KEREN SCHWEITZER flute / piccolo and JASON LIPPMANN cello

A compilation of tone poems inspired by the rotation of the earth relative to the constant light from the sun, “Times of Day,” composed by Luis Pine and captured in a fine MSR recording, is imbued by a universal quality of our existence apart from human endeavors and thinking. Pine, in this series of interrelated compositions, speaks musically of the eons old backdrop that continues despite the date on the calendar and will endure even after the sun sets on mankind, only to rise to illuminate a new day of existence on earth. As I have listened several times to this work, it inspired within me a series of profound thoughts about our planet, the sun and our existence, as a testimonial to Pine's aim as a composer to express what is occurring now as well as universal aspects, apart from a specific time and place. Beyond whatever themes Pine's compositions intended or engendered, their sounds as rendered by the Dorian Wind Quintet accompanied by other musicians on wind instruments, cello and piano create a peaceful, restful, contemplative backdrop even as the earth and sun do to create the experience of every day. Overall, the recording is delightful, playful, fecund with many beautiful, fleeting sounds and interludes, a departure from much of contemporary music that is troubled by anxiety, dissonance, angst, hatred, sadness and unfulfilled desires. With “Times of Day,” MSR has responded to one of its goals to bring recognition and appreciation to new composers, including Pine, by providing world premier recordings of this work. We can now hope to hear more from Pine.

—Joel C. Thompson
Music reviewer for MSR Classics

CD Review by Huntley Dent

LUIS PINE Times of Day

These diverse chamber works by Luis Pine, who was born in Portugal as Luis Manuel Henriques Pinheiro in 1957, display an unfailing gift for lyrical tenderness. The opening work, a woodwind quintet titled Times of Day, gives the album its theme and title. Music to fit different hours of the day has a long tradition—one imagines countless serenades sung under the beloved’s window in the moonlight. But few composers embrace the whole circadian cycle as Pine does so charmingly here. There is Suppé’s Morning, Noon, and Night in Vienna and Haydn’s three early symphonies (Nos. 6–8) titled “Le matin,” “Le midi,” and “Le soir.” Strauss’s Alpine Symphony encompasses a day—the first and last episodes are entitled “Nacht”—but the passage of time is secondary to the terrain being covered from base to mountain summit and back down again.

Pine has chosen to depict times of day for their mood and their psychological implications. Significantly, he points to a deeper meaning by quoting Charles Ives at the beginning of the album booklet: “A rare experience of a moment at daybreak, when something in nature seems to reveal all consciousness, cannot be explained at noon. Yet it is part of the day’s reality.” This reference to how our awareness shifts is central to Pine’s four works, and like Ives, he intends to make us aware of a certain mystery captured in a day. For Pine the mystery is symbolized in the word “light,” which has layers of meaning, from physical light to lightness of being and much in between.

A photo in the booklet shows wide shafts of sunlight penetrating a forest glade, and this notion of planes also imbues the music. In the first movement of Times of Day, for example, “chord presentations unfold by way of harmonic overlays,” the composer tells us, creating the effect of various spectrums of light. The ear hears this as shifting planes of sound and color. Pine uses subtle gradations to suggest the intensity and mood of light throughout the day. A historic example would be the luminous background in Debussy’s La mer. In essence this is the unifying thread among all four works. The other three are duos for flute and cello (Dawn, Evening) and clarinet and piano (Solar Midnight).

From his bio one learns that Pine has experience in a wide range of music, including folk, jazz, and contemporary. Here his intention focuses on simplicity and clarity, as the unadorned titles of each work suggests. His musical means are traditional, tonal, and accessible. The twittering as daylight breaks in Times of Day feels as familiar as the birdsong in Beethoven’s “Pastoral” Symphony or Mahler’s First. Similarly, Pine’s melodic gift is used with transparent simplicity. It is especially evocative in long lyrical lines that slowly expand a settled inward mood. The two duos with Keren Schweitzer, flute, and Jason Lippmann, cello, beautifully exemplify this—they inhabit a terrain in which the influence of Debussy and Japan are hinted at.

Another strength of this release is the high level of performance, which is all the more telling because Pine doesn’t pose many technical challenges. Nuance and sensitivity come to the fore. The Dorian Wind Quintet is delicately nimble and refined. (It was the first woodwind quintet to appear at Carnegie Hall.) The other performers on flute, clarinet, cello, and piano are top-flight soloists who give Pine’s music an air of cultivation and beauty of sound.

Its unique theme gives Times of Day a special niche all its own, and the musical values are all they could be. Warmly recommended. Huntley Dent

This article originally appeared in Issue 44:2 (Nov/Dec 2020) of Fanfare Magazine.