In a world premiere, Albany Records’ Blue and Green Music features a compelling composition for string quartet by the same title. It is featured along with Dreams of Flying, also for string quartet, both works by the distinguished American composer Victoria Bond.
Blue and Green Music, commissioned by the Cassatt Quartet through a Chamber Music America commissioning grant, is seriously intense, at most times consonant, occasionally atonal, yet subtly melodic, and, as the plant that the Georgia O’Keefe painting of the same title depicts, it is firmly connected to the dessert ground in which it miraculously blooms.
Bond’s Blue and Green Music is an intriguingly compelling composition that throughout four movements lasting approximately fifteen minutes, evokes in its sometimes otherworldly, elsewhere joyful music the colors of a painting by Georgia O’Keeffe. The composer writes of her impression of O’Keeffe’s artwork as being filled with music, and of how by using two distinct motifs, each representing the blue and the green of the painting, she sought to convey the essence of those colors through her music, in her words “intended to evoke rather than describe.”
Victoria Bond’s hauntingly complex yet enchantingly playful Dreams of Flying is another imaginative work for string quartet that in music that soars, and floats untethered evokes dreams of flying. The Cassatt Quartet, integrated by violinists Muneko Otani and Jennifer Leshnower, violist Ah Ling Neu and cellist Elizabeth Anderson play Bond’s challenging works with finesse, firm technique, and impeccable musicality.
From an Antique Land, an inspired setting of poems by Edna St. Vincent Millay, Percy Shelley, and Gerard Manley Hopkins, provides lyrical musings on memory. Art and Science is an offbeat setting of a letter of Albert Einstein. Both works evidence Victoria Bond’s familiarity with the potential of the human voice, offering the fine baritone Michael Kelly and the excellent collaborative pianist Bradley Moore a good opportunity to excel in a varied sampling of songs.
Victoria Bond’s album of works for string quartet and several compositions for piano and voice is a gem long awaited and now available from Albany Records.
Rafael de Acha © 2023