The Quality of Mercy

The Quality of Mercy

Patrick Castillo
Abigail Fischer
Jill Heinke
Kristin Lee
Karen Kim
Jessica Meyer
Hiro Matsuo
Lucille Chung
Ian David Rosenbaum
Moran Katz
Patrick Castillo
Catalog Number: 
new classical
solo voice

Brooklyn, NY

Release Date: 
Nov 13, 2015
Liner Notes: 
1 CD
One Sheet: 

New York City-based composer Patrick Castillo’s debut album, The Quality of Mercy, presents two large-scale vocal chamber works featuring mezzo-soprano Abigail Fischer (“a passionate restraint that has no equal in her generation” –The New York Times) and a crack ensemble of some of the country’s finest chamber musicians.

The album begins with This is the hour of lead, a solemn contemplation of death and loss. Bookended by settings of poetry by Dickinson and Yeats, the five-movement work charts the complicated emotional terrain of grief, anger, and acceptance through a pair of dramatic interludes and, at the cycle’s center, a rhapsodic vocalise. Complementing the representational nature of This is the hour of lead, the album’s title work, The Quality of Mercy, offers an abstract meditation on reconciliation. Deriving musical and structural content from plainchant (the Kyrie from the Mass for Pentecost), The Merchant of Venice, birdsongs, urban field recordings, and other sources, the work moreover explores the concept of reconciliation by integrating conflicting methods and materials: live instruments cooperate directly with electronic media, with much of the work’s soundscape constructed organically via live audio processing of acoustic events. Between these two works, the album features Castillo’s Webern-esque Cirque for solo violin, performed by Grammy Award-winning violinist Karen Kim.

The album’s overarching concerns with poetry, color, austerity, and restraint as a means of expression are echoed in the album’s artwork, featuring photography by John Rose.

In addition to Fischer and Kim, The Quality of Mercy features flautist Jill Heinke (Areon Flutes, REDSHIFT), clarinetist Moran Katz (First Prize, Freiburg International Clarinet Competition, Houston Symphony's Ima Hogg Competition), violinist Kristin Lee (Avery Fisher Career Grant, Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center), violist Jessica Meyer (counter)induction, Q2 “Emerging Women Composers”), cellist Hiro Matsuo (Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra), pianist Lucille Chung (First Prize, Stravinsky International Piano Competition; Second Prize, Franz Liszt International Competition, Montreal International Competition), and percussionist Ian David Rosenbaum (Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, Sandbox Percussion, Pittsburgh New Music Ensemble).

Patrick Castillo leads a multifaceted career as a composer, performer, writer, and educator. His music has been presented at festivals and venues throughout the United States and internationally including Spoleto Festival USA, June in Buffalo, the Santa Fe New Music Festival, Interlochen Center for the Arts, Berklee College of Music, Bavarian Academy of Music in Munich, Nuremberg Museum of Contemporary Art, and the Havana Contemporary Music Festival. He is variously active as an explicator of music to a wide range of listeners. He has provided liner and program notes for numerous recording labels and concert series: most prolifically for Music@Menlo, a chamber music festival and institute in Silicon Valley for which he served as Artistic Administrator for more than ten years. Castillo is a frequent guest lecturer at the Milwaukee Symphony, Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, Chamber Music Festival of the Bluegrass (Kentucky), ChamberFest Cleveland, and others. From 2010 to 2013, he served as Senior Director of Artistic Planning for the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra. He is founding composer & managing director of Third Sound.


"[A]n expertly recorded, artistically packaged recording of three major compositions by Patrick Castillo on the enterprising innova Records, [The Quality of Mercy] showcases a composer deserving of wider exposure. ... The compositions featured on this disc are ... on the surface communicative, imaginative, and accessible, yet also a delight for the technical-minded to dissect. ... Patrick Castillo is a composer that has something to say and knows how to communicate his message. Look forward to more from this important voice." [FULL ARTICLE]
Don Clark

"Bookended by settings of poetry by Dickinson and Yeats, the five-movement work charts the complicated emotional terrain of grief, anger, and acceptance through a pair of dramatic interludes and, at the cycle’s center, a rhapsodic vocalise." [FULL ARTICLE]
Janos Gereben

"The composer Patrick Castillo understands the difficulty of exploring grief through art. In his This the hour of lead, a rich, five-movement probing of human loss included on his debut album The Quality of Mercy, he does not attempt to universalize grief. His sorrow is not the same as yours. Instead he constructs a fragile space for sadness, a sanctuary where you can release your pain and come to terms with your emotions. This is the texture of grief, with all its warps and woofs, not an outpouring of anguish. ... Castillo does not assert his experience as a universal. He provides the gorgeous, masterfully crafted canvas; you fill it with your own emotion." [FULL ARTICLE]
Daniel Hautzinger

"Contrasts in composition and sound design are plentiful on this fifty-two-minute collection, and The Quality of Mercy impresses as a bold and auspicious recording, especially when one considers that it's Castillo's debut." [FULL ARTICLE]