Dream Vapors, selected works for orchestra is composer Rain Worthington’s first full-length solo CD on Navona Records (Navona 6025). The neatly-packaged CD, complete with press quotes and biographical information on the composer, features seven orchestral pieces ranging in length from little over six minutes to slightly longer than ten.
Evocatively titled, all seven of the compositions demand careful listening, while allowing one’s imagination to evoke images that intensely reflect what the music says.
The composer’s extensive website (www.rainworthington.com) includes read-only digital versions of the scores for several of the compositions included in the CD, something that immensely helps the understanding of her intentions and skills, including her ability to orchestrate both for large and chamber ensembles.
The titles of these compositions, even prior to listening give one an entry into the mind and sensibilities of Ms. Worthington. Shredding Glass, is the earliest piece in the CD, dating back to 2004.
As beautifully played by the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra, the composition effectively elicits eerie sonorities from the woodwinds at their highest register in contrast with rumbling statements from the basses and the timpani.
Rain Worthington offers no clues as to any of her compositional intentions, bathing all seven of these pieces in mysterious moods that range from the meditative and contemplative, as is the case with Reversing Mirrors in the Quiet to the wistful melancholy of Within a Dance, a Tone Poem of Love and the stillness of Yet Still Night, a Nocturne for Orchestra – these last two the only compositions to which she affixes a subtitle and a musical form name (tone poem, nocturne.)
The composer’s creations are inexhaustibly inventive, never at a loss for a surprising harmonic solution or a novel gesture in orchestration. At times one hears the influence of world music in moments of percussion, at other times a given turn of phrase in melody is deliberately repeated for emphasis, mining a bit the world of minimalism. But overall this is the work of an eclectic, sui-generis musical artist who walks to the beat of her own romantic heart and outside the parameters of contemporary music.
The various orchestras and conductors include the Moravian Philharmonic Orchestra (Petr Vronsky, conductor), the Russian Philharmonic Orchestra (Ovidiu Martinescu, conductor) and the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra (Robert Ian Winstin, conductor). All three are seasoned European ensembles equally at home in the Romanticism of the great Central European and Russian masters and in 21st century music. The conducting is first-rate and the fidelity and accuracy of the playing remarkable.
As is ever the case with Navona Records, the clarity and the integrity of the sound are faultless, all the more admirable considering that each of the seven tracks was laid down at different times in different parts of the world.
This is, to sum it up, an extraordinary sampler of the original work of an American composer fully deserving of this solo showcase.
We eagerly await more to come from Rain Worthington.
Rafael de Acha