Enrico Chapela and Anna Clyne display an “arresting command of a vast sound world.”
Both Enrico Chapela and Anna Clyne made Los Angeles Philharmonic debuts on Esa Pekka Salonen’s final Green Umbrella concert program, April 7. From Chapela, an “exciting visceral” Li Po, contrasted with Clyne’s “quiet, but surprisingly expansive” Within Her Arms. The Los Angeles Times praised the composers for displaying “an arresting command of a vast sound world” and The New Yorker determined that “…Chapela and Clyne had the strongest impact” of all the works on the concert.
The New Yorker continued, “Chapela’s ‘Li Po’ makes virtuosic use of unconventional instrumental sounds—multiphonics, bowed percussion, glissando everywhere—and envelops them in voluptuous electronic textures. Yet the work is more than an onslaught of effects: tendrils of melody curl around the ear, harmonic colors glow eerily bright, rhythms have a folkish, danceable thrust. (The Philharmonic will surely commission Chapela to write a piece for Salonen’s successor, the volcanic young Venezuelan conductor Gustavo Dudamel.)
“Clyne’s ‘Within Her Arms,’ in stark contrast, is a fragile elegy for fifteen strings; intertwining voices of lament bring to mind English Renaissance masterpieces of Thomas Tallis and John Dowland, although the music occasionally breaks down into spells of static grief, with violins issuing broken cries over shuddering double-bass drones.”
The New York Times reported, “‘Li Po,’ by the Mexican-born Enrico Chapela, had a circuitous genesis. He became enthralled with the writings of a Mexican poet, José Juan Tablada, who had long been immersed in the life and work of the Chinese poet Li Po. After recording himself reading a free Spanish translation of a Li Po poem, Mr. Chapela transcribed the phonetics of his recorded speech into musical sounds.
“Yet you could listen to this work without knowing anything of its origins and still be swept along by the wash of colors, the sputtering mechanistic energy and the riot of instrumental and amplified sounds.
"Anna Clyne’s 'Within Her Arms,'...is music for the composer’s mother, very tender, with elegiac melodic phrases and quietly restless, rhythmically staggered contrapuntal lines. During stretches of this ruminative piece, wandering harmonies and hazy textures lent an affecting uncertainty to music... ."
The Los Angeles Times applauded Chapela for his “…compelling instrumental effects” and “exciting visceral rhythms…” and Clyne for her “…quietly restless, rhythmically staggered contrapuntal lines,” adding “‘Within Her Arms’…was the only piece without electronics, but you would hardly have guessed from her luminous textures or those amazingly deep buzzing basses whose sound seemed to come from somewhere under the stage.”
Sequenza21.com added “…Li Po is a composition for 18 musicians (eight winds, eight strings, two percussion) for a prismatic combination of shifting sounds and colors. … The musical structure was complex, crying for a second hearing, but completely fascinating as it evolved. Listening to the work I was unaware of the passage of time.
“Within Her Arms by Anna Clyne provided a fascinating change. … What could be the melody of a lyrical folk song is taken up by the instruments, sometimes in sections, sometimes individually, repeated, reflected, recombined, and then a return to the original melody. Clyne achieved depth and complexity and interest from her skills with simplicity.”
> Further information on Work: Li Po
> Further information on Work: Within Her Arms
Photo credit: Denise Anderson
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