This exciting collection is the result of a global composition contest sponsored by Blue Spiral Records. The top fourteen selections from composers around the world are presented on this CD. The composition guidelines specified “compositions in the minimal style.” Listeners will tend to hear neo-classical music. The composition guidelines specified piano as the central instrument, so all of the tracks include a piano in the mix. The jurors were from Italy, Canada, France, the USA and Italy.
The sheer range of contributors and their musical visions is impressive. The CD is packaged with a booklet that lists the composers’ bios, the instruments included in the score, and gives a short description of the inspiration for each composition. About half include orchestral instruments with the piano; a few include synthesizer. The piano-only pieces include the lovely “Winter’s Secrets” by Dario Crisman (track 2) and the haunting elegy “Fine” by Dutch composer Jeroen Elfferich for double piano (track 4). Tracks vary in length from 2.5 minutes to 9.5 minutes.
Most of the compositions are land in the neoclassical genre by default. What’s minimal is the amount of thematic and/or textural material. The music is sometimes “minimal” by being quiet, in-busy, and thoughtful. “Phantom Cycle” by Salvatore Casillio begins with a tonal-rhythmic riff cluster and repeats it up and down through different keys. An especially interesting composition is “Bishop of Lights” by Flavio Cuccurullo. The title was inspired by the medieval philosopher and mystic Giordano Bruno. The spurts of atonality leans toward an avante guarde aesthetic.
Piano-focused albums by a single artist run the danger of getting monotonous. With so many different musicians and ideas, this CD unfolds surprises and delights.: “Kebyar!” by American composer Robert Fruehwald (track 11) for chamber winds and percussion is one of those stunning and unexpected compositions. The piece is homage to the gamelan Kebyar music style. It features unusual rhythmic patterns, modal scales, and arpeggios in a Baroque concerto grosso compositonal form. This is followed by “Du-Dream Prelude No. 3” by Sin Young Park, a Korean pianist-composer and one of two women composers on the CD. Her composition features more fiery virtuosity and lightning fast riffs than the other pieces.
This album merits multiple listens and music industry attention as a bellwether of cutting-edge of musical composition. It shows the incipient direction that formal music composition, and the aesthetics and orchestral preferences of modern composers on the front lines. A truly excellent and important contribution to new music, recommended for listeners who enjoy cutting-edge neo-classical genre music.
~review by Elizabeth Hazel
Blue Spiral Records, 2017
14 tracks, 1 hr 17 min
CD with 12-pg booklet
ɛ13.80 + s/h (approx $17.13 + s/h) order from: https://bluespiralrecords.wordpress.com/2018/02/26/cd-the-minimal-piano-series/