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Michael Byron's second feature CD for Cold Blue continues to explore the contrasting possibilities made available by pairing a string quartet with pianos. The first two pieces (17 and 15 minutes long, accounting for half of the total duration of the disc) are scored for two pianos, synthesizer, string quartet, and double bass. They feature Sarah Cahill, Joseph Kubera, Kathleen Supove, the FLUX Quartet, and Gregg August in these respective roles. Both pair minimalist string/synth tonal drones with wilder piano phrases that grow longer and more complex with time. Opening the album, "Continents of City and Love" hits the highest on the beauty scale, rivalling John Luther Adams' best pieces. It has that kind of soothing serenity to it. "Tidal," the only piece written before 2000 (in 1981, to be precise, but freshly recorded), follows a similar canvas but remains a bit colder. "Evaporated Pleasure," the longest track of this set at over 18 minutes, is a four-handed piano piece performed by Cahill and Kubera. It is impressive, thanks to its use of a modified equal temperament scale and jerky motion, but strikes a huge and uncomfortable contrast with what came before it. Maximalist, almost chaotic, it contains its share of surprises (including a false ending on a childlike unison phrase halfway through), but is much more cerebral than "Continents of City and Love." A similar approach is applied to the FLUX Quartet in the title track. Here, each string player follows his or her own path of fast, jerky phrases, all played in a single passage of the bow. All four parts fall into place in unexpected moments, reminding listeners that the piece is scored -- and it's more clever than it may seem in print. The album ends with "As She Sleeps," a delicate piano solo that brings back memories of the kind of beauty developed in the first pieces.
|Label:||Cold Blue Label|
Performance CreditsMichael Byron Primary Artist
Kathleen Supové Synthesizer
Joseph Kubera Piano
Darrett Adkins Cello
Mel Mandel Viola
Tom Chiu Violin
Sarah Cahill Piano
Gregg August Double Bass
FLUX Quartet Ensemble,String Quartet
Technical CreditsJim Fox Producer
Scott Lehrer Engineer
Bob Shumaker Engineer
Jim Fox Producer
Robert Shumaker Engineer
Michael Byron Composer,Producer,Score