Well-established horn/tuba duo Celeste and Jim Shearer of New Mexico present a tremendously enjoyable album of North American chamber music. Taking inspiration from American and Mexican folklore and folk song, various historical events, visual art works, and various North American dances, the music of composers Justin Raines, James Grant, Lon W. Chaffin and Lester Pack, complement one-another quite nicely, bringing a stylistic and conceptual coherence which unifies this album as more than a gathering of disparate works.
Standout pieces include the title track by Justin Raines and “Faraway Nearby” by Lon W. Chaffin, which is based on three paintings by Georgia O’Keeffe. However, all pieces on this album are quite melodic, draw on intense musical and technical collaboration among the performers, and are in their own way evocative of the North American landscapes, folk tales or various national, regional or ethnographic personalities. The programming of this album is truly sublime and cohesive.
The Shearers and their collaborating pianists perform with great passion, quality and intense interest in the musical whole, rather than focusing narrowly on their own individual tasks. This is supremely expressive collaborative playing by true virtuosos. Recorded in a recital hall, the only complaint this reviewer has is the ambience of the venue blurs clarity in the tuba lines in the most densely orchestrated florid passages. However, the timbres, dynamics and musical intensity and sense of “team playing,” along with the outstanding programming, all contribute to one of the most enjoyable brass-oriented chamber recordings in recent memory.
– ITEA (International Tuba Euphonium Association) Journal