Review by RJ Lannan. Reposted by permission. Original Source
Moon Light like you’ve never heard it.
I thought I would get simple songs. Native American flute is a quiet, personal instrument. What I did not expect from MarciaWatson Bendo’s new release Woodland Moons is a Magnifcat of mellifluous music. This album features a surprising balance among muted orchestral instruments and Marcia’s humblewooden flute and her vibrant piano. And the title. Woodland Moons. We know the blue moon and the harvest moon and of course we have the super moon. From Marcia’s music we learn ofthe moons of the Woodland people. Every one of her track titles is a name for a full moon. Let’s explore and learn.
Fallen Leaves Moon has a classical, Baroque structure as do many of the tracks, but the contemporary feel is lurking in the background. The tune gives me the sense of being in a forestcathedral in which Marcia’s flute is a pipe organ. The sound reaches for the heavens, but the tunereaches for the heart. Both succeed. The vivid leaves cascade from towering trees to form a carpet on the forest floor. As in the melody, there is movement and color.
The moon is high and the berries are ripe for picking. According to Algonquin traditions the arrival of the Strawberry Moon in June is the time for celebrating Earth’s first bounty. Marcia’spiano and flute tune with multiple harmonies is quietly beautiful. The tune is a little sad, but in a charming way.
Midsummer Moon has pronounced classical roots and echoing flute throughout. The feel is modern day symphonic, yet the subject is as old as man’s awareness of the seasons. The balanceof orchestra and flute is delicate, but divine. The song has a little piano interlude that is clear, refined, and wholly unexpected. The tune itself is like finding a symphony orchestra in the middle of some vast forest playing for the wildlife that lives within. It reminded me of Debussy’sSyrinx for its ethereal qualities.
In February, when the snow covers the earth like a clean, silvery blanket we have the Snow Moon. Marcia’s tune is clear and crystalline. It is the miraculous music that forms as a delicate crust on all things overnight. The next day the sun rises in a rich, blue sky and the day is one of sparkling jewels. That and more is in Marcia’s delicately introspective song.
Crane Moon, or the Choctaw’s Hask Watallak, is a March moon. It is a spring moon, a warmingmoon. You can hear the crane’s lonely call in the opening notes of Bendo’s song Crane Moon. And like the spring, the melody goes from cold, cloudless skies, to warmer days. It is easy to forget that this is not classical music, maybe something featuring Jean-Pierre Rampal perhaps. I think it is the phrasing, the juxtaposition of theme and orchestration. Once again, I stand in the cathedral of the earth, an aural witness to nascent beauty.
The Winnebago call the November moon Little Bear Moon. Bendo’s tune is light andwhimsical, a caprice that sounds like a calliope. Perhaps this bear is a dancing bear, but you cannot deny the lightheartedness in the tune.
The impressions of classical music came at an early age for multi-instrumentalist Marcia Watson Bendo. The vibrations of strings and the air movement of woodwinds caught her attention and she decided that music would be an important part of her life. That and maybe being a scientist. At age seven it was 88 keys, and through the years, violin, the clarinet, and the Native American flute. Recently she learned to play the harp. It is that never ending curiosity and desire to learn that has inspired her continued pursuit of a long career in the music industry.
Woodland Moons, with its classical roots and natural, earthy elements is one of the finest flute albums I have heard of late. Sergei Prokofiev would have been proud to know Marcia Watson Bendo. Her music, contemporary and ethnic, would be easily transformed into sonatas for any age. Highly recommended.