The Gregg Smith Singers; Gregg Smith, conductor; Ohio State University Chorus and Band; Edwin London, conductor
Unwilling to ally himself with any trendy school of composition, and refusing even to see himself as either a radical or a conservative, Edwin London has gone his own way for many years, creating beautiful, challenging, inventive, marvelous music. These five choral works, though vastly different in conception, are nonetheless all expressions of the complex and multifaceted personality of their composer.
Jove's Nectar is a series of seven character variations, based on the well-known lyric by Ben Jonson, "Drink to me only with thine eyes," originally titled To Celia. They move from a high-energy estampie (a medieval stomp) through to a dirge with bells at the end－in essence a complete life cycle. Moon Sound Zone, based on a poem written by the composer, is uncannily beautiful, hardly the music we might expect from a procedure that utilizes all twelve notes of the chromatic scale in a mathematically derived distribution. The mood of the poem is reflected in the atmospheric harmonies of the music.
Psalm of These Days I and V are the opening and closing segments of a cycle of five interrelated, but varied, vocal/instrumental works based on Psalm texts and written between 1977 and 1980. Inspired in part by ideas suggested by William James's The Varieties of Religious Experience, the cycle offers impressions of religious character types and postures ranging from the "once born soul" through rationality to the "sick soul," the "mystic experience" and the eventual emergence of the "twice born" soul. The cycle is not religious music per se, but rather is about religious music.
In Bach (Again) a Bach chorale (actually, any Bach chorale of the performers' choosing) is deconstructed, as each sonority, indeed each note, is elongated so that it comes to be appreciated more for its inherent beauty than for its participation in a harmonic and contrapuntal progression toward a cadence. In this particular performance (which uses Komm Süsser Tod), only the first phrase of the chorale is used. It is first performed as Bach composed it, and then it is taken apart and made into something very different.
Edwin London: Jove's Nectar