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Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Erik Griswold, Ecstatic Descent, for Prepared Piano

Nietschke's division of art into the Apollonian, or the even-keeled, the stately and perhaps, reserved, and the Dionysian, the ecstatic, orgiastic, the exuberantly unleashed, can be illuminating when applied to music. John Cage's prepared piano music might be seen fruitfully as the former, unwinding at a steady and understated pace. Erik Griswold's prepared piano opus Ecstatic Descent (Cold Blue Music CB0047), on the other hand, is firmly in the Dionysian camp, a beautiful torrent of exotic timbred notes.

For those new to all this the prepared piano was essentially invented by Cage by inserting metal, rubber and other sonically altering objects on or between the strings to give the piano a radically transformed sound more like a percussion orchestra than not. His series of prepared piano works from the late '30s on were breakthrough works that first definitively identified him as an important American composer.

Through the years others took on this configuration in various ways. Erik Griswold gives us his very own take--with a rousingly manic, key-centered adventure fascinating to hear. Halfway through there are brief pauses now and again that re-situate the tumult and give it definition.

The 45-minute work has so rich a cornucopia of sound colors that it never ceases to fascinate. There is not a minute too much. All lays out fittingly, with a fresh ambiance that neither relaxes nor wearies the close listener.

Kudos! This is a blast.

Oh, and here is the link to the MP3 if you are interested:

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