John Luther Adams has finally earned long-overdue recognition for his achievements as a composer, thanks largely to the acclaim awarded to pieces like his Inuksuit for percussion ensemble and Become Ocean for symphony orchestra, works that call upon great, crashing waves of sound, slowly transforming over long periods of time. Of course, his oeuvre extends far beyond these works, including piano solos of more moderate length. As Lisa Moore demonstrates on her latest album, even these relatively miniature works offer a vast majesty of scale that compares to the more obviously ambitious works he has written for larger resources.
Moore is a bonafide star on the ivories — a former Bang on a Can All-Star, in fact — and on this new recording, “The Stone People,” she shines with an almost unbearable intensity. The three Adams works — Tukiliit, Among Red Mountains and Nunatacks — are ensconced in a carefully selected program of complementary works, taking full advantage of her impressive power at the keyboard.
Like Adams’s music, the scores range from the delicate and hypnotic to the absolutely thunderous. Bang on a Can’s Julia Wolfe contributes muscular blasts of sound in herCompassion and, closing the album, the jewel-like Earring. Wolfe’s teacher (and Moore’s husband) Martin Bresnick offers Ishi’s Song, which, like Silabh Beagh by Moore’s fellow Australian Kate Moore (no relation), looks to the past and spins a melody sung by the pianist into a substantial and mesmerizing work.
Orrizonte, a brief but satisfying movement by Kate Moore’s celebrated American contemporary Missy Mazzoli, suspends a characteristically introspective musical moment from a chain of overlapping sine waves. What all these pieces have in common is the use of simple, even elemental materials to gesture at something awe-inspiringly vast: the far-off horizon, the passage of years or the incalculable human soul.
“Lisa Moore: The Stone People”
Cantaloupe Music | Released Feb. 12