Illumination: Piano Works of Victoria Bond
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Paul Barnes performs world premiere recording of Victoria Bond's new work based on Byzantine chant.

The compositions on this album represent more than 20 years of creative collaboration between composer Victoria Bond and pianist Paul Barnes. It began in 1999 with the recording of Black Light when Barnes first introduced Bond to the communion hymn Potirion Sotiriu. That started an exploration of three distinctive Byzantine chants. The two piano concertos were recorded earlier and are re-released here. All of these works are related to each other in that they are about the mystical quality of light. Victoria Bond leads a multifaceted career as composer, conductor, lecturer, and artistic director of Cutting Edge Concerts. Her works have been performed around the world and her recordings appear on numerous labels including Albany Records and Naxos. Pianist Paul Barnes continues to electrify audiences with his intensely expressive playing and cutting-edge programming.
Contents:
Victoria Bond, composer
Illuminations on Byzantine Chant
Paul Barnes (piano)

Victoria Bond, composer
Ancient Keys
Paul Barnes (piano); Slovak Radio Orchestra; Kirk Trevor (conductor)

Victoria Bond, composer
Black Light
Paul Barnes (piano); Philharmony Bohuslav Martinu; Kirk Trevor (conductor)

Traditional
Byzantine Chant
Paul Barnes (chanter)

Review:
“This album of chants and chantlike piano works by Victoria Bond, who is a composer and conductor, displays her deeply felt mystical sensibility. The intense performances are by Paul Barnes, who does double duty as pianist and chanter and has collaborated with Bond since 1999. A professional chanter in the Greek orthodox Church and a skillful pianist, he sings with haunting musicality in three tracks of traditional Byzantine Chant and a piano concerto, Ancient Keys and plays with fervid virtuosity in Illuminations on Byzantine Chant and Black Light (also a short piano concerto). The latter, which incorporates Black American motifs in the opening movement, is punchy and aggressive, but most of the music is calm and meditative, perfect for these troubled times.” (American Record Guide)

“Rare is the release that credits its soloist as “pianist and chanter,” but Illumination is no ordinary recording. Though Paul Barnes is renowned as a foremost interpreter of Philip Glass's works, he's also collaborated with others, Victoria Bond (b. 1945) among them. Dedicated entirely to material by the American composer, Illumination presents four pieces, one featuring the pianist alone, two concertos with orchestra, and the fourth presenting Barnes, who's also a professional chanter in the Greek Orthodox Church, singing four traditional Byzantine Chants sans accompaniment.…Armed with virtuosic technical ability and refined musicality, Barnes is an ideal match for Bond's music. Little effort is required, however, for him to connect with the pieces, given how much they originated out of his own experiences with chanting. I have but one quibble: I would have preferred to hear the four vocal chants, which he sings with authority and deep feeling, at the start of the album rather than the end. In doing so, it would be easier to hear how those originating pieces act as the foundation for Bond's works, rather than hearing them as postludes. The vocal pieces total a mere four minutes, but they're critical to the character of the project and deserve better than to appear as an afterthought.” (Textura)

“The very well-made music of Victoria Bond (born 1945) is combined not with a single stringed instrument but with an orchestra in two works on a new Albany Records CD – and, more intriguingly, with the human voice, courtesy of pianist Paul Barnes, who is also a professional chanter in the Greek Orthodox Church. The four works on this disc – one for piano alone, two for piano and orchestra, and one consisting of Barnes offering four traditional Byzantine Chants – fascinatingly combine religious elements (including some drawn from Bond’s own Judaism) with secular ones. The four hymns chanted by Barnes take up a total of less than five minutes, but their influence pervades most of this more-than-hour-long release… Bond asks a lot of the performer in these Illuminations, requiring sensitivity to the underlying material and also an impressive amount of virtuoso display that, far from trivializing the underlying hymns, gives them even more expressive power. Barnes’ knowledge of the foundational material surely helps him produce this very sensitive interpretation of the music, as his pianistic skill lets him bring forth the power of Bond’s keyboard writing.” (infodad.com)
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