"Lacking companion pieces to play alongside Ned Rorem's solo cello piece "After Reading Shakespeare"(1980), the adventurous cellist Matt Haimovitz commissioned substantial new solo works by Paul Moravec and Lewis Spratlin. Haimovitz's compelling new CD documents all three, opening with Rorem's set of nine dramatic miniatures, which suggest songs without words, tersely lyrical and muscular. Each movement takes its inspiration from a Shakespeare couplet (or stage direction).
The eight movements of Moravec's "Mark Twain Sez" (2006) are each tied to a Twain witticism that Haimovitz reads before leaping into the music. Like Rorem, Moravec favors unabashedly melodic writing, given an extra dash of expression by the cellist's virtuoso control and subtle phrasing. Spratlin's "Shadow" (2006) is the most abstract and aggressive music here, exploring the metaphor of the title with extreme dynamics and gestures that evoke music receding into darkness or bursting with light."
By Mark Stryker, Detroit Free Press music critic