Postcards from the Soul

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8 Mesmerized

"\u2026beautifully recorded CD of well-chosen repertoire."

Postcards from the SoulTasha Smith Godinez, harp; Omar Firestone, cello; Leopoldo Gonzalez, flute; self-released, 2014.

An over-abundance of Piazzolla gives way to a disc of rarely heard American works in a self-produced disc by the very talented Tasha Smith Godinez and friends.

Ah, and what a breath of fresh air! While she makes her living the old fashioned way—teaching, playing gigs, teaching and more playing of gigs—her passion is new music. And this passion is our gain.

I was mesmerized by the first piece, Postales del Alma, for which the CD gets its name, translated in English to Postcards from the Soul. Ironically it is written by another Argentine composer, Andres Martin. Martin, who lives in Mexico now, began a collaboration with Godinez when she discovered his unique ability to make the harp sound rich and luxurious. In her position as president of the San Diego chapter of the American Harp Society, she successfully raised funds to commission this new work and also premiere it. Martin plays bass in the Baja California Orchestra and has a special feel for what happens when you allow the strings to ring and create overtones. In addition, neither musician is afraid to shock us with the rattling of strings as pedals change, a wake-up call of sorts that gives dimension and muscle to an instrument we are only hearing through speakers. It’s magical.

Postcards of passion, sadness, and fury lead to At Dusk in Arthur Foote’s genial miniature. Cellist Omar Firestone plays with a luscious tone matched by the light and rhapsodic flute played by Leopoldo Gonzalez.

Expressive and unafraid to take dynamics all the way, Paul Creston’s Olympia is sumptuously self-indulgent in its cascading arpeggios. Godinez makes it sound as fun to hear as it must be to play. I would imagine a piece like this is why someone would want to play the harp in the first place, to just get all over the strings. She plays with confidence and joy.

Since Vivaldi’s La tempesta di mare and Debussy’s La Mer, composers have attempted to harness the power of the sea in all its vastness, colors, and changing moods. Gardner Read’s Sea-Scapes is capricious and mysterious; we hear bubbles rising from the ocean floor, distant murmurings of creatures from great depths, and the quiet serenity of another universe sharing our world. Godinez lingers and savors each moment. I can’t help but think of the late free diver Natalia Molchanova who spoke of the allure of being underwater. “When we go down, if we don’t think, we understand we are whole.”

Lou Harrison’s Suite for Cello and Harp is simple, repetitive, and meditative with an air of primitive music. It’s a perfect cap to a beautifully recorded CD of well-chosen repertoire.

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About Author

Alison Young is a classical music host and producer at Minnesota Public Radio/American Public Media. She left a successful career as a flutist a decade ago after she developed a neurological disorder, but before then enjoyed many years traveling the world giving recitals, performing concertos, playing with some of the finest orchestras, and recording her own discs. Nowadays, Young spins discs and is always on the lookout for the next best thing. You can contact her at ayoung@mpr.org.

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