Stirring Musical Illustration of Goddesses

Robert Paterson - The Book of Goddesses, featuring MAYA, American Modern Ensemble and Clockwise
Robert Paterson

The Book of Goddesses (American Modern Recordings)

The beautifully packaged book+CD The Book of Goddesses is an ideal gift for the coming holidays as it combines beautiful illustrations, fascinating liner notes and superb neoclassical chamber music inspired by a wide-range of beliefs and global music. The concept album is the work of renowned American classical music composer Robert Paterson.

The Book of Goddesses is divided into three suites. The title track ‘The Book of Goddesses’ was composed for flute, harp & percussion and it is performed by the trio Maya. It is a musical illustration of nine goddesses from around the world chosen by Paterson. He was inspired by deities from India, China, Greece, Ireland, North America, Nigeria, and Cuba that appear in a lavishly illustrated book of the same name by Brooklyn-based author, illustrator, and cellist Kris Waldherr. The book contains descriptions and images of hundreds of female deities from a large variety of cultures and countries.

Throughout the work, I attempt to fuse my own sound world with the music of each culture,” Paterson explains. “I treat myself as someone outside looking in, more as an observer than a master of each musical style. For example, the harp part in ‘Xi Wang Mu’ is inspired by the konghou, an ancient Chinese harp, and the solo bass flute movement, ‘Estanatlehi’ is inspired by the sound of a Native American flute. Percussion instruments provide an earthiness, at least with regard to timbre, and each of the movements uses instruments that are not common in Western music, including an Indian ghatam, a Middle-Eastern dumbek, an Afro-Cuban cajón and the udu drum, an instrument traditionally played by Nigerian women.”

The next composition on the album is ‘Freya’s Tears’ for violin & harp performed by Clockwise. Freya’s Tears is a companion or sister piece for ‘The Book of Goddesses.’ Each of the movements is inspired by a different goddess: Iris, Freya, and Sekhmet.

‘Embracing the Wind’ is the last cut on the album. It was inspired by the image of an Olympic athlete running against the wind, and explores the concept of creating music that “sounds flexible and has a wind-like ebb and flow.” Embracing the Wind was composed for flute, viola, and harp and it is performed by American Modern Ensemble (AME).

The cover artwork and liner notes include exquisite original illustrations and descriptions by Waldherr of each of the nine goddesses (Saraswati, Xi Wang Mu, Aphrodite, Brigit, Estsanatlehi, Xochiquetzal, Oya, Yemayá, and The Muses) featured on the album.

The Book of Goddesses is a winning mix of masterful chamber music, global sounds and fine artwork all in one delightful package.

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