AMN Reviews: Julia Rovinsky – Dawn (Ent-T)

With the release of first “Dusk” and then “Dark”, it hardly required pyschic powers to predict that harpist Julia Rovinsky´s next solo album would be called “Dawn”. Continuing to follow a sparklingly unconventional star on such an historically-freighted chamber instrument, Rovinsky chooses pieces never intended to be executed on her instrument by John Cage, Ryuichi Sakamoto, Gavin Bryars and skyrocketing, Moscow-born Israeli composer Uri Brener. As with her first two albums, reviewed elsewhere in AMN, Rovinsky treats us to “close-up” versions of these works. “Dusk” may be characterized as a bit romantic and dramatic, casting the listener from comfortable despair to cautious optimism, while “Dark” was a somewhat more staid, meditative affair. Both are outstanding. “Dawn” is a worthy closing chapter to her trilogy.

Many years ago I happened to hear John Cage´s “Dream” played by two Swedish lutanists and found it heavenly, and Rovinsky sits perched on the same cloud with them. As on “Dark”, Sakamoto´s piece “Energy Flow” is the most genteel and escapist moment. Gavin Bryars´ “Sketch for Sub Rosa” was written for two pianos and orginally appeared on a 1987 compilation for the Belgian label of the same name, along with new pieces by Jon Hassell and Harold Budd. Bryars´ original recording has a spectral, abandoned-house feel, while Rovinsky´s, played at the same snail´s pace, is decidedly warmer. The two complement each other. And though far from mirror images, Cage´s “Dream” and Brener´s exquisite “Perelanda´s Tale” serve as matching bookends insofar as Zen calm and concentration are concerned.

As cover art, “Dawn” features a detail from an oil painting by one Alvit S., a perfect choice (and an artist I want to see more of).

Stephen Fruitman