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Album at a Glance

Somewhat Atonal or Dissonant
Blue Griffin Recording Record Label - Blue Griffin Recording: "Praised as a 'consistent stream of exceptionally enjoyable recordings' by American Record Guide."
Release date: 2012-12-11

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Boomslang: New Music for Marimba by Etezady, Fisk, Adashik, Vinao / Gwendolyn Burgett, marimba

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Those of you who would not hesitate to buy an hour long CD of solo percussion music, please raise your mallets. Many of us assume that a program like this is intended for a narrow audience - percussionists to be exact. If you feel that way, Boomslang from Blue Griffin performed by Gwendolyn Burgett just might be the disc that could change your thinking.

Marimba player extraordinaire Gwendolyn Burgett performs five pieces for solo marimba on this endlessly fascinating CD. There's a similarity to these works that initially obscures what's different about them. Most of the music is characterized by a kaleidoscopic effect of subtly shifting colors and harmonies. It is somewhat mesmerizing and rather relaxing. Listening more closely on subsequent hearings, I was drawn further in by the unique characteristics of the individual pieces. In the first work, and title of the album, Boomslang by Roshanne Etezady, it was the complexity of the rhythms. In Douglas Fisk's Impromptu (inspired by Schubert), it was the music's placid surface and subtle harmonic shifts. One of my favorites, Ki no Uta (Wood-Song) by Ryan Howard, is the only work on the disc to incorporate electronics, which evidently freed up Ms. Burgett's hands to add color with other wooden instruments, the temple block, claves, and güiro.

Four of the five works were commissioned by Michigan State University, where Gwendolyn Burgett teaches; obviously, she is a cherished asset of the MSU music faculty. Ms. Burgett holds degrees from Eastman, Peabody and Yale and has taken top prizes at the World Marimba Competition among other contests. If you're intrigued, listen to our sample; the subtle musical touches and exquisite finesse of her playing will appeal well beyond any small circle of listeners.

Watch Gwen Burgett perform Viaño's "Khan Variations" on video below.