Saturday, June 20, 2015

Paola Prestini - "Listen, Quiet" (from the 'Something of Life' compilation, Innova 2014)

Paola Prestini is a contemporary composer who I am very fond of. Her music cannot be pigeonholed and her output is extremely varied with all sorts of collaborations, including many multimedia works and installations. Possibly her greatest effort, the album "Body Maps" was recorded some years back on John Zorn's wonderful and inexhaustible Tzadik Records. I will post it soon.

"Listen, Quiet" is a 15 minute long composition and multimedia work scored for percussion (including a 'prepared' water set), amplified cello, voice and electronics (with backing tracks, drum set etc.) It was written for cellist Jeffrey Zeigler and percussionist Pablo Rieppi. It begins with percussive effects that may bring to mind Lou Harrison, the African marimba, but also Latin American music (especially salsa, Latin jazz and cuban music) with the sound of the Latin American instrument called the claves (which was either used or its woodsy clicks recreated electronically..I do not know for sure). Quite striking (and a bit alarming) are the sounds of a woman crying or speaking in some unintelligible tongue which is first heard at 0:40' into the piece. I was baffled and intrigued when I first heard this, and somehow these sounds seemed to feel like genuine distress. Sometime later I read what the composer had to say about this; my intuition was correct (what she says I have added below..) "Listen, Quiet" has it's "quieter" moments with the cello singing in an almost twisted plainchant paired down with just a few instruments, as well as a most beautiful section (starting around 7:55) where the cello flows, lyrically and mournfully, with the addition of minimal percussion and what appears to be hushed vocals/humming that keeps fading away mysteriously.
About 4 minutes later, a one-sided conversation can be heard along with pizzicato cello, evoking for me some sort of gypsy language or chatter. At the same time, one can audibly hear that there's actually English in the mix, although it's rather hard to make out. The music continues with passages that are "quiet", and then loud (lively cello, ceremonial or dance-like percussion..), and then quiet once again. An unusual piece this, but one that I thoroughly enjoy!

"Listen, Quiet" premiered March 17th, 2010 at the Willson Theater (The Juilliard School's state of the art multimedia theater). It was then premiered with choreography by Kate Skarpetowska at Capture and Release, at the 2013 River to River Festival.

**I am curious to know what you think about this work-love it or hate it. Please comment,
it would also be very nice to hear from some of you who never have commented-especially
if you are a fan of contemporary music!**

The composer writes:

This commission celebrated the 10th anniversary of Beyond the Machine, A Festival of Electro-Acoustic and Multi-Media Art. "Listen, Quiet" explores the way I feel about water in my life: it nurtures, heals, separates. The work is based on recorded private conversations that struggle with live performance. The piece was inspired by the third panel in "Going Forth By Day" a multi-channel work by Bill Viola. In this specific video panel, water accumulates throughout the thirty minute cycle, and eventually, washes out an entire home, its memories, delusions, stories. The work is divided in two halves.

Listen: I had recorded an artist’s voice this past summer who was dealing with a great deal of pain, thinking that this work would eventually ease her pain, and illuminate her vicious cycle. The work assigns roles to each player: the cellist narrates, the percussionist is the perpetrator and symbolizes the indifference, at times, of life; the manipulated voices recount her story, and the natural elements eventually wash away her voices, leaving only sounds of nature. Perhaps easing the pain, perhaps narrating that these stories are in fact, the everyday, and they are cyclical.

Quiet: is a hymn to voices from my childhood, of my mother. They tell a story of magic, and of the memories that shaped us both.

-This is also a file hosting "test" post..since share is giving me grief I sent this mp3 file to sendspace, which I never used before. -It's under 30mb but please tell me what you think of sendspace..  

Enjoy the strangeness of it all


griebs said...

for such a small file, very slow. but i remember the days of dial-up, what else am i going to do? your work is very appreciated by me.

Squirrel said...

Site is okay, but it is the music that's wonderful. Thanks TZ

Anonymous said...

An intriguing work. The explanatory notes are necessary to get the full depth of it's musical poetry. Integrating what sounds like outdoor wind chimes and a typewriter in the Quiet section is a unique touch.
As for Sendspace, an easy 2 click to download without pop ups was nice. The file came down in about 7 minutes with 20mbs internet speed. Although Zippy is much faster, it has become inundated with pop ups and anti-robot 'pick the sushi' tasks which has taken some of the pleasure of using it. Even with these annoyances, Zippy is still a preferable option to other share sites where wait times are present. Thanks for all of your unusual musical shares. Definitely music I would have missed out on otherwise in life. Happy Sunday!

Tzadik said...

Hi there griebs, thank you for taking the time to comment/leave kind words! I like to see
new names around here :) It's doubtful that I will use that file hosting again, it was a test
mostly and share seems to be running fine now.



Tzadik said...

Hi Squirrel, I agree about the music, it is an interesting trip to take! She's quite the original voice
on the contemporary scene.


Tzadik said...

Anon, thanks for your kind words and Im'm happy to introduce you to new music.
Yes, share is still the best place to u/l files I think. 'mega' (out of New Zealand or someplace)
is also very good, and streamlined looking-but I think you must register there, possibly pay
a fee too but I dunnooo. I hope share doesn't go down like many before it!


Tzadik said...

Ooops z-share that is. and yes, I do believe we hear the sounds of a classic typewriter, a very nice touch!


cjvinthechair said...

Hi, Mr. T. !
Busy working away from home currently, but a chance today to catch up a little.
Success with a couple of Zippyshare albums, thanks, but no joy at all with this one, which just sends me round in circles !
Sorry - any inspiration ?

Barron said...

I greatly enjoyed the piece (somewhat to my surprise), and would love to hear more.

I found the download quite slow.

Tzadik said...

Hello CJV, how are you? Happy you have found some gems here 'in the mix'. Paola Prestini isn't for everyone needless to say. Hmm, I hope you check out the Hovhaness disc I posted tonight-plenty of inspiration there!!

Be well friend,


Tzadik said...

Barron, thanks for commenting! I will post Prestini's "Body Maps" disc soon then. Stay tuned :)