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Album at a Glance

Somewhat Atonal or DissonantOrchestralConcerto
Fleur de Son Record Label - Fleur de Son Classics: "Constantly seeking new and exciting projects through which classical musicians and composers may express themselves in chamber music, solo repertoire, early music and works for orchestra."
Release date: 2011-03-29

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Three Cabinets of Wonder – Orchestral Music of Michael Colina

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Composer Michael Colina's background reads unlike any other composer I've ever heard of. Neither a performing musician nor a student of music, he entered his new career as a composer some eight years ago after 25 years of producing recordings and writing music for some of the greatest talents of contemporary jazz. He states that he is now writing the music he loves and wants to hear.

Influences of interests, life and learning include a tropical paradise in Cuba and the beaches of South Carolina, Santería drumming, Aretha Franklin, James Brown, gospel music, hill-billy flat pick'n, the strings of Montovani, Gershwin, Prokofiev, Stravinsky and Penderecki. When you listen to his music, it's curious how all of this makes sense, and none of it does at all.

The three works on this CD are quite diverse in character, so it is difficult to speak in generalities about the music. The first on the disc, and the title of the album is Three Cabinets of Wonder, a concerto for violin. It is the most challenging of the three to a conservative ear, but still very lyrical, fascinating and powerful, if strange. The second, a guitar concerto titled Goyescanna is then the most tonally conservative, and very much so - dreamy and romantic with Spanish hues. It's a beautiful concerto.

The most powerful work on the disc is the final one, Los Caprichos, born of the composer's appall with the photos and sound bites of waterboarding sessions conducted at Abu Ghraib. Each of the twelve movements is based upon an image from the prison, "to provide structure for the composition" says the composer. The orchestration is fascinating. I've never heard trombone glissandi so musically scored or executed, nor a siren, nor a slide-whistle.

Performances are excellent. Mr. Colina has the London Symphony Orchestra under Ira Levin at his service, and two excellent soloists: Guitarist Michael Andraccio and violinist Anastasia Khitruk. We must encourage this composer to continue writing.