Wednesday, September 19, 2012

CD Review: Brouhaha

New york pianist Yvonne Troxler recently released a CD of her own compositions, titled Brouhaha, featuring her Glass Farm Ensemble. There is a compositional unity on the album that makes each piece feel like an entry in a musical journal. Never really in-your-face, nor too deeply ethereal, the musical gestures that comprise this music have an almost improvisatory feel to them. The timbral variety and tasteful use of space widen sonic expectations, so that you almost don't realize that the new soundscape is in fact an officially different piece.

There are five pieces presented on Brouhaha:

• Penn 1 is inspired by the sounds of a commercial building in Manhattan.

• Shergotty was named after Martian meteorites found in India.. Written for percussion trio, it sounds appropriately lithophonic (though I don't think any actual lithophones were used).

• Brouhaha features a violin and cello accompanied by three glass bowl players. The timbre of the glass bowls brings to mind Partch's cloud chamber bowls.

• Susurrus builds in energy to portray a very dramatic sort of "soft, whispering or rustling sound."

• The orchestration of Kaleidoskop - tenor sax, electric guitar, percussion, and piano - lends it a slight air of Ornette Coleman at his most Webern-y.

Shergotty and Kaleidoskop were my favorite pieces, perhaps for the ingrained qualities of the instrumentation. The following Feldman/Brown exchange describes this well:
...Earle Brown once remonstrated, "But Morty, just because you've chosen the instruments, that doesn't mean the piece is finished," Feldman replied, "For me it is."

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