…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.
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.
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.
My good friend, Adrienne Andisheh, and I got together yesterday to start practicing the two violin parts for our recording session of “Weeping Willow” on Dec 18! This video was only the second time we ran it together; we still have some spots to iron out, but I was super impressed by how quickly it’s coming together, and HOW FUN it is to play!!!
Just had to mention in a quick review here, how much fun and a sense of accomplishment I’ve been gaining since returning to a once-dreaded pastime during practice… Scales!….
I had gotten the inspiration from doing some reading about, to return to an old volume by Ivan Galamian called, “Contemporary Violin Technique, Volume One.” My violin teacher and mentor had given this volume to me as a gift years ago, and — wouldn’t you know it — of course I hardly paid it any attention at the time, until now…
And I’m so glad I’ve gone back to incorporating it into my practice routine! Lately, I’ve been working through the four octave scale pages, just keeping it slow and simple, striving for fluidity and accuracy. I really only have scratched the surface, but I can already feel the security and solidarity my technique is gaining by simply running up and down the fingerboard with these scales.
Do it, kids, seriously. Don’t neglect your scales… And, I HIGHLY recommend getting them via this Galamian book — the fingering options are great, the construction of moving from one key to the next without a stop within an exercise, and — the most unique part of this system — the myriad options of rhythm and bowings you can apply to any given exercise!
Don’t underestimate the power of Smart Scale Work!