Neil Rolnick: Gardening at Gropius House

Not too many bands are headed by a guy that leads with a laptop computer, but that’s what Neil Rolnick does. Is this going to be a new category in Downbeat? Anyway, this release is divided into two parts and two separate half hour opuses. The first one, the title track is conducted by Alan Pierson and consists of a classical woodwind ensemble along with Todd Reynolds solo violin and a trio of piano, bass and percussion. There are many intriguing movements in this  piece, with the brass and reed harmonies reminiscent of Glazunov’s better works.

The 29+ minute Anosmia is a whole different concept. Performed with the New Music Ensemble of the SF Conservatory of Music, it’s conducted by Nicole  Paiement and features vocals by Maya Kherani/sop, Carrie Zhang/algo and Daniel Cilli/bar. Spoken and singing veer in and out of this story about the loss of the sense of smell. Not exactly a topic that Lorenzo da Ponte might find essential, but it actually does hold your interest. The delivery is 20th-21st Century modern, so you aren’t going to get Madrigals. Both pieces are forward looking and clever.

Innova Records

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