The Russian composer Elena Langer, now resident in Britain, draws on influences from her native country (Shostakovich, especially in the chamber orchestration of these songs), from Britain (from Britten to Thomas Adès), and from continental Europe. As a song composer she is able to convey lightness even when dealing with serious material such as the title song cycle setting poems by Lee Harwood (most of the songs on the album are in English). These songs subtly depict love triangles, some of them with both straight and gay elements. Even better are the genuinely playful pieces.
World-renowned as one of experimental music's most vital and impressionistic composers of the past few decades, William Basinski’s tape loop works have been especially influential, particularly on the historic series, The Disintegration Loops, where distorted, orchestral tape samples burrow deep into the listener's psyche through meditative repetition. On his new album, A Shadow in Time, Basinski plunges deeper than ever for the plaintive, solitary eulogy to David Bowie, aptly titled For David Robert Jones. Conversely, the title track, A Shadow in Time, is a subtle, celestial escalation of melody and drone. The result is one of the most truly transcendent pieces of music he has ever committed to – or wrung from – tape.
Ornate, opulent, majestic: Handel's music truly exemplifies the Baroque in its elaborate monumentality, which many listeners associate with his vast, dramatic oratorios. Perhaps lesser known, but hardly less significant is Handel's chamber music, which reveals a different kind of artistry, an intimately refined facet of the Baroque spirit. The contrast between the monumental and the intimate in Handel's music is especially interesting since he cultivated chamber music throughout his career, composing works that reflected the development of his style from its Italianate beginnings to the ultimate richness of his late idiom.