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Classical Music Review

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Piece by Piece


Composer: Beth Mehocic
Conductor: Stanislav Vavřínek
Performed by: Moravian Philharmonic Chamber Players
Label: Ravello Records
Release Date: 10 March 2017

Ravello Records presents the digital single Piece by Piece by composer Beth Mehocic. Her work here is scored for flute, bass clarinet, trumpet, bass trombone, violin, contrabass, and percussion and is performed by the Moravian Philharmonic Chamber Players. Piece by Piece was commissioned by the Erick Hawkins Dance Company of New York City in honour of their former director and composer-in-residence, Lucia Dlugoszewski...

I'm not a huge fan of experimental, modern classical music. For me, classical music should stir something in the listener. It should move them to tears or bring them to the peak of ecstasy... not have them clapping their hands over their ears or reaching to turn the volume down. Nor should it be about making the instruments make noises that they don't normally make (as interesting as this may sound, it doesn't normally make for good music). There are exceptions to this, however - Stephen Ruppenthal's trumpet based Flamethrower, for example.

Piece by Piece was commissioned to honour the work and life of Lucia Dlugoszewski, who is known for her developments in avant-garde music technique and experimental music. So it's not surprising to hear that Beth Mehocic includes a number of these techniques in the piece, including pitch bends, rapid glissandi, muting techniques, and extreme ranges. These effects also incorporate brassy wails, brittle string snaps, and nasally trumpet. It also creates the illusion of free rhythm, with an energy that is constantly shifting.

So, while normally this style would have turned me off completely, there is an interesting driving force behind Mehocic's musical choices, and if bending the art form is your thing then there's much to enjoy here. The piece represents a single track and lasts for 10 min, 51 sec.

The only thing to be wary of is that at the time of writing, the online stores were charging well over the RRP for this item. You might find it cheaper by going direct to Ravello's website.


Darren Rea

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