Call it a percussionist's answer to Flight of the Bumblebee — with a twist. "Filigree," by composer Robert Honstein, is a rapid-fire workout for solo vibraphone. The instrument's bars, however, are partly covered in tinfoil, which adds a unique layer of color to the music.
Composers have often turned to folk music when they need a strong melody or just a shot of inspiration. The sounds of traditional Persian music — something rarely heard in a Western classical setting — help make "In Memory of a Lost Beloved" feel fresh and evocative. It's from a suite of Persian-inspired pieces by composer Reza Vali on Home, the debut album from 25-year-old cellist Kian Soltani.
At first, there's just a drip: a gentle pulse from a marimba. Then a bewitching melody played on a set of tuned cowbells enters and the music comes into focus. The four musicians in the Chicago-based Third Coast Percussion let the piece unfold deliberately. They play as if they're a single, eight-armed organism.
Richard Reed Parry plays to arenas full of fans as a member of the Grammy-winning band Arcade Fire, but he impressed listeners in 2014 with a more intimate record. Parry's Music For Heart And Breath featured compositions that asked some of the best musicians in contemporary classical music to use their own heartbeats and breathing to guide their performances.