Thursday, March 31, 2005
Janice Giteck: Home (revisited).
Women's History Month winds down with an active ear applied to Home (revisited) by Janice Giteck from 1992. This listening experience consists of four compositions that Giteck collectively calls "my music and healing series."
"Om Shanti" (1986) dedicated to People Living with AIDS.
The first movement, I. Individual being connected to nature and to the greater motion of the universe, unfolds slowly as a drone accompanied by plucked piano strings. A soft flute line appears and a soprano voice soon joins in singing in Sanskrit. The static, modal (often pentatonic) harmony give this a meditative quality. II. Earthly human experience of the body, riding the life energy. This brief movement opens with a fast tempo line on the marimba and a pulse-centric texture full ensemble soon follows. III. Relationship between humans, intertwining, a statement of how we need each other, deeply and passionately, and how deeply we suffer at the loss of loved ones. This short movement features material for violin and cello. The melodic line is expressive and well supported harmonically. IV. Sound floats in space, in some way perhaps we draw comfort in acknowledging our own death while we are still alive. This is an attractive, moderate tempo texture with a nice layering of piano, flute, strings, percussion and voice. Melodic lines drift in and out on different instruments as gongs punctuate phrases. The cyclical patterns, pentatonic scale and layering of parts reminds me of traditional Indonesian gamelan music. V. Om Shanti. This final movement pulls this composition together and makes this into an incredible work of music. The drone returns, this time altered from the first movement. It feels slower and more deliberate as only a chime and soprano voice exist outside the soft drone material. The prayer effect of this work feels complete with this concluding texture.
"Tapasya" (1987). Scored for percussion and viola.
This is a musical expression of the heating up of one's senses as one moves toward self-realization in yogic traditions. The slow melodic phrases with plenty of breathing room between coupled with the deliberate colors of mallets, bells and gongs make for a meditative quality. The tempo picks up part way through as the marimba supplies a gentle pulse that propels this material forward and provides nice contrast to the slow opening.
"Leningrad Spring" (1991). A trio for flute, piano and percussion.
I fondly remember seeing this work performed in Telluride, Colorado in 1991. The level of detail, variation and formal development is amazing. This piece is a successful expression of movement between dark and light. This is easily one of the best chamber compositions I've ever heard.
"Home (revisited)" (1989, 1992). Scored for gamelan, sixteen voice male choir, cello and synthesizer.
This concluding work begins quietly with a soft drone colored by spare entrances from the gamelan and voice. The layers of voice and gamelan increase as this work grows organically into a large sound. This work completes the arching prayer-tone of this CD as a whole.