“Sarumba,” MSR’s third album of Peter Lieuwen’s music, is nothing less than seductive and transfixing from its first note to its last. Once you engage in its beauty as a listener, you are likely fated to listen to it again and perhaps many times as I have. The sonic interplay of instruments changes and evolves constantly through each of the four pieces on the album, drawing the listener into its panoply of sonic wonder, not a boring note to be had.

As a sound experience, it tops the pile of recent albums to which I have been listening for the past year. If you might attempt to play this album as background music while doing something else, you will find yourself lost in the music until the hands on your watch or clock will have registered another hour past. Whatever else you might have wanted to do then will have evaporated into the clouds.

Piano, violins, wind instruments and a range of percussion contribute to the sonic awe Lieuwen was inspired to create from jazz, world music and natural phenomenon. One of the times I was listening to the album while driving, I missed two highway exists, without realizing where I was, enthralled by the music, absorbed in the moment, flowing along in the traffic, not really caring about anything else.

“Sarumba” begins with an engaging piece composed for two violins and chamber orchestra for which the album was named. It is followed by “Chamber Symphony,” with three movements, entitled “Nature,” “Love” and “Cosmos,” inspired by an ancient Gregorian Orthodox hymn “Thou Art a Vineyard” in tribute to Mary, the Mother of God.

Next, you will hear “The Quad Concerto” and finally the “Concerto Alfresco.” Suddenly, the music ends, and you may say to yourself, as I have several times, “I can’t believe it has ended.” The only solution is to allow it to play again right away or another time. Lieuwen has indeed created uncommon, exhilarating music, as revealed In “Sarumba,” which might invite you to hear his first album on MSR, “Overland Dream,” and his second simply entitled “Concertos” before you may, as I do, want to hear more, perhaps live in concert.

Joel C. Thompson

Joel C. ThompsonCherry Grove review