“I am happy to recommend this release to anyone seeking shelter from the hectic world in which we live”
Henry Fogel, Fanfare
Henry Fogel, Fanfare
The Cloud of Unknowing is the debut release from composer Steve Zink and features a great collection of chamber works including the “String Quartet” and “String Quintet”. The program begins with “On the Boundary”, a work of haunting beauty for cello & piano with rich expressive cantabile lines, while “Cipher”, for string quintet, is evocative and beautiful with touches of modalism within a modern context; “Afterglow” for piano & cello is imbued with a melodic and expressive richness, while “The Cloud of Unknowing”, for string quintet, is dramatic, hypnotic and engaging, a wonderful contrast with “Remembered Things” for piano & cello whose wide expressive range exudes an overall character of joy & hope; “String Quartet” is a four-movement work whose “Movement I” is energetic, expressive and powerful, while “Movement II” is richly textured and beautifully conversational between instruments; “Movement III” is a work of tender gentleness and hypnotic beauty, while “Movement IV” is an energetic and rhythmic conclusion to the work; the three-movement “String Quintet” begins with a vibrantly dramatic “Movement I”, followed by a “Movement II” that is characterized by a melancholic yet lyrical beauty, and with the final “Movement III” being a joyous and exuberant conclusion to the work. The music is deeply expressive and passionate, with a clear tonal basis and a melodic and thematic richness; each work has a great sense of form and structure and the multi-movement works hold together beautifully with a wonderful sense of forward direction. The Cloud of Unknowing is a great album of contemporary chamber music imbued with expressive power and an original compositional voice.
The Cloud of unknowing
Explorations in chamber music
According to Gabriel Marcel, music is, “the unshakeable testimony of a deeper reality”. The earthbound nature of our times has become uncongenial toward talk of the transcendent. The humdrum materialism, so much in vogue, declares the milieu of the mystic inapt as a matter of course. Nevertheless the supra-mundane proclivities of the human heart remain the same in the age of space exploration as when ancient philosopher-priests mused in the shadows of pyramids. In fact, there is now an unparalleled thirsting for the very transcendent reality our prosaic philosophy disallows. If there is to be a renaissance of the mysterium tremendum, it will come, not by a-priori philosophic and linguistic adoption, but by direct encounter. It is here that music stands as the open door of transfiguration.
In an article written in 1880, Richard Wagner declared it was the destiny of art to prevail in the sphere previously occupied by ecclesiastics. It was music in particular that he associated the power of hierophany. The passage of so many years has only rendered this thought more oracular, making it less a reflection of Wagner’s own times than an urgent prophecy of our own. It is music that holds the sacerdotal prerogative to directly expose our hearts to the numinous. My goal in these explorations in chamber music is to facilitate encounter with that depth-dimension that operates, to borrow a phrase from Nietzsche, beyond good and evil. The aim here is not symbolization but incantation.