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Centaur Records

Centaur Records releases 21207, composer D. J. Sparr’s entrancing debut featuring New Music Raleigh, Hexnut and flutist Donna Shin
Composer and guitarist D.J. Sparr’s first recording of chamber music, 21207, confirms his place at the forefront of a postclassical revolution, folding influences as wide-ranging as Liszt, Copland, Reich and Van Halen into the shimmering, expansive soundscapes that have become his calling card. The album will be available for download and physical release on June 10, 2014.


Intrepid audiences across the country have been enthralled by the captivating music of American composer D.J. Sparr that “spouts streams of color” (San Jose Mercury News) and embodies “the boundary-erasing spirit of today’s new-music world” (New York Times). Sparr, a true original that can summon the showmanship of Paganini as easily as he can find the virtuosity in ‘80s hair bands, demonstrates his vast stylistic range on 21207, the first album dedicated to his music, due out on June 10, 2014.

Born out of a collaboration with the trailblazing ensemble New Music Raleigh (NMR), led by North Carolina’s contemporary music power couple violinist Karen Strittmatter Galvin and percussionist Shawn Galvin, 21207 blurs the lines between chamber music, art music and straight-up rock’n’roll.

NMR offers three stunning performances on the disc. The first is on Woodland Drive, a flight of imagination that uses Copland-esque intervals dotted with the mischievous tinkling of wind chimes to evoke the pastoral expanses of Sparr’s family homestead in Maryland. The collective also shines on The Glam Seduction, originally commissioned by the BMI Foundation, Inc./ Boudleaux Bryant Fund for eighth blackbird. Here, Sparr’s rock roots dominate, with the “Van Halen meets Paganini” vibe underscoring the virtuosic parallels of violin (or flute or bass clarinet) cadenzas and drum solos. The group’s final contribution is the decidedly ambient Sound Harmonies with Air, where the harmonic progression slows to an eerie standstill amidst a wash of exhaled air.

Violinist Karen Strittmatter Galvin, NMR founder and a familiar face in concert halls and rock clubs around Raleigh, teams up with Sparr (on electric guitar) for the duo version of a frenetic early work, Vim-Hocket, before slowing it way down for a melancholy meditation on Calm. Amsterdam-based power ensemble Hexnut, featuring the unorthodox instrumentation of recorder, flute, trumpet, voice and piano, offers up the same material (Vim-Hocket and Calm) with a completely different color palette.

Finally, the “dazzling” (Washington Post) Donna Shin performs Fantasia for Flute and Electronics: Sugarhouse, a piece written especially for her in which her poetic flute lines dance over ethereal clouds of jingling sounds initially created by Sparr’s funky door harp.

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