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David Chesky: The Zephyrtine

- CD Reviews

David Chesky: The Zephyrtine
2013 Chesky Records, Inc.

Fundação Orquestra Estúdio
Guimarães, Portugal
Rui Massena, Artistic Director/Conductor

Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
July 23, 2014

All tracks composed by David Chesky.

This CD is the score for a ballet story called The Zephyrtine, created and composed by David Chesky. The musical project was commissioned by Guimarães 2012 European Capital of Culture. The Fundação Orquestra Estúdio in Guimarães, Portugal performs on this CD, conducted by Rui Massena, Artistic Director. About half of the tracks are soft, atonal, contemporary, music that would come to life with a filmatic image or live ballet. The other tracks are actually good listening, on their own, as well as passages of the ballet that serve as dramatic momentum. Ben, a boy who lives on a family farm in Vermont, meets a Zephyrtine, who carries him on its back, as it flies to a magical kingdom, called Eudora. French horns introduce the Zephyrtine, while the piccolo represents Ben. There are 25 tracks, with liner notes that match story text to each. Fanciful illustrations, by Ângela Vieira, and graphics by Jeff Wong, make the enclosed booklet like an actual book that could be read to a child, while listening to the music. This story and composition would make a great hardcover book with attached CD or film with imaginary illustrations, similar to those in the notes, Fantasia style..

Notable tracks:

#9 – Dance of the Zephyrtines – On listening to this CD, one is immediately struck by the high quality of the recording, with music coming from various directions, very high tech engineering. As a longtime balletomane, I found the track rhythmic, percussive, and suited for just such an ensemble dance. A few phrases were evocative of Shostakovich.

#13 – Daissa the Green Queen – This was my favorite track, with Daissa the Green Queen entering, with some jazzy dance imagery, very exotic. I heard vibes, strings, some bells, and it seemed a clarinet. This track sealed the entire CD for me as worth the listening, while other pleasant surprises followed in further exploration.

#15 – Ib the Monster Comes Down from the Mountains – This track was evocative of Mussorgsky, with timpani and horns pulsating throughout, in foreboding fervor. The rhythms are definitive, good for a lead performer and ensemble. The propulsive theme is offset with tiny chime effects.

#25 – The Grand Celebration – For the story’s finale, in a grand celebration, this track is introduced with heralding drums, frantic strings, and dervish, swirling momentum. It involves dancing around an ice cream tree, what a vibrant image, with lots of Copland styled fanfares. The balletic or film image possibilities for Mr. Chesky’s project are limitless.

For more information, contact Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower at