GLORIA COATES – At Midnight

Tzadik

Cambridge Theatre Orchestra conducted by Neil Thompson; Peter Sheppard Skærved: violin; Alessandro Taverna: piano; Kreutzer String Quartet; Ruth Fischer, Stephen Stiens: guitar; Christine Hoock: double bass.

It is refreshing to see that Gloria Coates prefers not to over-detail her compositions via verbose notes and hyper-analytical technicalities. This writer genuinely despises that attitude when tackling contemporary works, for unreasonable anal-retentiveness in that sense usually distracts from the constitutional audible materials, when not hiding out-and-out creative deficiencies. Alternatively, she talks of “subconscious and conscious mind” when referring to the interaction between a violin and the orchestra in the dramatic “Holographic Universe”, or defines “The Silver-Eyed Soul” as a “counterpoint of both tones and colors” as double bass and piano “circle each other”. In this attempt to deliver the music from a composer’s narcissistic heaviness, Coates recalls Roland Kayn’s penchant for abstract delineations in his equally emancipated cybernetic conceptions. The comparability is all the more valid when the breathtaking see-sawing glissando that are emblematic of the American’s scores appear, nailing our transfixed mental stare to the currents of the psyche still leading to something that counts in this world of careless nonentities.

However, this compendium of opuses dating from 1962 (“Among The Asteroids”) to 2008 (the above mentioned and utterly impressive “The Silver-Eyed Soul”) is not just about parabolic strings and harmonic uncertainty. “Where The Eagle Flies”, for solo piano, is replete with “classically minimalist” gradations and, oddly enough, slightly pervaded by a modicum of romantic yearning. “IV: Lunar Loops” (dating from 1978 and not 1986, as erroneously written on the CD’s inner leaflet) is scored for two guitars that, besides gradually shifting single pitches through manual detuning during the performance, increase the levels of sonic innervation while adding percussive forcefulness. If you are acquainted with Lois V. Vierk’s “Go Guitars” – a younger relative with akin sonorities – you’ll see what I mean.

Hearing how the instruments physically react to the masterful touches by all the involved players throughout these 67 minutes is pure delight. One perceives the woods and the rosin, the rubbing noises on the fingerboards, scents of concentration and uncontaminated passion blending inside peculiar structures. At Midnight needs numerous attentive listens to reveal its bewitching power, reaching peaks of immensity with the arrhythmic simplicity of a series of baby steps across the uncommonness of orchestral modernism.

Posted in Uncategorized