This music lingers in the air like an ocean sunset, with soft clouds of women's voices, the deep, purplish swell of the bass clarinet, and the hazy shine of the violins. Nothing much happens during the 42-minute duration of David Lang's The Passing Measures,
not even the hint of a mood swing. But while this work may be an example of ambient minimalism -- akin to Brian Eno's Music for Airports
-- it is simply no good for background listening: Its strange and beautiful stasis pulls at one's attention like a magnet. Recorded live in 1998 before a virtually silent audience, the hypnotic power of this performance is a demonstration of the prowess of the Birmingham Symphony Orchestra and Contemporary Music Group (honed to world-class status by Simon Rattle
), here led by Paul Herbert. Bass clarinetist Marty Ehrlich's lung power is quite deserving of special mention. The Passing Measures
is an Experience.