Patrick Castillo leads a multifaceted career as a composer, performer, writer, and educator. His music has been described as “restrained and reflective but brimming with a variety of texture and sound that draws you into its world” (I Care If You Listen) and has been presented at festivals and venues throughout the United States and internationally.
Pianist Vicky Chow Cultivates Vast Arsenal of Sound in 'A O R T A'
Monday, November 21, 2016
A O R T A, the latest solo album by pianist Vicky Chow, features music by six composers – Andy Akiho, Christopher Cerrone, Jakub Ciupinski, Jacob Cooper, Molly Joyce, and Daniel Wohl – with whom Chow has enjoyed longstanding collaborative relationships.
Fittingly, the album makes an impression as a deeply personal statement from the stalwart proponent for contemporary music. “I wanted to create an album about light, love, emotion and humanity,” Chow says. A O R T A certainly succeeds in reaching the listener’s heart; even more so, the album titillates the ear with its vast arsenal of sounds.
The album begins with Cerrone’s Hoyt-Schermerhorn, a quiet love letter to New York City (if perhaps an illegible one to you Manhattanites). A series of chords wades through a haunting resonance, punctured by stray dissonances and skittering electronics, evoking a long ride home on the G train in the wee hours. Digital effects create entrancing aural illusions in Cooper’s Clifton Gates, which likewise nods to a Brooklyn locale, as well as to John Adams’s Phrygian Gates.
Joyce’s Rave begins on a similarly atmospheric note, but proceeds to lead the ear on a tumultuous sonic journey; the artfully developed electronic component rewards, and slowly ravishes, the attentive listener. Another standout on the album is electronics wizard Ciupinski’s four-movement Morning Tale. The work’s ascetic melodic and harmonic material allows the ear to focus on Ciupinski’s brilliantly varied piano-and-electronics textures.
Akiho’s Vick(i/y) (written for Vicky Chow and Vicki Ray), for prepared piano, makes for a shrewd finale to the album: after traversing such an expansive spectrum of electronic sounds, Akiho’s reimagination of the piano, sans electronics, results in A O R T A’s most richly colored and affecting piece. The composers have a first-rate advocate in Chow, whose piquant pianism breathes life into the lush sound world they have imagined.
Vicky Chow: A O R T A
New Amsterdam Records | Released Nov. 18
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