The inestimable Gail Wein has been keeping us well supplied with music not only new by stylistic definition but new to many listeners as well. A case in point is the Present Music release of three works by the late American composer Henry Brant, whose Wind, Water, Clouds and Fire, Litany of Tides, and Trinity of Spheres defy easy categorizing, but whose intriguing sounds clearly place them well outside the well-trodden music mainstream.

The three works by Brant are included in the CD Henry Brant Collection Vol. 3. and also, available as a download on various platforms. I am not certain of who the specific performers of each of these fascinating works are – Daniel Kobialka, Present Music, San Jose Symphony, and Denver Symphony are variously credited – but I am certainly sure of the impact that Henry Brant’s compositions have made on me.

With a unique, loosely atonal sound that ignores traditional notions of melody, harmony, or counterpoint, and defined by their composer as spatial music, the precise positioning and physical distance between the performers is intrinsic to the Brand’s intentions. The delicate throughout Wind, Water, Clouds and Fire, with its gentle use of the pre-pubescent sound of children’s choir, has an air of gentle innocence in this one-movement, subtly melodic work.

Litany of Tides begins boldly with a percussive brand of Americana tinged with mocking irony that eventually morphs into a panoply of ominously anguished moments in the strings and brass.

Trinity of Spheres, like the other two compositions in the album, is a substantial and lengthy work that explores off-the-beaten path sonorities.

More like this, please!

Rafael de Acha © 2022

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