New Music: D.J. Sparr: Electric Bands (Innova Recordings - January 25, 2019)

New Music:
D.J. Sparr: Electric Bands
(Innova Recordings - January 25, 2019)

Composers: D. J. Sparr
Performers: D. J. Sparr; Kristina Bachrach; Hajnal Kármán Pivnick; Brianna Matzke; Momenta Quartet; Karen Strittmatter Galvin; Shawn Galvin; Kimberly Sparr; Jake Wenger; Mark Morton

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Electric Bands brings together four of Baltimore-bsaed guitarist/composer D.J. Sparr's works for what he calls electronically-improved chamber ensembles. The creative format results in fascinating combinations and effects.

Beautifully spare and evocative, I Can Hear Her Through The Thin Wall Singing pairs soprano Kristina Bachrach with Sparr on the electric guitar. It's a piece that shimmers with emotion, and the seemingly curious juxtaposition of growling electric guitar and Bachrach's gorgeous pure tone blends quite well in reality. Brooklyn poet Patrick Phillips provides the lyrics for this reimagining of a Debussy song cycle with contemporary electric guitar.

Meta444 combines violin, piano, and electronics has a hypnotic quality, meant to act as a kind of ritual music for an imaginary religion. It was inspired by a conversation between Killer Mike and Stephen Colbert on the latter's show. Earthcaster Suite includes banjo, Tibetan bowls, mandolin, organ, and strings, and was composed for a documentary about artist Thomas Sayre.

His string quartet, Avaloch, for the Momenta Quartet, was inspired by Avaloch Farm Music Institute, New Hampshire, with its apple orchards. The piece envisages that farm as a stress-free place of joy and peace.

Sparr has composed for and performed with renowned ensembles such as the London Symphony, Cabrillo Festival, New World Symphony, Washington National Opera, and Eighth Blackbird. His music has received awards from BMI, New Music USA, and the League of Composers/ISCM. Sparr is a faculty member at the famed Walden School’s Creative Musicians Retreat in Dublin, New Hampshire.