The Welcome Arrival of Rain

Wit, learning, curiosity, irony, ingenuity, amusement -- it?s not often that one gets to hear these qualities in performances of contemporary chamber or orchestral music, but all emanate palpably, dressed in a striking aural loveliness, when the scores of Judith Weir are played. Born in 1954, the Scottish Weir has composed a piano concerto, three operas (A Night at the Chinese Opera, The Vanishing Bridegroom, and Blond Eckbert), and dozens of memorable chamber and vocal pieces informed by her interest in storytelling, folklore, and theater. As critic and composer Robert Hugill has aptly written, Weir "writes beautifully constructed, essentially tonal music, but there is something deeply complex and ungraspable about her pieces. On the surface they are elegant, melodic and approachable; but on first acquaintance her music has elusive depths which can only be teased out." Such is certainly the case with the pieces collected on this disc. The title work, performed by the BBC Symphony Orchestra, lets us listen as brilliantly scored branches sprout from a few simple melodic seeds; it?s a layered and beautiful evocation of nature, an evocation that continues in the compositions for orchestra and voices that follow (Natural History, composed for soprano Dawn Upsahw and sung by Ailish Tynan here, Moon and Star, a setting of a poem by Emily Dickinson, and Forest, for orchestra). Delighting both ear and spirit, The Welcome Arrival of Rain is a welcome arrival indeed.

April 23: " 'A job,' the woman repeated again, smiling, as if I hadn't heard her. 'Would you like one?' "

Kenneth Calhoun (Black Moon) and Lysley Tenorio (Monstress) of the Discover Great New Writers program on B-movies, heritage, and finales.

Books, CDs, DVDs to know about now
In the Light of What We Know

Zia Haider Rahman's mystery of a brilliant Bangladeshi mathematician's past barrels through the Ivy League, London high finance, and spy-haunted Afghanistan in a page-turning tale of exile, intrigue and the price of friendship. A Discover Great New Writers selection.

The People's Platform

Once touted as the foundation for tomorrow's digital democracy, the Internet is increasingly ruled by a few corporate giants, while millions of contributors till its fields for free. Astra Taylor looks at why the web has failed to deliver a communitarian cyberscape, and offers a compelling case for restoring its original vision.

A Private Venus

Dubbed "the Italian Simenon," Giorgio Scerbanenco (1911-1969) began his crime-writing career with books set in the USA, but quickly shifted scene closer to home, the city of Milan.  In this adventure, appearing in English for the first time, his underdog hero Dr. Duca Lamberti finds himself in the middle of a seedy, scantily clad criminal racket, where the presence of an outsider could result in death.