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Album Review

Chicago Sinfonietta & Mei-Ann Chen – “Project W – Works By Diverse Women Composers” – [Cedille Records]

Medusa of Troy   6/3/2020   A Library, CD, Music Reviews

Project W album cover from Cedille Records

This 2019 album of classical works is based on the highlights of Chicago Sinfonietta’s 30th season (2017-2018) [Mei-Ann Chen, conductor and musical director], which featured the works of American women composers. Most of the compositions on Project W were newly commissioned by the orchestra, from Jennifer Higdon, Clarice Assad, Jessie Montgomery, and Reena Esmail. The album starts with a performance of Dance in the Canebreaks, written by pioneering African-American composer Florence B. Price. Dances, consisting of 3 jaunty pieces, is sweet and fun, reminiscent of Copeland’s “Fanfare for the Common Man” and Gershwin’s “Porgy & Bess”, but with its own flair. “Sin fronteras” by Clarice Assad & “Coincident Dances” by Jessie Montgomery (part of Yo-Yo Ma’s Silkroad Ensemble) sound like traditional classical music. Reena Esmail’s “Charukeshi bandish” has traditional classical Indian arrangements along with vocals, while her “#metoo” is skittish and tense. The album ends with Jennifer Higdon’s 5-movement piece, Dance Card, which alternates between high-energy pieces (no. 1, 3 & 5) and slower, sweeter pieces (no. 2 & 4). This album won’t fit on all shows, but certain pieces can work around the edges of international, blues, drone and ambient sets. Check it out.

you heard it 14 times on kfjc! most recently:
  • 26 days ago, Bryan Chandler played F. Price Dances In The Canebreaks: III. Silk Hat and Walking
  • 51 days ago, Lucky Jae played F. Price Dances In The Canebreaks: I. Nimble Feet"
  • 52 days ago, Bully Demise played C. Assad: Sin Fronteras
  • 55 days ago, Kimbrosia played J. Higdon: Dance Card - I. Raucous Rumpus
  • 56 days ago, Teachers AIDS played C. Assad: Sin Fronteras
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