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ClassicsOnline Home » HARTKE, S.: Meanwhile / ETEZADY, R.: Damaged Goods / MAZZOLI, M.: Still Life With Avalanche (eighth blackbird)
Another amazing collection from one of new music’s finest ensembles
Chicago based eighth blackbird is by all accounts one of contemporary music’s finest and most respected ensembles. Each member of this superb sextet is a new music specialist of sorts. These musicians have made modern American music their calling card and to continued great success. Further, each of their albums has a theme or concept to it; this one being no exception.
As the well done booklet notes explain, the collection imagines eighth blackbird “wander(ing) through an unfamiliar house. With each new track a new door is opened releasing unexpected sounds and dramas”. The album title, “Meanwhile” also bears a sort of untold mystery given in a tantalizing introduction to the program notes. The story or theme is clearly up to the listener but the music itself is fascinating and holds many wonderful discoveries.
For example, Still Life with Avalanche by Missy Mazzoli is a rhythmic, propulsive but somewhat ominous excursion filled with jazz and minimalist inspired licks and ending quite eerily, with an element of the unresolved. Mazzoli was a new name for me but a terrific discovery. This young New York composer is a find and I am anxious to hear more of her music. The mysterious end of the “Avalanche” gives way to a jolt in Frenchman Philippe Hurtel’s... a measure, the title coming from a French expression for “little by little.” This is a frantic, sudden and unpredictable work that slows down gradually, only to become very steady and then... unpredictable. This music is amazing in its highly structured faux chaos and sounds like it would be quite difficult to perform!
There are movements, at strategic program points, of Roshane Etezady’s Damaged Goods. Etezady claims an early influence by the music of Philip Glass and is presently a Chicago native working with eighth blackbird as well as other groups. Two movements of Damaged Goods are shared here: About Time and Eleventh Hour. The work has a hidden drama to it that implies something about the title. Etezady explains that the music and the title will hold different meaning for different people but it is compelling. There is a melancholy to each movement that is most attractive. I would like to hear the whole.
Stephen Hartke’s Meanwhile: Incidental music to imaginary puppet plays is – in many ways – just what is says. Hartke has been influenced by Javanese shadow puppets and their relatives in Japanese Bunraku for a while and this fascination has shown up in other works. This is a very picturesque six movement work that relies on prepared piano, retuned strings and some very creative use of percussion. The sounds of what might be a live puppet show are clear and the music suggests actions, mysteries and dramas in the mind’s eye.more....
By Joshua Kosman
San Francisco Chronicle
By Timothy Mangan
The Orange County Register
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HARTKE, S.: Meanwhile / ETEZADY, R.: Damaged Goods...