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Christopher CERRONE (b. 1984)
The Arching Path [15:05]
Double Happiness [11:45]
I Will Learn To Love A Person [6:04]
Hoyt-Schermerhorn [7:40]
Timo Andres (piano)
Christopher Cerrone (electronics)
Linsey Kessleman (soprano)
Ian Rosenbaum (percussion)
Mingzhe Wang (clarinet)
rec. 2018/19, Bunker Studios, Brooklyn, New York

Those who embrace the arts avail themselves of a unique facility to communicate to the listeners, readers and viewers their innermost emotions and impressions. These are often difficult to discern, hidden between the lines, and so obscure that accurate interpretation is evasive, sometimes impossible. Patrons may form conclusions that are irrelevant and erroneous. It is often that one requires the guidance of experts, or coaching by the creator.

Personal experience indicates that aural-only auditioning this CD, in isolation from the detailed liner notes, results in a significantly different impression than if the two are done in tandem. What the composer’s thoughts and intentions are is the road map to total appreciation of the music; of course that was not a unique experience. In a similar vein, those who have a high regard for Rodrigo’s Concierto de Aranjuez will have expanded that affinity after discovering the meaning of the guitar/ cor anglais exchange in the opening of the slow movement.
The music in The Arching Path is not so easy to precisely categorize: it has been described as tricky to pin down, and ‘part of a tectonic shift in the new music landscape’. A broad assessment would be avant-garde chamber music. The composer’s previous two albums, Invisible Cities and The Pieces that Fall to Earth were ‘big,’ so on this occasion his ambition was something a little more intimate, and involving his chamber music. The album is also piano-centric.

The liner notes explain that the music on this CD examines how we metabolize place. It is a sort of travel log; the difference here is that the process centres not on the experience as it is witnessed, rather to record the after-shock long after the traveller returned home.

Place is the primary concern in much of the composer’s work. This is evidenced in his opera Invisible Cities (2013) and here in The Arching Path. The latter, combined with Hoyt Scherhorn were described as ekphrastic statements for solo piano that book-end the album.

The Arching Path was inspired by the composer’s visit to the Pont sul Basento in Potenza, Southern Italy. The bridge is notable for its structure: a simple span of concrete forming four connected arches with antler-like off- shoots. Carrone employs a variety of pianistic techniques to record his recollections and impressions of what he saw in this masterpiece by architect Sergio Musmeci.

Double Happiness also stems from his travels in Italy. Hoty-Schermerhorn was conceived after many late night commutes on the New York subway. The centrepiece of the album is I Will Learn to Love, an inward focussed song cycle that sets five poems by American writer Tao Lin.

The Washington Post’s ’21 composers and performers who sound like tomorrow,’ includes Christopher Cerrone, pianist, composer and bass player. The Brooklyn-based composer has collaborated with a veritable who’s who of classical ensembles; these included the Los Angeles Philharmonic, and Third Coast Percussion. He is an integral member of The Sleeping Giant Collective, a collective of six young American composers including Timo Andres, Ted Hearne, Robert Honstein, Andrew Norman and Jacob Cooper. His Invisible Opera was nominated for a Purlitzer Prize (2014), and The Pieces That Fall to Earth, a Grammy Award in 2020.

The litmus test for great music is - will it survive long term? Will there be sustained popularity commensurate with the era in which it was composed? While some define avant-garde music as ahead if its time, the corollary that it will sound like the music that follows, is not borne out historically. Even the masters such as Schoenburg and Berg, with some exceptions, wrote music that did not have much staying power. If however we discern that the music is telling us something human and worth knowing about the composer, then The Arching Path is a genre fit. This perception is reinforced by Cerrone’s own comments: ‘I am more and more interested in bringing everything in my world, as an artist, into my music.’ He further noted: ‘For me the thing about music is just to bring as wide a reference as possible about the things I love.’ There are also musical characteristics indicative that Cerrone, as a composer, wrestles honestly with aesthetic, and technical issues, a commonality among those who compose for this genre. He indicated that he cares less about structure, ’but ensuring the music is beautiful, sensuous and lyrical’.
For aficionados of the genre, this CD will be an enjoyable and enlightening experience; Cerrone is very creative and individual in his approach to composition. For the uninitiated, the music may require more than one audition, reinforced by an understanding of the composer’s emotions and intentions as revealed in the liner notes. The two are ideally conducted in collaboration. Aside from its musical virtues, listening to this recording on high-quality reproducing equipment reveals yet another appealing aspect: the range of interesting, and intriguing sounds produced are a sonic delight, captured via excellent recording techniques.
Zane Turner

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