pick