Borges. Goethe. Buber. Akhmatova. There's plenty of literary inspiration behind the compositions on Dreamtigers, but Shatin certainly doesn't allow herself to be limited by her influences. To be sure, there is dramatic depth to these six pieces, but thankfully, Shatin lays the burden of eloquence on the instrumentation, rather than on dense librettos. Vocals are only employed, sparingly, on the three-part "Akhmatova Songs," while elsewhere the Da Capo Chamber Players wrestle marvelously with this challenging material. Shatin's compositional style is difficult, yet enticing, as she avoids much of the clanging atonality that turns many folks off from avant-garde music. Nonetheless, these are far from simplistic pieces; even the lilting "Gazebo Music," which tries its best to be a lighthearted affair, turns into a crashingly contrarian beast. More excellent work from one of America's most underrated composers.
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