Under a Blue Grey Sky
Olivia De Prato - violin
Jessica Pavone - viola
Christpher Hoffman - cello
Tom Blancaforte - bass
Jeremiah Cymerman - composition, electronics
Porter Records 2010
With a couple concerts of Jeremiah Cymerman coming this week I decided to gave this one a few closer listenings, never mind it doesn't exactly fit the blog's profile (meaning it's most definitely not jazz). And I can definitely say that this is a very rewarding record, even if it takes some time getting into it. With string quartet and electronic treatments (subtle ones) this one takes You into a sonic world that is rich and deep, both classical and forward-thinking.
Act I starts with some shimmering bells, atmospheric noises, and then turns into string quartet theme wchich moves between peacefull and dramatic. Act II brings You some sharp and dissonant shrilling tones, executed with virtuosity by the string players, underlined by low-frequency drones, glitch noises, inhuman, robotic sounds. There's a lot of tension, a lot of drama, gripping suspense in the music brought to You by Jeremiah Cymerman. With abstract passages adding the eerie, thrilling atmosphere while the solemn melodies are moving slowly, mournfull, elegiac, sorrowfull, majestic. Returning often to the same tonal centres they evolve in a form of a suite, connecting all the different parts together. Like the folkish tune of the Act III followed by extreme sonic eplorations in the Act IV (strings being treated not very gently).
I'm not a fan of electronics but those added here are (fortunately) never overbearing, very subtle. Like the echoing feedback of the violin line in the last part of Act II, or minimalistic approach of static low noises in electronics-only "Interlude" (between the Act V and Act VI).
This is somekind a pensive music theatre, with the story slowly evolving, pacing forward patiently enough to leave necessary space and time for all the details. To describe it by comparison I can think of the dramatic edge in the "Requiem for a Dream" soundtrack by Clint Mansell and Kronos Quartet, or some blood-freezing lines in Wojciech Kilar's score for the "Dracula". Which I guess shows quite clearly that I lack any profound classical music education and, no matter how unpopular my musical views are, I'm still a child of pupculture - not really qualified enough to review this.
Anyway, while not a chamber music fan, I found a lot of to treasure in here and if You are looking for something else (than jazz) this one is a captivating listening experience, that grows on You slowly, somehow uneasily, revealing more and more details each time. And its beauty seems cold and distant, yet dangerously seductive*.
* a couple of pieces from the album are available in the playlist aired originally on 24.01.2011 and re-aired on 23.01.2012
*Although I think the story with vampires, castles, lakes, dark forests would be most appropriate, a good noir would fit quite well too