Wednesday, January 4, 2017
David Smooke, Nutshell Studies of Unexplained Death
The title work is scored as a concerto for toy piano (Smooke) and the Peabody Wind Ensemble under Harlan Parker. It translates into music a series of tiny sculpted figures used in the Office of the Medical Examiner of Maryland to train staff in forensic science. It is a work of genuine interest and drama.
"Transgenic Fields, dusk" for solo piano expresses a long, slowly unwinding melody to overarch a series of constantly modulatiing harmonies.
"A Baby Bigger Grows Than Up Was, Vol. 1: A to Breathing" and "Some Details of Hell" concentrate on solo vocals, small chamber ensembles and vivid text to portray language learning in the former and the sudden loss of a loved one in the latter.
"down.stream" concentrates on a solo toy piano and a looping pedal to realize kaleidoscopic landscapes of a vividly colorful nature.
"21 Miles to Coolville" was inspired by an actual sign the composer saw continually near his apartment in Ohio. The music depicts an imaginary journey to a cool place. Multiple bassoons bring the music to us.
The program takes us on a kind of whirlwind tour of the varied sonic possibilities Smooke realizes for our contemplation. It is a music of adventure, a future-in-the-present.
Those readers who reside in the NY area may want to check out a special night at National Sawdust devoted to David Smooke's music--featuring selections and performers from this album. It all happens this January 22nd at 7pm. For more info go to https://nationalsawdust.org/event/classical-nutshell-studies-of-unexplained-death/#toggle-id-1