Mel Powell

Composer(s): Mel Powell
Album Title: Settings 
Cat. No.: 80616
Genre: Classical
Description: Settings

California EAR Unit: Erika Duke-Kirkpatrick, cello; Robin Lorentz, violin; Dorothy Stone, flute; Vicki Ray, piano; Marty Walker, clarinet; Amy Knoles, percussion; Stephen L. Mosko, conductor (in Sextet)

Mel Powell (1923–1998) once wrote: "Over the centuries, the invention of a music that sounds too lovely to be thought of as ingenious has remained one of the grand deceptions manageable by the great masters. Cleverness is not necessarily lovely, nor is loveliness necessarily clever; it is when they are hand-in-hand, in fact conjoined so as to be indistinguishable from one another, that composition proclaims its supreme achievement." Nothing better describes Powell's own music. A jazz prodigy in his youth and later one of the country's most distinguished composers, he created a legacy of works both sonically alluring and intellectually compelling.

When he died in 1998, his close friend composer Milton Babbitt wrote: "We have lost the wit, warmth and wisdom of a singular musician whose creative achievements extend from the biggest of the big bands to the smallest of that small band of distinguished contemporary composers." A consummate stylist, Powell's music couples an Apollonian restraint and discipline with a celebration of sonority-a quick splash of castanets and drums in AmyAbilities, a delicate harmonic and whispering trill in Invocation. There is a coolness and reserve to his writing: His music is never indulgent or overwrought; it interrupts itself before it gets too carried away. Powell frequently quoted philosopher Frans Hemsterhuis's definition of the beautiful as "the greatest number of ideas in the shortest space of time." In listening to this album, featuring seven pieces written expressly for the members of the California EAR Unit, be prepared for an hour's worth of uncommon ideas and graceful, potent fantasy.

Sextet (1996) (for chamber ensemble), Invocation (1988) (for cello), Sonatine (1996) (for flute), AmyAbilities (1988) (for percussion), Prelude (1988) (for piano), Setting (for violin) (1972), Immobiles (1967) (for chamber ensemble with tape) 
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