Scintillating percussion music - traditional and contemporary - for the gamelan orchestra of Java.
The large hanging gongs and other metallophones of the gamelan orchestra produce some of the most sophisticated percussion music in the world.
Ranging from the dreamy and contemplative to the loud and boisterous, the music on "Sumarah" illustrates the gamelan's versatility and subtlety.
Gamelan is one of the world's great musical traditions - a fact indicated by NASA's decision to include a recording of gamelan music on the gold "calling card" sent with the Voyager spacecraft to worlds beyond our solar system.
The same piece of traditional court music that NASA chose, "Puspawarna," was chosen by The Schubert Club Gamelan Ensemble as the opening track on this disc.
The suite "Parisuka" illustrates a relatively recent trend in gamelan music called "penataan," which is medley of pieces of contrasting mood.
Unlike the rest of the music on the disc, "Swara Suling" is by a known composer, Bapak Nardo Sabdo.
Here it is given a lively, Balinese-flavored treatment, and ends with a trombone obbligato.
"Tropongbang" and "Kutut Manggung" are more traditional music, and illustrate some of the marvelous transformations that gamelan music can undergo as the players cycle repeatedly through a piece.
The title track "Sumarah" brings the disc to a rousing close.
Its name is one of those hard-to-translate terms - it seems to mean something like, "we've done our best with this offering; how it is received is out of our hands."
Not a bad title for a CD by a group of foreigners who had the temerity to record traditional gamelan repertoire!
About the artists:
The Schubert Club Gamelan Ensemble is one of the few gamelan groups outside Indonesia that records traditional repertoire.
The Ensemble was founded in 1996 by its director, Joko Sutrisno, to perform on The Schubert Club Musical Instrument Museum's newly acquired bronze gamelan.
After revealing its nature by being played for a time, the gamelan was ceremonially named Kyai Medharing Madu (The Venerable Blossoming of Honey).
The name refers not only to the sweetness of the instruments' tone, but also to its spreading influence in the American Midwest.
Throughout the year the group performs in educational outreach programs in universities and schools, as well as on the concert stage, and in theatrical productions.
Besides its passion for the traditional music of Central Java, The Schubert Club Gamelan Ensemble also has great enthusiasm for new music.
Gamelan director Joko Sutrisno, a native of Surakarta, Java, is an active composer and arranger, as well as a teacher extraordinaire.
The two dozen American members the ensemble come from diverse walks of life, and are brought together by a shared love for one of the world's great musical traditions - gamelan.