AMN Reviews: Musicians from soundSCAPE – After the End [New Focus FCR230]

It has to be said right up front: the music on After the End, which presents three new and recent vocal chamber works by the three contemporary composers Jesse Jones (b. 1978), Ricardo Zohn-Muldoon (b. 1962) and Carlos Sanchez-Gutierrez (b. 1964), is of a refined beauty.

All three compositions are performed by small groups drawn from the faculty of the soundSCAPE summer Festival of Contemporary Music, an institution to which the three composers have been connected in various capacities in recent years. Given this history, it isn’t surprising that the performers—soprano Tony Arnold; flutist Lisa Cella; violinist Mark Fewer; percussionist Aiyun Huang; and pianist Thomas Rosenkranz—seem to have an especially good rapport with the work. Their realization of this sometimes rarefied, open-textured music is delicately balanced and austerely sensuous.

Jesse Jones’ After the End (2017), which was commissioned by soundSCAPE, sets a text by Jonathan Brent Butler to music for soprano, percussion and piano. Jones describes the text as pessimistic—it’s after the end of the world, after all—but at the same time holding out the promise of renewal. The vocal line is haunting but not despairing, proceeding at a measured pace intercut with rests. The accompaniment shimmers in slightly discordant, downward cascades of piano and vibes.

Flores de Viento III (1990, revised 2013), is a work in seven parts by Guadalajara-born Ricardo Zohn-Muldoon. The composition is scored for soprano, violin, flute/piccolo, and percussion, and sets a series of poems, most of them by the composer’s sister Laura Zohn-Muldoon, based on the Mesoamerican myth of the feathered serpent Quetzalcóatl. Zohn-Muldoon constructs the music from concise, atonal melodic motifs that he varies and orchestrates as distinct splashes of instrumental color. By breaking the ensemble out into constantly shifting groupings of solo, duo, trio and quartet voices, he exploits the group’s timbral potential to its fullest. And the sheer variety of percussion instruments he employs—vibes, marimba, crotales, gong, congas, maracas and more—contributes significantly to the richness of the piece’s textures.

Mexican native Carlos Sanchez-Gutierrez’s Kikai no Mori/Chance Forest Interludes (2015) was given its premiere at the 2015 soundSCAPE festival. The work is a fusion of two separate pieces, Chance Forest Interludes for solo soprano, and Kikai no Mori for piano and percussion. When presented together, the interludes are inserted in between movements of Kikai no Mori. The interludes are virtuoso pieces that provide a relatively quiet tonic to the fragmented melodies and suspenseful, rhythmic intensity of Kikai no Mori. The percussion part encompasses pitched and unpitched instruments and even the piano itself, through various extended techniques—tone clusters, playing directly on the strings, holding the strings while striking the keys—is turned into something of a multi-voiced percussion ensemble of its own.

Daniel Barbiero

All About Jazz Reviews

Source: All About Jazz.

Rob Mazurek
Desert Encrypts Vol. 1 (Astral Spirits)

Stephan Thelen
Fractal Guitar Remixes and Extra Tracks (MoonJune Records)

Friends & Neighbors
What’s Next (Clean Feed Records)

Rich Halley
Terra Incognita (Pine Eagle Records)

The OGJB Quartet
Bamako (TUM Records)

Angles 9
Beyond Us (Clean Feed Records)

Sylvie Courvoisier And Mark Feldman
Time Gone Out (Intakt Records)

Evan Parker
Crepuscule In Nickelsdorf (Intakt Records)

Rodrigo Pinheiro/Wschod
Wschod (Clean Feed Records)

This Week in New York


Miyama McQueen-Tokita and Thomas Piercy perform new music for clarinet/hichiriki and koto/bass koto.
Friday, August 2 at 7:00 PM
Spectrum, 70 Flushing Avenue, Garage A, Brooklyn, NY

Theo Bleckmann, Timo Andres, Rachel Lee Priday, Andy Meyerson, Alexandra Smither, and Christoper Cerrone perform works by the composer, including The Naomi Songs with Bleckmann and Andres.
Friday, August 2 at 8:00 PM
Areté, 67 West Street, Brooklyn, NY

The International Contemporary Ensemble explores the expressive potential of traditional Persian, Hungarian, American, and Japanese instruments in a program of works influenced by ancient ritual, oceanic wonderment, Irish Bardic poetry, and beyond. This evening culminates in the world premiere of Dai Fujikura’s Shamisen Concerto.
Saturday, August 3 at 9:00 PM
Tickets $30
Merkin Concert Hall, 129 West 67th Street, New York, NY

Gapplegate Reviews

Source: Gapplegate.

Thomas Kozumplik, Child of the Earth, A Symphony for Percussion, Jonathan Haas, New York University Percussion Ensemble

James Romig, Still, Ashlee Mack, Piano

Bruce Levingston, Piano, Citizen

Max Giteck Duykers, Folding Music, Ensemble IPSE

Mika Stoltzman and Richard Stoltzman, Palimpsest, Bach, Ravel, McKinley, Zorn, Piazzolla

New World Records Releases

Source: New World Records.

Stuart Saunders Smith: Palm Sunday
Kyle Adam Blair, Piano
An insatiable listener, learner, and reader, Stuart Saunders Smith (b. 1948) has taken into his mind and spirit myriad styles of musical performance spanning centuries, methods of compositional practice of all sorts, and innumerable close personal relationships with artists of all disciplines.

Robert Erickson: Duo, Fives, Quintet, Trio
Camera Lucida
Charles Curtis, cello; Anthony Burr, clarinets; Jeff Thayer, violin; Che-Yen Chen, viola; Travis Maril, viola; Wilfrido Terrazas, flute; Steph Richards, trumpet; Andrea Overturf, English horn; Julie Smith Phillips, harp; Reiko Uchida, piano
Born in Michigan but for most of his life a true Californian, Robert Erickson (1917 – 1997) had a reputation as a maverick.