Stewart Goodyear’s composition Congotay is performed on the Bright Shiny Things release Phoenix. Inspired by the Caribbean musical style “mento,” and by Goodyear’s Trinidadian heritage, Congotay is an expression that means ”the time will come when one will have to pay for one’s misdeeds.” Residents of Trinidad refer to their home as a “Callaloo” – a place “composed of people of various backgrounds and religions blending together to create an authentic urban flavor.” Panorama comes from Stewart Goodyear’s suite Callaloo.

Jennifer Higdon’s Secret and Glass Gardens, is called by its composer “a journey of wonder and discovery” that “reflects the paths of our hearts”  and in turn reflects Higdon’s unendingly imaginative output.

Anthony Davis’s Middle Passage was inspired by a poem of the same name by Robert Hayden concerning the voyages of slave ships to the Americas: a “voyage through death to life upon these shores… that speaks to the essential irony of our people and culture born of the horror of slavery.”

Goodyear’s renditions of Debussy’s L’isle joyeuse and La cathédrale engloutie, and Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition, complete the Bright Shiny Things release.

Claude Debussy’s brief prelude La Cathedral Engloutie is based on the ancient Breton myth of Ys, in which a cathedral, submerged underwater rises up from the sea on bright mornings when the water is clear. Debussy uses unusual harmonies and massive chords to give musical life to the legend. In the 1904 L’isle joyeuse (The Joyful Island) Debussy uses a lengthier piano composition to create a musical abstraction to convey unalloyed joy.

Modest Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition is an 1874  suite for piano made up of a dozen pieces linked by a recurring, varied Promenade. The composition – a test piece for pianists – was based on paintings by Mussorgsky’s friend, the artist architect, and designer Viktor Hartmann. Its movements are: The Gnome, The Old Castle, Children’s Games, Bydlo, Dance of Un-hatched Chicks, Samuel Goldenberg, Market at Limoges, Catacombs, Dead Language, Baba Yaga, Great Gate at Kiev, and Panorama.

Incisive and percussive in his own two compositions, razor sharp in his take on Anthony Davis’s Middle Passage, utterly lyrical in Jennifer Higdon’s Secret and Glass Gardens, boldly assertive and fully in command of Debussy’s contrasting L’isle joyeuse and La cathédrale engloutie, and capable of a multitude of colors in Pictures at an Exhibition, Stewart Goodyear is simply incapable of repeating himself. He is the complete musician: an imaginative composer who delivers an authentic, original sound unlike any other composer’s, and a technically and interpretatively larger than life artist.

As with all of its releases, Bright Shiny Things once more delivers a first class product, faultlessly engineered and impeccably produced.

Rafael de Acha    ALL ABOUT THE ARTS