Album Remarks & Appraisals:
Eurydice is the incidental music composed for Sarah Ruhl's play of the same name, produced in 2008 for the Wilma Theatre in Phildelphia, PA and directed by Blanka Zizka. The play recounts the classic story of Orpheus and Eurdyice, though this time from Eurydice's point of view. Toby Twining is the 2008 recipient of the Barrymore Award for Original Music. He has been featured on NPR's "All Things Considered" and "A Prairie Home Companion" with Garrison Keillor.
Recording information: Fifth Stone Studios, Philadelphia, PA.
Toby Twining is a genuine American original. Like many composers of his generation who emerged in the late 20th century, he was classically trained in contemporary techniques and incorporated them in music also influenced by jazz and rock, but he works almost exclusively with voices and is one of the few composers (along with Meredith Monk) who has developed a uniquely individual approach to vocal minimalism and post-minimalism. He studied with Ben Johnston, who had worked with Harry Partch, and much of Twining's work incorporates Partch's principles of microtonal tunings. He also employs an inventive and colorful variety of non-traditional vocal sounds, some taken from other cultures. He puts all this together with melodies and harmonies of exceptional sweetness (and sometimes exceptional strangeness) to create a sound that is not like any other. Using a vocal quintet, here augmented with a cello, Twining creates incidental music for Eurydice, a modern re-telling of the Orpheus legend by playwright Sarah Ruhl. It's a little hard to imagine how music of this distinctiveness wouldn't draw all attention away from what was going on on-stage, but it's a fabulous, mysterious aural experience. Twining and his virtuosic performers sing and play with remarkable precision, sometimes projecting enormous power and sometimes diaphanous fragility. The sound is very clean, nicely atmospheric, and realistically present. The music has such immediate appeal and is so emotionally expressive that the album can be appreciated by traditional listeners willing to dip their toes into music from off the beaten path, as well as die-hard fans of the avant-garde. Highly recommended. ~ Stephen Eddins