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The Profound Effect of One (2005)
(I. From Nowhere [3:49]; II. Revelation [5:16]; III. The Uncertainty Principle [6:21])
Ralph Morrison (violin); Richard Altenbach (violin); Simon Oswell (viola); Andrew Shulman (cello)/H.E. Pietsch
rec. 2 June 2005, Todd AO Studios, Studio City, CA
Reflets Dans La Sainte Chapelle (2005) [16:55]
Wally Snow (vibraphone); M.B. Gordy (percussion)/Brent McMunn
rec. 2 June 2005, Todd AO Studios, Studio City, CA
The Profound Effect of One (arr. for two pianos, four hands) (2005)
(I. From Nowhere [3:39]; II. Revelation [4:58]; III. The Uncertainty Principle [6:12])
Brent McMunn (piano); Bryan Pezzone (piano)
rec. 20 December 2005, Capitol Studios, Hollywood, CA. DDD
SPM 6 08793 01072 7 [47:08]

The Profound Effect of One is H.E. Pietsch's first orchestral release. It is interesting that it consists primarily of two versions of the title work with only one other piece included: an orchestral rendering of his tone poem Reflets dans la Sainte Chapelle. It is evident that he is banking quite a bit on the one piece.

The title work is a three movement piece that debuted in 2005. It is quite reminiscent of Philip Glass's more recent film work where the minimalism is tempered with neo-romantic melodies. The first and third movements (titled "From Nowhere" and "The Uncertainty Principle") are flush with driving ostinatos contrasting fluid melodies that are passed around the string sections. The second movement, "Revolution", is a bit more introspective and traditional, calling to mind the late-romantic period. Even so there is still a minimalist influence with the opening cellos using a fluid repetition the same way a pop song goes to a keyboard riff. The entire thing feels very contemporary without ever being either alienating or trite. Even with the clear influences, this is an evolutionary rather than a derivative work, and may be one of the most interesting and moving 21st century works that this reviewer has encountered.

The fourth track on the CD is called "Reflets dans la Sainte Chapelle". It was written after a visit to the Parisian chapel referenced in the title. It is similar in style to the "Revolution" movement from "The Profound Effect of One", though more somber and with a slightly extended instrumentation. The use of vibraphone and orchestral percussion adds to the overall ambience. The work feels as if it is ever evolving and flowing. It has a touch of Smetana or Liszt in the orchestration, but again with the American minimalist influences in every thematic recapitulation. When, halfway through the piece, the melody is taken by the vibraphone the listener cannot help but stop for a moment to revel in the simplistic beauty of the moment. This is a work by a composer of great promise well able to hold a listener's attention throughout the major work.

The piano reductions that follow are written for four hands and are interesting in that they showcase the composition in a more stark way. As I listened I was struck by how solid, compositionally speaking, these pieces are. At the same time however they are noticeably less emotive, especially in the second movement. While the piano is well used for the percussive aspects and rapid runs, the soaring melodies are simply better rendered on strings. In essence there is nothing "wrong" per se with the piano reductions, but if these were the only way that these three movements were heard then only "The Uncertainty Principle" would stand out as anything special.

Considered as a whole though, this is one of the most solid recent compilations of music by a young composer. The orchestral portions of this album could not be more highly recommended.
Patrick Gary


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