July Releases on Navona and Ravello Records

Michael J. Evans

Oftentimes in our technology-driven global society, words can become obscured in meanings and associations depending on how they are interpreted or translated. On the other hand, music in its abstraction often can prompt more concrete interpretations. Composer Michael J. Evans explores the relationships between words, music, and meaning on his latest release on Navona Records, CIPHER. 

A spoken word excerpt from Felix Mendelssohn, which has been translated several times from English to another language and back again, introduces the work and comments on the inadequacy of words as a means of expression compared to music. The words fade into a section of theme and variations, where the theme is borrowed from one of Mendelssohn’s Songs Without Words. For Evans, the form of theme and variations is “an exploration of unrealized potential or futures of an idea or theme.” Throughout the variations, Evans makes references to Bach, Scott Joplin, Satie, Chopin, Debussy, and others, illustrating how an idea can be translated differently through the voices of various composers. Read More
Sydney Hodkinson

Composer Sydney Hodkinson’s second Navona Records release, A KEYBOARD ODYSSEY, is a journey through the world of the solo keyboard, exploring the versatility and spirit of both the piano and organ through the composer’s perceptive style. 

Mini-Rag, for Right Hand Alone is a playful rag-style miniature, paying tribute to Minnie Mouse as well as Scott Joplin and other ragtime players. Organmusic, a set of six “tableaux” for organ, presents ironic musical characters with liturgical, plainchant, and secular themes. Like much of the album, the two pieces from Snapshots – a collection of “crumbs” from a larger keyboard work – illustrate Hodkinson’s penchant for compositional diversity. The movement “…a strange dream” is impressionistic, with moments that blend ambiguity and clarity, while “…a faded dance” is reminiscent of a waltz from a past era. The compositions travel through various time periods and genres yet clearly maintain a creative and postmodern signature that is recognizable in Hodkinson’s works. Read More

Greg Bowers

RATIONAL PASSIONS, Greg Bowers’ debut release on Navona Records, takes its listeners on a trip through the psychological world of music. Each piece explores the relationship between the notes played and the emotions experienced, suggesting that emotional meaning can be rationalized. Gestalt Figures uses grouping laws to show how the listener will approximate the piece as a whole by the connections between its parts, suggesting the true function of the composer and listener. String Quartet No. 2: By-Products of Mass Media depicts three movements in pop culture: the intense experience of rave music, the erratic nature of channel surfing, and the accessible convenience of online surfing. In Perception Etudes, Bowers examines the musical experience as a whole and how each element – the audience, the performer, the musical tension and dynamics – is internalized, understood, and communicated. Read More

Matthew Malsky

An individual’s experiences might well be laid out like a map: some moments connected to others, some isolated, and still some yet to be explored. Composer Matthew Malsky creates an aural map of emotions on his debut Ravello release, GEOGRAPHIES & GEOMETRIES. The composer remarks, “More specifically, in composing I’m trying to adapt the sensations and the emotional responses evoked by particular places and incidents (real or imagined) into sonic form.” 

In Archipelago of Regrets, each variation of the theme illustrates a part of the experience of disenchantment, ending in quiet resolution. -42.489° 108.756° (elegy), an elegy for two violas, is in the form of a palindrome in which after the climax, the piece runs backwards, undoing what came before as if prematurely ending. Read More

Various Artists

Ravello Records is pleased to announce the first installment of its compilation series, VANGUARDS VOL. 1, presenting a deep cross-section of the label’s contemporary and eclectic catalog. The album features performances by the London Symphony Orchestra, pianist Kate Boyd, the McCormick Percussion Group, the New Hudson Saxophone Quartet, pianist Amy Briggs, the Grammy-nominated Strung Out Trio, and many more in works by contemporary composers such as Alan Beeler, Stefan Poetzsch, Michael Veloso, Lisa Miles, Hubert Howe, Scott Brickman, Alan Schmitz, and others. Read More

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