Review: Window Panes

by Peter Krause, November 28, 2020

Her unbounded expressive urge and the infinitely rich palette of her orchestral color make her symphonies captivating as well as approachable. As Elizabeth R. Austin saunters on the humus of tradition, she scatters sly musical quotations and allusions from her compositional forefathers into her music. She has uncovered her quite personal style, which is irrespective of the mannerisms of the ‘New World’ (with its minimalistic simplicities) as well as those of the European avant-garde (with its brutal brutalities) and celebrates her essential middle way. Speaking fluent German, this American, whose early style was encouraged as Nadia Boulanger’s student, sits between two chairs. She clearly feels comfortable here, balancing her free tonality as if sleepwalking on the narrow balance beam between familiarity and the allure of strangeness. One listens spellbound, eavesdropping on her programmatic inspiration. As highly charged with expression and brilliantly characterized instrumentation her orchestral works are, she circumscribes her Rilke-Lieder with the most delicate brush of ‘pure-sound’ poetry, as the voices of the singers become downright pointillistic.

Window Panes: Works of Elizabeth R. Austin

Ulrich Urban, Melinda Liebermann The Moravian Philharmonic Orchestra, Joel Eric Suben Navona
Available through Parma Recordings, Amazon, composer’s website:
Also available on Spotify (WITHOUT Program Notes)

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