Tower of the Eight Winds

Tower of the Eight Winds

Ingenious and unusual music...with universal emotional appeal
Judith Shatin
Borup-Ernst Duo
Catalog Number: 
new classical
Grammy nominated

Charlottesville, VA

Release Date: 
Jun 29, 2010
Liner Notes: 
1 CD
One Sheet: 

Judith Shatin’s music, called “fresh and bold” (The Denver Post), combines beautifully crafted sounds and forms. This disk, featuring her violin and piano music, is named for the eponymous Tower of the Eight Winds (2008, vln/pno), singled out for its “engaging vivacity” (The Washington Post).

The CD features vibrant performances by the Borup-Ernst Duo. Praised by The Strad for their “watertight ensemble” and “interpretive warmth,” the duo traces the development of Shatin’s unique voice, beginning with Widdershins, (1981) for solo piano. Commissioned by Music-at-LaGesse Foundation, it displays the composer’s trademark rhythmic dynamism in a pianistic tour de force. "Richly textured" (The Washington Post), it plays with motivic ideas that reflect the “counterclockwise” meaning of the title.

Her Icarus (1983, vln/pno), is a vivid tone poem, whose four movements reflect the dramatic arc of the story. Penelope’s Song (2003, 05), for amplified violin and electronics, shows the transformative power of Shatin’s timbral magic. Its entire electronic palette was created from the intricate rhythmic world of wooden looms. The disk's final piece, Fledermaus Fantasy (1995, vln/pno) is a virtuosic romp with witty chiaroscuro effects, built on four melodies from Johann Strauss’s delightful operetta.

Performed by Hasse Borup, violin, and Mary Kathleen Ernst, piano.


Judith Shatin is a painter of musical scenes; in fact, at times, she manages to rearrange our various brain functions to operate senses normally controlled by other lobes—for example, we truly see visual images associated with her notes. She doesn’t write programmatic music per se; it’s more subtle and complex than that, something magical that Hasse Borup and Mary Kathleen Ernst of the Borup-Ernst Duo are especially suited to demonstrate here in Tower of the Eight Winds … [Shatin] is able to produce ingenious and unusual music while, at the same time, retaining a certain accessibility and common musical lingo with universal emotional appeal.

- David Wolman, Fanfare

"[In Penelope's Song,] Shatin places the violin against an electronic part derived from recordings of a real weaver working at her looms. At the start, the electronic part is highly rhythmic and jaunty … accompanying a lively and purposeful violin part. In the middle section, the repetitive clatter of the looms is replaced by long-held, echoey timbres that set off rhapsodic writing for the violin. The idea of night following day is unmistakeable, and the transition back to day for the close of the work is very imaginatively done. Icarus … is a strong work. [T]he music is not a banal representation, but something altogether more complex and interesting. Tower of the Eight Winds … encapsulates Shatin’s ability to create well-defined, imaginative structures and to develop her ideas with clarity and vigor. Widdershins is a short sonata in three movements for piano solo. [T]he work offers a commodity often absent in recent music: energy. Both the first movement, titled “Energetic,” and the last, “Savage,” have a welcome dynamism and terseness. Even the middle movement, “Tranquil,” is no slouch. The players attack all five works with gusto and would appear to have completely mastered them. The performances are excellent and recording is exemplary. Recommended.

- Jeremy Marchant, Fanfare

"[Shatin's] music is well written, cohesive and substantive. It can frequently be intense, but it's always interesting and quite expressive. The five works on this album give a fabulous overview of Shatin's creativity. While all are scored for violin and piano, they are nevertheless wonderfully diverse and individual. Borup and Ernst give stunning performances that capture all the subtleties in each piece. Their interpretations are very perceptive and intuitive, and their playing is fluid and bring out the intricate interplay between the two instruments."

- Edward Reichel, Deseret News

2010 Grammy Nomination for its engineer, Blanton Alspaugh