“[Mark Abel’s] music is tonal, although at times it stretches tonal boundaries, and he has a genuine melodic gift that serves him well. … [The Book of Esther]… is scored for soprano (Esther) and mezzo-soprano (Vashti, the queen banished by Persian king Ahasuerus), clarinet, violin, and piano. … Soprano Hila Plitmann, a specialist in Abel’s music, throws herself into the part of Esther, and the other performers are fully engaged…
Trois Femmes du Cinema is a charming tribute to the French actress Anne Wiazemsky, the Mexican actress Pina Pellicer, and the Ukrainian film director and actress Larisa Shepitko. Abel writes of his great love for the films of the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s, and his celebration of all three ladies is beautifully sung by Isabel Bayrakdarian.
Reconciliation Day… is scored for viola and piano, and the dark-hued tone of the viola is perfect for the unsettled nature of the music. I found this score particularly lovely.
Out the Other Side was composed for Trio Barclay, in residence at the Barclay Theater at the University of California, Irvine. This is the most extroverted music on the program, filled with rhythmic vitality and energy. It shares those qualities with The Long March, composed for a trio of flute, horn, and piano. Another quality that can be heard in much of Abel’s music is humor, and it is puckishly present in The Long March.
1966 was composed for mezzo Kindra Scharich and pianist Jeffrey LaDeur, who perform it here. This is music of nostalgia and recollection. … The music is evocative, with a wistful beauty underlying much of it. The performance is all a composer could ask for.
Abel’s notes are very helpful, and the booklet provides complete texts, for which Delos deserves praise. The recorded sound is well balanced and natural. … Warmly recommended.—Henry Fogel, Fanfare