FLEETING REALMS is an inviting compilation of chamber music featuring six composers. Though the album obviously mixes different compositional voices, the different pieces share many characteristics. FLEETING REALMS is defined by a pervasive uplifting quality. Many of the album’s works feature driving rhythms and a joyfully relaxed sensibility. Even dissonance is used playfully or as a counter weight to beautiful lyricism. Such consistency in manner across six pieces by six diverse composers is obviously remarkable, and it makes FLEETING REALMS a very special musical collection.
The album’s tone is set by three works: Bruce Babcock’s Irrational Exuberance, Joyce Tang’s Snowy Landscapes, and Nora Morrow’s Luca’s Dream. Each is powerful, yet gentle, and exudes a kind of musical warmth that draws the listener into the rest of the album. Irrational Exuberance, for alto saxophone, cello, and piano, is thematic and rhythmically active, and features conversational imitation between its three instruments. Although interior sections of Irrational Exuberance are more subdued, Babcock’s work is markedly hopeful and confident.