Monday, November 14, 2011

HurdAudio Rotation: Of Love for Eurydice and Maryam

Andrew Violette: Sonata for Unaccompanied Violin. 2008. Innova: 711.

The focus on this double-disc set of solo violin music is the melodic line. The melodic line and how it develops, is constructed, deconstructed and the multitude of variations on a line. Robert Uchida gets full credit for breathing life into these works as he brings his flawless attention span to the long form of this music and adds his own interpretation on the phrasings and dynamics. This is music that subsists (and makes reference to multiple historical points) within a narrow range of parameters. Andrew Violette does not make use of pizzicato. Nor does he notate rests. Listening to this music for two hours reveals the quality of solo music devoid of silence (contextual or otherwise). It feels like these ideas only come up for air between movements. Once set in motion, this is a long sequence of bowed ideas that touch upon scales, trills and the occasional double stop. It's a beautiful - if not particularly varied - sound.

Eric Brenner: soprano
Liz Filos: alto
Toby Twining: baritone/alto

These ears are no stranger to the music of Toby Twining. A composer who develops highly polished vocals works for his own Toby Twinings Music Ensemble. His use of just intonation and extended vocal techniques are carefully crafted toward realizing incredibly beautiful textures. I've listened to his Chrysalid Requiem for a number of years now and I'd heard some of the Eurydice material performed at this year's Bang on a Can Marathon. And yet I was somehow completely unprepared for the devastating impact of hearing this work in its entirety. This music creates its own sonic world and then convincingly inhabits it. And it is a world entirely unlike any other with its invocation of the underworld of the Eurydice story. Composed for the Sarah Ruhl play Eurydice, this music drapes softly along the narrative of this retelling of the Greek myth. This ensemble of voices and cello features some outstanding writing and a sharp ear for the sounds each member is capable of. All the rich detail within these composition never overwhelms the sound. And it's that sound that pulls the ears into the underworld of Eurydice and Orpheus, telling the story and the feeling of love and loss along the way. This is an outstanding work lovingly realized that cannot be listened to only once. A happy addition to the rotation.

Jim Pepper: tenor saxophone, soprano saxophone
Joe Lovano: tenor saxophone
Bill Frisell: electric guitar
Paul Motian: drums

This one is pleasant listening on all fronts. There's the classic Bill Frisell sound running throughout (even if my ears keep itching to have him front and center). The saxophone solos from Jim Pepper and Joe Lovano are smokin'. The rhythm section is one of the best. And at the heart of this set are these unassuming compositions by Paul Motian. Much of what makes him such a durable, well traveled drummer is present in the music he creates. Understated and composed with generous space for the top line collaborators in his band. The title track, "The Story of Maryam," in particular has a warmth to it that can't be missed. Well worth the remastering that brings this great record back to hear where these players came from.

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