Firebird Ensemble: Sarah Brady, flute; Rane Moore, clarinet; Gabriela Diaz, violin; Kate Vincent, viola, David Russell, cello; Sarah Bob, piano;
Jeffrey Means, conductor
The five works on this disc tap into a wide and deep current of sources and ideas, a microcosm of Eric Moe’s (b. 1954) fascinations, with references to Goethe and Richard Wilbur, among others. The compositional craft by which Moe achieves his expressive purposes is as varied as his musical moods, though we can detect certain trends toward process and pattern, such as cycling pitch and rhythmic collections. Also pointedly informing Moe’s music is its performer-centricity: as a performing pianist himself he knows what it is to enjoy what one is playing, whether a syncopated, dancing texture or a long, lyrical melodic line
A story might be told more appropriately as a comedy than as a tragedy, or might better fit a cartoon than a painting; a prayer and a joke can both convey a basic truth. In Eric Moe’s work the cosmic distance between Goethe and mud wrestling is agreeably small. There’s really little telling how title or source might reflect the music of a given piece, nor is there any way to assess the effect of these apparently widely diverging moments except cumulatively, after hearing the whole. The far-flung, ground-covering referentiality of Moe’s ostensible subjects, as well as the music itself, aim at an aggregate density of experience, echoing life in its odd juxtapositions and weird coincidences, its intellectual and poetic richness, its intricacy, intimacy, and avoidance of easy answers.