ABEL Time and Distance
Mark Abel’s fourth CD on Delos is rich in those moments of inspiration when a composer first comes under the spell of poetry. His marriages of subtly charged music with an eclectic modernist twist to emotionally provocative, introspective texts work best in Those Who Loved Medusa, set to Kate Gale’s haunting poem, in which Hila Plitmann gloriously evokes Medusa deep in a lover’s night: ‘Turn me into that thing you fear. Make me monster … wet, ripe, swollen.’ While Delos founding director Carol Rosenberger, returning to the recording studios for the first time in recent years, infuses the involving piano part with characteristic chaste beauty, percussionist Bruce Carver adds whisks and whips of colour to the feminist drama.
Also notable is In the Rear-View Mirror, Now, a nod to vintage Hollywood set to the composer’s own poems, with Tali Tadmor taking over at the piano and Abel adding ambience and a unique lyrical line at the organ. The second in the cycle, ‘The World Clock’, is a bittersweet, politically tinged paean to San Francisco before it was taken over by Silicon Valley millionaires. The third, ‘The Nature of Friendship’, includes tips of the hat to Barbra Streisand’s old Broadway hit ‘People’ and a snatch from Berg’s Lulu.
Abel heads in another direction with The Ocean of Forgiveness, exploring intimate poems of love, desolation and reconciliation by Joanne Regenhardt in quiet, moving ways. The opening and closing tracks are less memorable. Recorded at the Bridge studios in Glendale, California, the sound is always natural and gorgeous.