Sometimes the idea behind the music is just as interesting as the music itself…the music on this album “…explores the relationships between mechanical structures, organic beauty, and identity.” …Wallin Huff presents three unusual compositions that tackle some intriguing ideas and topics… Her music is quite complex and unusual and yet…very easy to absorb and appreciate. There’s a lot to take in here… Our favorite is the wonderfully moody and subtle “Gypsy Wanderer”…nothing short of breathtaking.
It is the third piece “The Oracle” that is the crème de la for me with its incredible depth and creative complexity. Dynamics take deep hold here with sudden bursts and calming moments. I really hear the room when flute and clarinet parts elevate along with the brilliant staccato keyboard hits. There are moments when time seems to fall apart and then strings back together in a wonderful interplay among the musicians.
…the [Book of I] soundtrack composed by Sarah Wallin Huff stands out as both a powerful album, taking its listener on an emotional journey of beauty, despair, and hope, as well as a fascinating study of the composer’s visceral and intellectual connection to the source material. Featuring the stellar work of musicians Darrell Peries, Caleb Barnes, Cathy Alonzo, Jenna Ford, Lainey Elizabeth White, Brett Bird, Jonatas Mostacato, Ayla Draper, and [Wallin] Huff herself, the album is a stunning collection of gorgeous, orchestral selections comprised mostly of string instruments that are, at times, vividly haunting but always entirely engrossing. [Wallin] Huff, who previously released her own album, Soul of the Machine, earlier this year, clearly has a passion and a gift for sharing every ounce of her mind, body, and soul with the listener, as if providing a warm invitation for the listener to share the same in response.
Sarah’s music has a classy, understated sound, yet it is baroque and ornate, tipping the hat off to genius composers like Debussy, but also tipping the hat off experimental ideas and cinematic scores. Opening number “Intrepid” is a very dynamic composition with a unique color, almost echoing the work of modern composers like Yann Tiersen.
Weeping Willow, featuring “Michael Jung,” is one of our favorite tracks on this release. I love the romantic, dramatic high notes of the string section, as well as the timeless sound of the sparse piano melodies, almost flirting with shades of Tango, in the vein of Astor Piazzolla. A true masterpiece, with so many nuances. The album is also home to a suite extending over 3 tracks, “Leviathan of the Ancient Deep.” These songs also features ambient samples, as well as electronic elements and ornate percussions, making for a really diverse set of colors.
Based on a set of traditional Scottish tunes, this 5.5 minute long work is a sweeping journey of melody, color, and heart. Beginning somberly with a single violin, it soon opens up and begins driving forward. Each consecutive tune increases in tempo and ferocity until the set ends in a passionate, victorious rendition of the title tune, “Bonnie Prince Charlie.” Though the melodies reflect the ageless tunes on which they’re based, the chords and harmony parts are all original, bringing the classic fiddle sound into a fresh, modern light.
This work took a long time to put together, in the sense that I grew up “fiddling around” on each of these traditional tunes, and others. So I guess this medley is sort of a microcosm of my joyful foray into traditional Celtic music throughout my youth. I eventually had an opportunity to use the ending arrangement of “Bonnie Prince Charlie” with another song that I was playing with a band. And from there, it just evolved into this awesomely fun work!
There are currently two versions of the sheet music available:
Evoking the driving forces of metamorphosis and migration, INTREPID is a cinematic Fantasy for soloist on oboe and english horn, with small chamber orchestra accompaniment. It is rich in color and texture, persistently forward-moving on its sweeping journey.
Completed in 2015, this work consists of a rather unusual ensemble, as it was written for a very specific group in mind. But, in fact, I love how this unique texture plays into all the richness of color and harmony as well as transparency. This is definitely one of my favorite works; I love the melody and harmonies… someday I hope to re-record it with an expert group. 🙂
[C]ompleted in April of 2013, the originating sketches for this four-movement work existed as early as 2008, and were a part of Wallin Huff’s first graduate lessons in composition, while studying under Dr. Mark Carlson. “Gypsy Wanderer” is a unique addition to Wallin Huff’s repertoire in that it is an early exploration of patterns, color, and formula.
The nature of the four movements can be described in affect as follows: I. Irreverently: dance-like and fluid; II. Grave: surreal and sublime; III. Con brio: diligent and determined; IV. Rapide: passionate yet controlled. The work is riveting and soulful in its earthy and irreverent, rhythmic and harmonic wanderings.
I have had the privilege of playing this sonata, in whole and in part, several times, and each time I play it I discover something new about it as a violinist. The unexpected dichotomy of approaching a piece (especially one of my later works) as a musician versus a composer continues to fascinate me. 🙂
I am immensely grateful to sisters Maria Wozniakiewicz and Karolina Rojahn for their excellent and pristine performance of this work on the Navona album, “Soul of the Machine.” And, of course, many thanks to Parma Recordings and all others who contributed to make this album possible!
Enjoy Maria’s and Karolina’s performance of “Gypsy Wanderer” below!
“Gypsy Wanderer” can be performed by anyone with advanced ability. Get the sheet music here! And stay tuned for our featured work next week…
This little song for mezzo-soprano, string quartet, and piano was written back in 2002. I recall originally composing its melody and words by hand while on one of my music tours (“Pittsburgh Melody” was another such song, written while we were, quite literally, driving through Pittsburgh…).
In 2003 I took a chance and entered “Face in the Moonlight” into that year’s BMI John Lennon Song Writing Contest and surprised and thrilled to find that it was selected as a State Finalist Winner! It was certainly a boost of encouragement to me. 🙂 Likewise, some years later, a friend of mine who was acting as a missionary in Israel wrote me a note to let me know that she had introduced her congregation to this song, and that it had become a favorite.
I hope you also find enjoyment, listening to this charming tune. 🙂
“Face in the Moonlight” can be performed by anyone with intermediate ability. Get the sheet music here! And stay tuned for our featured work next week…
Just in time for Christmas– with two brand spankin’ new holiday songs to get you in the mood! 😉
ESOTERICA invites the listener to journey through arcane mists of time and diverse worlds of sound. From one of Wallin Huff’s earliest works, “Pegasus,” to her latest work, “Weeping Willow,” this album is woven together from the threads of intimate chamber music, sweeping orchestral works, and even some modern electronica. With “Now Winter Nights Enlarge,” a scene of bacchanal youth during Wintertime Festivities excites the imagination, while “Christmas Wayfarer” follows original adaptations of traditional winter carols across a thrilling journey across the world. “Wings of the Four Seasons” retells a traditional Japanese tale by way of treble-and-alto string trio; “Butterfly Lullaby” soothes troubled nightmares with the Native American symbolism of the butterfly as bringer of Hope; “Introit” and “Song of the Golden Spiral” transport to alternate planes of reality entirely. A mystical aura breathes throughout ESOTERICA, surrounding the spirit with wonder.