The latest release by Gil Rose's Boston Modern Orchestra Project is a work they had performed a few seasons back in Boston, David Felder's Les Quatres Temps Cardinaux, which featured soprano Laura Aikin and bass Ethan Hershchenfeld with forty musicians from BMOP and a dozen channels of surround-sound electronics. It was the featured work on a triple bill in 2014, here recreated in its own unique form under Rose as the company's Artistic Director and Conductor. As Rose describes it, it's an unusual work in that it balances soloists, ensemble and electronics that is rare in orchestral pieces these days.
With an interweaving of texts by several poets, Felder has come up with an undeniably original context that would seem to profit from additional hearings. Felder has stated that he first came across the life and poetic works of poet Rene Daumal thanks to the biographical tome by Kathleen Ferrick Rosenblatt, and was especially drawn to the last of his poems, notably Les Quatres Temps Cardinaux, which he considered the poet's simplest and clearest expression of his own experiences. Felder spoke of his understanding of Daumal's concentration on a relationship and immersion in these poems and the poet himself, and how the sonic meaning and context of the poetic composition was presented in the mythic space of Daumal's ultimate works as well as those of other poets he references, namely Pablo Neruda, Robert Creeley, and Dana Gioia.
The title of this complex piece says it all, a celebration of the four “cardinal times of dawn, noon, sunset and midnight”. The work exemplifies the composer's well-known reputation for technological enhancement alongside musically lyrical expressions. In a brief (approximately forty-nine minutes in length) but broadly memorable compilation of a dozen stanzas and fragments, some recited but most sung or played, this should prove illuminating for anyone who appreciates the state of new music today.