AMN Reviews: Monica Pearce – Textile Fantasies [Centrediscs CMCCD 30322]

Textile Fantasies, composer Monica Pearce’s debut monograph recording, is aptly titled. Textures of various densities and timbral combinations, rather than more conventional melodies, dominate the sound of much of the music, which is largely scored for percussion instruments of various kinds.

The opening composition, toile de jouy for solo harpsichord, shows Pearce putting the ancient instrument to an unorthodox and decidedly modern use. Its delicate, staccato sound is conventionally associated with contrapuntal music, but here Pearce scores it to generate rough-hewn, opaque blocks of fortissimo dissonances. The piano and percussion duet leather, a heavily rhythmic work, similarly creates an almost unpitched-sounding lower register rumble with the piano, which Pearce sets into contrast with the bright timbres of gongs and other metal percussion. Velvet, for percussion ensemble, takes cascades of notes and repeated motifs on mallet percussion and places them against a background hum of thickening and thinning density. Perhaps the most novel combination of instrumental voices occurs in damask for tamboura, tabla, and toy piano.

Textile Fantasies also includes chain maille for percussion ensemble; houndstooth and silks, both for solo piano; and denim for two percussionists and two toy pianos.

Daniel Barbiero