Martha Potter, violin; Merja Sargon, soprano; Earl Kim, piano; Timothy Eddy, Fred Sherry, cellos; Paul Dunkel, flute; Miles Anderson, trombone; Stephen Taylor, oboe; Virgil Blackwell, clarinet; Frank Morelli, bassoon; Stewart Rose, French horn; Tom Rainey, Richard Ritz, Roger Reynolds, percussion
Clearly influenced by Varese's concept of "pure sound," the four works on From Behind the Unreasoning Mask privilege the exploration of sound as a means of musical expression. In the 1970s, the integration of new vocal and instrumental techniques and, sometimes, electronic sound sources into the composer's vocabulary broadened the tonal, textural--and, consequently--expressive palette immeasurably. Roger Reynolds's (b. 1934) From Behind the Unreasoning Mask (1975) presents an interplay between a four-channel tape (at first sparse, but becoming a dense sonic tapestry) and live performers (trombone, two percussionists) who respond in diverse ways both to the prerecorded sounds and to each other. Paul Chihara (b. 1938) dedicated Ceremony II (Incantations) (1974) to flutist Paul Dunkel, and it is the agile cadenzas and decorative melodies of the flute that dominate the work. By contrast, the two cellos tend to move in regular rhythms, and the percussionist adds washes of cymbal and vibraphone color.
Chou Wen-Chung's (b. 1923) beautiful five-movement Suite for Harp and Wind Quintet (1950) is based on Chinese melodies and is a work of shimmering colors and calligraphic delicacy. The final work, Earl Kim's (b. 1920) Earthlight (1973) is subtitled "romanza for violin con sordino, high soprano, piano, and lights," with a text adapted from several works of Samuel Beckett. Kim's subtly inflected music explores the coloristic and textural possibilties, both vocal and instrumental, primarily in the upper register, to create a muted but intense monodrama.