In 1929 archaeologists discovered graves from 4,500 years ago that appeared to be a mass suicide. In the corner of the room were the remains of the Gold Lyre of Ur, the arms of someone presumably its last player, draped over it.
Mauldin's orchestral piece was intended by Andrew Lowings as a gift to an orchestra in Iraq but it became apparent that conditions in the country meant that they would not be able to play it, so this recording was organised. It is basically and EP, with just the Last Musician of Ur on it.
Composer Michael Maultin was born in Texas but has lived in New Mexico since the 1970's. His involvement with the power and beauty of the New Mexico desert perhaps would to to qualify him to have sympathy with a work set in the Iraqi desert.
|The Gold Lyre of Ur|
The closing sections include references to the oldest known piece of written music which Mauldin included, in Anne Kilmer's transcription, at a late stage of the composition process. Mauldin found that the new music fitted with his existing conception in a way that was spooky.
The result is evocative and richly orchestrated. There are lots of exotic touches to the harmony which evoke distant climes. The balance with the harp at the opening left me wondering whether a little technological help had been applied. But the way the instrument is spotlit, but wanders in an out of focus is quite magical, as is the passage where the instruments drop away. Overall the piece has a rather mid-20th century feel, with hints of French influence, and a distinctly Respighian element to the orchestration.
The performance from Petr Vlonsky and the Moravian Philharmonic Orchestra is exemplary. I do hope that the piece eventually finds its home in Iraq, but in the meantime this recording is an admirable testament.
Michael MAULDIN (born 1947) - The Last Musician of Ur [6.58]
Moravian Philharmonic Orchestra
Petr Vronsky (conductor)
Recorded Feb 29, 2012 at Reduta Hall, Olomuc, Czech Republic
NAVONA RECORDS 5891
Elsewhere on this blog:
- Well meaning confustion - creating today's Carmen
- Passion and discipline - Russion Virtuosi of Europe at Cadogan Hall
- Creating socially responsible individuals as well as musicians - In Harmony Sistema England
- Christine Brewer at the Wimbledon Music Festival
- The Natural History of the Piano
- CD Review - Coro Allegro - In Paradisum