The quiet rumbling of trombones and the soft keening of strings haunt the piano’s slow stream of notes. A mosaic, a tapestry. Rich harmonies and simple triads come and go, like the ever-changing, yet ever-similar, landscapes one passes while driving through a remote area, perhaps a Southern California desert, perhaps a deep woods. Although not in any sense a programmatic music, the events in The City the Wind Swept Away coast in and out of earshot in much this way, or like drifting clouds, slowly changing shapes, shifting angles, picking up different light.
The City the Wind Swept Away, commissioned by the late trombonist Will Sudmeirer’s Le Quatuor Tromboni de Marin (which annually gathered in the San Francisco Bay Area for a concert augmented by strings), was written at the Dorland Mountain Colony in 1982 (and slightly revised at the time of this recording, 2003/04). On this recording, it is performed by a group of noted Los Angeles new-music and studio players.