Well, I got a rather nice email today from my publisher HoneyRock, of a review of my Marimba Fantasy by one Tom Morgan (whom I don't know) to be published in the April issue of Percussive Notes magazine. It's a good many times better than I would have expected any review for something of mine to be, so I thought I would share it for those interested. Check it:
This difficult and rewarding unaccompanied solo for five-octave marimba is written in a contemporary atonal or neo-tonal style with much rhythmic variation and complexity. The opening section (in 11/16) begins in octaves but is soon off in a playful romp that covers the entire range of the instrument. The texture is often one or two voices, punctuated by four-note chords. Interspersed are counter melodies and passages in contrary motion, with shifting rhythmic patterns and changing meters.
The piece eventually settles into a dance-like mood shifting between 5/8, 6/8 and 4/8, but this is shortlived. A monophonic, more free and legato section follows that soon returns to material similar to the opening. The most difficult part of the piece is probably the slower section, which requires the player to use a "mandolin roll" with the left hand, performing a rolled glissando while the right hand plays a choral as a one-handed roll on top. This moves to a more traditional rolled choral marked "majestic and broad."
The solo concludes with another fast sixteenth-note passage, climaxing with angular melodic patterns and a crescendo to fff. This is a monumental work requiring much musical and technical skill. It is destined to become a standard in the solo marimba literature.
For the record, for those interested in such things, here are a few
things I've been listening to lately, in no particular order:
Respighi – Pines of Rome
Elliott Carter – Piano Concerto
Mahler – Symphony #2
Gorecki – Symphony #3
Messiaen – Et Expecto…
Saariaho – Graal Théâtre
and on the "popular" front:
The White Stripes – Get Behind Me Satan
The Arcade Fire
Kyuss – …And the Circus Leaves Town
I'm new to The White Stripes, a friend lent it to me. I'm intrigued,
and would like to subscribe to their newsletter… er, hear more, that
is. Kyuss is from way back in my proverbial day, and are pretty sweet
for those unfamiliar.
My Mahler recording of choice is Simon Rattle conducting the Birmingham
Symphony Orchestra. Phenomenal recording, I highly recommend it. I
don't have the famed Dawn Upshaw recording of the Gorecki, but rather
the (considerably cheaper and perhaps more authentic) recording on the
Naxos label, the performers of which I don't at the moment remember.
They are, however, a Polish orchestra, conductor, and soloist, which I
think actually does matter when performing the work. Some may
Pines of Rome and the Carter concerto are favs of mine that I come back
to now and then to absorb some more. The Carter is hard to get through
if you're listening closely, as it's so dense, but rewarding
nonetheless. Many of you know that I adore Messiaen. And Saariaho…
you must hear Saariaho. She's amazing if your ears are open to "new
w00t! I've managed to put off any homework a little longer! Now I
finish my post and am (again) without excuse…
Oops… slightly old news!
On Thursday (the 10th) my marimba quartet, Momentia/Minutia, received its world premiere at Western Michigan University's Percussion Ensemble concert. I have no reviews yet, and living 3,000 miles away was unable to actually be there, but here's an announcement of the concert anyway.
This website is pretty tripped out:
It's a new online music service that provides music streams (like radio, but online) instead of downloads. What stands out about this particular site is that it is based on a project called the Music Genome Project (http://www.pandora.com/mgp.shtml), in which trained musicians evaluate music based on multiple technical characteristics to attempt to extract something akin to DNA of musical style.
You go to the site, enter a song or band you like, and it serves up
songs by other bands that have similar characteristics, and that you
will presumably also like. I put in "The Grudge" by Tool, and so far I
got "Ghost of the Navigator" by Iron Maiden, "Somebody, Someone" by
Korn, and right now it's playing "Break You" by Lamb of God. All
rather different bands, but listening from an analytical perspective I
can certainly hear the similarities. I already knew I liked the Tool
song, and back in high school I was the biggest Iron Maiden fan in the
world (although the song they played is from a more recent album that
I've never heard) and I like that song quite a bit. I've always kind
of thought that I would hate Korn because they're in that sort of
rap-rock nu-metal kind of vein, but the song they played was actually
pretty good. Funny, I kind of enjoyed it more before I knew it was
Korn… I'm so shallow. The Lamb of God song is really heavy, and
pleasingly technical rhythmically, structurally, and in instrumental
part writing. I probably would have been super into them in high
school when I was in a really big metal phase. It was a good song, but
I don't know how much I would listen to it now.
Ooh, update… now they've kicked me way back in time to Soundgarden's
"Rusty Cage!" Crazy. Definitely doesn't seem to fit in character as
much with the other songs, but again, listening analytically, I can
hear why it's in there. I see now that you can also tell it whether
you like a particular song that's playing, and it will alter the
profile of what it plays for you. It will also tell you why it's
playing a certain song with the others… really freaking cool. Too
bad I can't afford to actually subscribe!