This Navonna release is the follow-up to Alberga’s String Quartet album. And it solidifies her reputation in the realm of chamber music. The four compositions in the program span about twenty-two years, and an equally wide range of subjects. The disc opens and closes with works for violin and piano. The performers are Eleanor Alberger, piano, and her husband Thomas Bowes, violin. The chemistry between the two adds depth to their performances.
“No-Man’s Land Lullaby” (1997) references World War I. As the title suggests, this is a disquieting lullaby. The harmonies waver with interment tonality, and the melody is a subtly distortion of Brahms’ tune. Effective and evocative.
The second piece for violin and piano “Wild Blue Yonder” was written two years later. Alberga’s voice seems stronger, developing the rhythmic elements that are a major part of her style.
The other two works are for string quartet plus one. For “Succubus Moon” (2007), that’s the oboe. For “Shining Gate of Morpheus” (2012), it’s a horn.
Succubi are a seductive nocturnal manifestation of evil. Alberga’s melodies for the oboe have a seductiveness to them. “Shining Gate of Morpheus” is, by contrast, a more calming work. Instead of agitation, we get pleasant bustling. Morpheus is the god of sleep. It seems like he’s inviting the listener to rest a spell and have a pleasant dream.
This is a good companion release to Alberga’s string quartet album. Now what I’d really like to hear is some of her large-scale works.
Eleanor Alberga: Wild Blue Yonder
Thomas Bowes, violin; Richard Watkins, horn; Nicholas Daniel, oboe; Eleanor Alberga, piano