…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.
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.
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.
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.
Let’s ring the bells for today’s new tune, since the New Year is just around the corner!
“Resplendence” is a five-and-a-half minute long work for 3.5 octave handbell choir. Composed in 2014, I used the opportunity to experiment with various sorts of combinatoriality (I really dig playing with aggregates!). I found that bells are a great way to experiment with such serialism because, like with a piano, the pitches are definite; the players can’t tweak them. And the resonant quality of the bells gives off such a glorious shower of shimmering sound!
Unfortunately no group has tackled this piece yet (but that may change in the coming year…) and, also unfortunately, no midi sound package I have access to contains all 3.5 octaves or bells. So in this recording, you’ll hear some piano with the bells… Use your imagination and envision the full handbell choir covering all those notes…
**And seriously, if you know of an advanced handbell group that might be interested in playing this piece for the first time (A World Premier!) hit me up! 🙂
Enjoy listening to the demo below…
“Resplendence” can be performed by an experienced ensemble with advanced ability. Get the sheet music here! And stay tuned for our new work of next week…
Need a place to celebrate and reflect upon the Christmas Story this Christmas Season, complete with community carol-singing and candle-lighting? Come join us at His Way Community Church in Santa Clarita (CA), December 24th, 5pm-6pm!
This year’s Christmas Eve Service will include a music trio of piano, violin and cello playing some popular Christmas Carols, a Christmas story reading and a candlelight singing of Silent Night.
All music will be specially composed and arranged by Sarah, and will be performed by Sarah on violin, Taylor Arnone on cello, and Mike Jung on piano.