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Augusta Read Thomas

Publisher: G. Schirmer

Prairie Sketches I.... diamonds on orchid velvet... (2004)
Text Writer
Susan Zimmerman
G Schirmer Inc
Chorus and Orchestra/Ensemble
Year Composed
15 Minutes
Chorus (3-5 women or 6-18 children)
Purchase CD
Programme Note
Augusta Read Thomas Prairie Sketches I.... diamonds on orchid velvet... (2004)

  • Ensemble
    Calisto Ensemble
    Tony Arnold, soprano; Amy Briggs Dissanayake, piano
    Cliff Colnot
    Augusta Read Thomas:
Fortunate and few are the contemporary composers whose works have been documented in a timely manner. But Augusta Read Thomas provides a shining example of self-reliance. She is among the most commissioned and most performed of American composers, yet her representation on disc long lagged her prolific output. Two years ago Ms. Thomas took matters into her own hands, bravely financing and releasing a disc of two pieces for large ensembles. Last June she released that disc with an additional work; now she follows it with a collection of chamber pieces. Ms. Thomas's compositional idiom is one of modernist complexity, yet the sheer delight she takes in exploring instrumental sonorities proves infectious. Members of the Callisto Ensemble, a string quartet, bring out poetry and drama in a series of brief pieces for one or two players. Rumi Songs in particular evokes the Persian mystic's characteristic ecstasy in a passionate dialog for violin and cello. Amy Briggs Dissanayake offers elegant, precisely shaded accounts of Ms. Thomas's attractive Piano Etudes, presented in three contrasting. interrelated pairs. Ms. Thomas once again demonstrates her knack for illuminating text with colorful, evocative gestures in two works for soprano and an ensemble of winds, strings, piano and percussion. Bubble: Rainbow - (spirit level), composed for Elliott Carter's 95th birthday, is a bristling, eruptive setting of passages by Elizabeth Bishop and Emily Dickenson. In Prairie Sketches I, which includes harp and a chorus of three female voices, Ms. Thomas revels in the poet Suzann Zimmerman's paean to a sweeping Kansas landscape with music by turns radiant and ethereal. Tony Arnold, a soprano who specializes in contemporary music, handles Ms. Thomas's leaping vocal lines with intensity and assurance.
Steve Smith, The New York Times ,10/12/2006
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