Time to Burn — Judith Shatin’s third solo album for innova Recordings — presents a rich cross-section of her acoustic and electronic music. Called “highly inventive on every level; hugely enjoyable and deeply involving, with a constant sense of surprise” by The Washington Post, Shatin’s music combines vivid timbral hues with perceptually clear forms. “Glyph” (solo viola, string quartet and piano) opens the album with a soaring performance by violist James Dunham, the Cassatt String Quartet and pianist Margaret Kampmeier.
On the title track, masterful oboist Aaron Hill and percussionists I-Jen Fang and Mike Schutz capture the explosive world Shatin created in response to the turmoil around us. The remaining four pieces show her inventive exploration of electronics and her mastery of their combination with acoustic instruments. “Hosech Al P’ney HaTehom (Darkness Upon the Face of the Earth)” is about a world being born — out of the subterranean darkness, lightning; out of chaos, life. It is also about a new world of sound, a music constructed from the basic DNA of sound, modulated sine waves.
Next is “Grito del Corazón (Cry of the Heart),” inspired by Goya’s powerful Black Paintings and commissioned by Ensemble Barcelona Nova Música. This version, for two clarinets and electronics, is performed with electrifying clarity by F. Gerard Errante and D. Gause. “Sic Transit” extends the electronic realm in a new direction, pairing I-Jen Fang with computer-controlled acoustic instruments. Scored for percussionist and CADI (Computer Assisted Drumming Instrument) — with six computer-controlled robotic arms — the piece finds Shatin playing with different levels of control, just as the events of our lives sometimes seem within our own control and sometimes beyond our control.
The album closes with the Cassatt String Quartet’s affecting performance of “Elijah’s Chariot,” scored for amplified quartet and electronics made from processed shofar calls. Again, the music is suggestive of fire, this time the fiery chariot of Elijah rising up to Heaven.