Sarah E. Stanton - A Glimpse of Heaven. Largo; Terri's Song; Unity' Jubilant Dance; Field of Melodies; Harmony of Peace; Intrigue; Such is Life; A Child's Heart; Composition Ten; August Song; Modus Vivendi; Coming Home; My Delight; A Glimpse of Heaven. Amabile String Quartet (Armen Movsessian, violin; Alexey Shabalin, violin; James F. Hanna, viola; Alexander Zhiroff, cello), with Arman Mourzagaliev, violin; Mary Costanza, cello; and Bill Cantos, piano. MSR Classics MS 1106 (59'07).
These engaging works for string quartet come from an improbable source. Sarah E. Stanton works in cancer research at Scripps Institute in La Jolla. She is also a trained cellist with a gifted ear for the sonorities of the quartet format. The pieces on this disk are relatively short, the longest runs a little over five minutes. They are structured something like the movements of a baroque suite, with strong tonic centers and a tendency towards counterpoint. However, in their serene mood, their rhythmic freedom, and their harmonic inventiveness, they could only have been written in the present day.
There is a marked spiritual component, if such a thing can be said of abstract music, which provides unity to the pieces. They evoke moods from playful to intense, but the sequence is never jarring and they seem to flow into one another without losing a sense of individuality. It's quite an accomplishment. While I doubt that the Arditti Quartet will ever take up these works, in their own way these are daring compositions that speak to the heart without mawkishness.