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Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Juri Seo, Mostly Piano

Juri Seo is a composer-pianist who resides in my state of the States, New Jersey. Some of her music stands out on the recent release Mostly Piano (Innova 968). As the title suggests, this is...mostly works for piano. But not just any works.

For Ms. Seo has her own way, tonal--and the examples "#Three" (for piano and percussion), "Three Mini-Etudes in C" and parts of "Piano Sonata No.1 - 'La Hammerklavier'" show a rhythmic vitality bursting at the seams with dynamic tension and personal form. The sonata has a lyrical-classical aspect that glances backward as it forges ahead into something unique to the composer.

The "Etudes for Cimbalom" cover much ground in six movements. Folk dance elements and contrasts, energetic dynamics and contemplative counterthrusts intermingle for some exhilarating fireworks.

The final piece, a solo piano and percussion piece entitled "vi" (2010) marked her inaugural return to tonality, in this case triads and seventh chords contrasting bitonal ambiguity with tonal clarity. There is as with the other works a somewhat startling freshness about the music.

So that is what I experience from this album, telegraphed in necessarily sketchy ways to fit the here and gone format of the everyday blog pages. There would be a great deal more to say were I to concentrate for the rest of the day on why this music is special. For the spinning world we are in I must simply iterate that Juri Seo is a modern original, and that her music on the current volume veers into breathtaking territory at times, and for all that never seems content to work inside the usual trends that occupy much of the contemporary music world.


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