Lucid Culture


Vividly Melodic New Classical Works by Danielle Eva Schwob

Multi-instrumentalist/composer Danielle Eva Schwob‘s new album Out of the Tunnel is streaming at Soundcloud. She used to record under the name Delanila and played artsy electroacoustic pop; this is a quantum leap for her imaginative, colorful contemporary classical craft.

The PUBLIQuartet play the album’s centerpiece. The first movement of Out of the Tunnel is simply titled Fast, a brisk, rather suspenseful, bustling theme that brings to mind Jessica Meyer‘s work, along with Kayhan Kalhor in its most energetic moments.

The slower but typically steady second movement is more circular, in a subdued, rainy-day Philip Glass vein, which really comes to the surface in the fleeting third movement. The conclusion has a bold, flamenco-ish rhythm, Schwob weaving a heroic anthem into a stabbing pulse that brings the initial theme full circle, first as a waltz, then a darkly dramatic canon of sorts. This is fun!

Her arrangement of Travelling North for flute and vibraphone is a spare, conversational, enigmatically twinkling wintry theme, played by Simon Boyar and Nathalie Joachim, respectively. Harpist Kristi Shade plays The Long Way Down with graceful, baroque-tinged fluidity: there’s a distant Renaissance folk melancholy to her steady triplets.

Joachim joins Shade and violist Wei-Yang Andy Lin in Breathing Underwater, the trio building a verdant syncopation that coalesces into a dynamically shifting, Debussyesque pastorale. Caroline Shaw also comes to mind.

As you would expect, Reflections on Francis Bacon – a multitracked cello piece played by Brooklyn Rider‘s Michael Nicolas – is darkly acerbic, often austere, anchored by a gritty pedal note in the early going. Schwob pares it down to an allusively chromatic melody that more than hints at Bach. Ultimately, there is no escape for this guy.

Pianist Orion Weiss plays the concluding piece, Reflections on Lucian Freud, somber introspection spiced with coy peek-a-boo motives, then building to jauntily clustering phrases. The eerily modal cascade to a false ending is breathtaking. Let’s hope that Schwob has more material like this up her sleeve.


December 12, 2021 Posted by | avant garde music, classical music, Music, music, concert, review, Reviews | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Exciting New Harp Music from Duo Scorpio

Much as the harp has been celebrated for its angelic sound, it’s also been a staple of horror movies. The rather ominously named Duo Scorpio transcend any preconceptions about harp music, whether heavenly or horrible (they are capable of both and everything in between) on their debut album. Virtuosos Kathryn Andrews and Kristi Shade share a birthday, November 5 (hence the ensemble name), a vivid chemistry and a strong attunement to emotional content throughout an exciting, diverse mix of new and recent compositions that push the limits of what can be done with the instrument. With its ambitious scope, energy and extended technique (percussive effects, rubbed and muted strings and more), it often evokes the similarly pioneering work of Bridget Kibbey.

Bernard Andrès is represented by two tracks here. Le Jardin des Paons, which opens the album, is a lush triptych with Asian allusions, alternately dancing and severe, bringing to mind both Bernard Herrmann and Erik Satie with its moody insistence before ending on a warmer, more verdant note, glissandos paired off against brightly attractive, incisive motifs. The album closes with Parvis, an otherworldly, tango-flavored piece with a long, understatedly Lynchian crescendo over velvety swells.

A triptych commission from Robert Paterson, Scorpion Tales is the centerpiece here. Terse noirisms, creepy syncopation and divergent, Andriessen-esque bell-like tones span the entirety of the harps’ sonic capabilities in the opening segment. In the middle section, an eerie twinkling gives way to a courtly, anthemic waltz lowlit by coyly baroque harmonies. It concludes with The Tale of Orion, a rhythmically playful, Brazilian-tinged narrative bookended by starlit austerity.

Caroline Lizotte’s Raga builds increasingly catchy, hypnotically circling variations out of minimalist atmospherics, while Sebastian Currier‘s Crossfade, the most nebulous piece here, pushes toward and then retreats from clenched-teeth suspense with artfully shifting polyrhythms. The most challenging and jazz-oriented work here, Stephen Taylor’s Unfurl employs what seems to be alternate tunings and gritty low overtones, shifting from menacingly exploratory ripples to a bit of a dance and then back. You might not expect a recording for harp to be as much of a fun ride as this one is.

March 10, 2013 Posted by | avant garde music, classical music, Music, music, concert, review, Reviews | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment