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World Music CD Reviews North American

Meridian Arts Ensemble

By Robert Kaye
Published April 27, 2007

Channel Classics CCS SA 23206

Fans of revered Looney Tunes composer Carl Stalling, Frank Zappa, and Leonard Bernstein will naturally gravitate towards this ambitious 22nd century project. MAE’s horn players and percussionist adroitly perform three compositions by different composers: David Sanford’s “Corpus,” Elliott Sharp’s “Beyond the Curve,” and “Slim in Beaten Dreamers,” by Nick Didkovsky. Cavorting twixt avant-garde, classical, modern jazz, Third Stream, show tunes, cartoon scores, world music, rock and controlled cacophony, MAE show off their heavy mettle. Volumes could be written about MAE’s talents—as well as the three composers’–yet this album is likely to appeal to a highly selective audience. “Corpus” shape-shifts tempestuously, one moment sounding like the West Side Story overture, the next like a score accompanying Tweety and Sylvester, then a placid New Agey dirge. Like many other contemporary classical works, this album demands serious, attentive, and open-minded listening. It’s not for background ear candy, nor for the timid.