The good people at NEUMA RECORDS ( just sent us three CD’s about to be released later this early-Spring month of March of 2002.

The music of composer Nick Vasallo is excellently represented in the compellingly titled APOPHANY.

Several ensembles do very well by Vasallo’s eclectically varied music: some of it acoustic, some electronic, some a mix of both.

The CD’s nine tracks bear titles that hint at the sometimes turbulent, sometimes peaceful music therein. Ein Sof features the University of the Pacific Symphony Orchestra at full sonic throttle, and When the War Began uses the forces of the terrific Redshift Ensemble. The Washington State University Concert Choir with soloist Rorigo Cortes sing hypnotically in the unaccompanied The Prophecy.

Eschewing traditional notions of melody, harmony, counterpoint, tonality, or orchestration, Vasallo’s sonic landscapes challenge complacency appealing instead to a visceral response from the listener with music that may be liked or disliked but not ignored.


Pianist-composer Daniel Pesca creates enchanting musical landscapes in his album PROMONTORY, utilizing his own music and that of composers Aaron Travers, Alison Yun-Fei Jiang, and Augusta Read Thomas.

Jiang’s 2017 ISLES is essentially a Romantic, yet atonal work with roots in a kind of Debussy world that utilizes mostly the upper octaves of the piano in tonal painting that ranges from the crystalline As Birds Bring Forth the Sun to the dramatic Salt, to the restless Undercurrents.

Thomas’ enticing BELL ILLUMINATIONS brings to mind with its delicate sonorities the bare-bone miniatures of Anton Webern.

Throughout the music of his fellow composers, Daniel Pesca is an ever faithful interpreter who then becomes the perfect composer-virtuoso pianist in the whimsical Watercolors and in the wider ranging, seven-part Hyde Park Boulevard, an ambitious mini-tone poem for the keyboard in which he summons his impressive technical equipment, executing ostinato figures and diving into massive cluster chords, all the while drawing myriad colors from his instrument in structures that include traditional capriccios and scherzos, all given a new spin.


IN HER WORDS is the title of composer Stefania de Kenessey’s album of dance pieces utilizing electronic music created for Ariel Rivka Dance. An intriguing work that occasionally uses the spoken word, IN HER WORDS is meant to accompany the art of Dance, but it is nevertheless a series of melodic compositions deserving to be listened to as stand-alone creations.

Neuma Records’ Phillip Blackburn designed the beautifully-packaged CD’s that also boast first-class engineering.

Rafael de Acha     ALL ABOUT THE ARTS