Michael Kurek’s PARMA Recordings debut, THE SEA KNOWS, is a charming collection of works written with an emphasis on that which is beautiful and emotive. Composing in a tonal idiom reminiscent of the great melodists of the early 20th century, Kurek creates music that tugs at the heartstrings without ever pandering, that is rich in emotive content without feeling sugary. The works on THE SEA KNOWS plumb the depths of musical sensitivity and will appeal to anyone who listens to music seeking intimacy and an emotionally-grounded experience.
In today’s contemporary musical world, composers are often all too aware that a piece may be premiered and then performed again rarely, if ever. These pieces seem likely to defy that cruel cycle. Thoroughly “road-tested,” and listener-approved, the works making up THE SEA KNOWS have been performed before many audiences and seem likely to be enjoyed by many more to come.
The expansive opening Serenade for Violoncello and Harp is constituted by a single sweeping movement. Melodic materials presented by the cello are built around the expansion of two central themes. These themes, described by the composer as “simple,” are explored and transformed until they become anything but. This melodic transformation, rendered here by Ovidiu Marinescu, exists atop a virtuosic harp tapestry of harmonic filigree admirably played by Rita Costanzi.
Also featuring cellist Ovidiu Marinescu, a PARMA labelmate, the album title track is a tour de force for cello soloist and string orchestra. The work unfolds in sonata form and was written as a programmatic depiction of a poem of the same name written by the composer. In both music and poem, vastness is a central theme, and the emotive lines played by the cello sometimes crash against the waves of the orchestra and sometimes allow the musical tides to pull them along.