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Thursday, October 9, 2014

Steve Peters, From Shelter

Time today for another from the "radical tonality" modern composer group. Steve Peters comes front and center for an EP of "Three Short Stories" and "My Burning Skin to Sleep", on From Shelter (Cold Blue 0018).

The works play themselves out in slow, folkish diatonic asymmetry. "Three Short Stories" centers around multiple violas played by Alicia Ultan for a haunting, nearly vibratoless counterpoint of intervallic cells that are ever-changing yet have a cantabile, rural song-like unfolding. It is almost like folk fiddling, yet very slow and without an ABA structure.

"My Burning Skin to Sleep" turns to multiple vocals by Marghreta Cordero and the piano of the composer. They continue in the slow deliberate manner of the "Stories", only now we have a repeating chord progression that underpins wordless vocals in a slow counter-interaction of their own. The work goes well with the "Short Stories", almost a continuation of the work by other means and intervallic relations. The delicate chordal ostinato of the piano contrasts against the endless melodic-diatonic, purposeful wanderings of the voices. Plaintive? Just a touch.

I won't say that this is one of the very best of the Cold Blue EPs. Yet it is very attractive, beautifully sedate. The long winding trail of diatonic variations makes this music far from banal.

The performances make the music flow like a pond with a slow undulating motion in the waters. . . a light wind on a fall afternoon, perhaps, making the movement possible.

It is well thought-out fare. Delightful. Meditative.

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