Notes & Reviews:
"[Ziporyn's] whole career has been about making us see and hear that music is one world." - The Boston Globe Following the critically acclaimed Frog's Eye (CA21040, 2006) Big Grenadilla/Mumbai marks the second Cantaloupe Music collaboration between composer/clarinetist Evan Ziporyn and Gil Rose's Boston Modern Orchestra Project (BMOP). It is also the second time that Evan has teamed up with world-renowned tabla player Sandeep Das - a member of the Silk Road Ensemble - thus forging together a non-western master musician with a premiere western orchestra. Commissioned and premiered by the American Composers Orchestra in 2006, Big Grenadilla features Evan Ziporyn on bass clarinet and is named for the wood from which clarinets are made and the "big" orchestra, magnifying and framing. Wanting to highlight and amplify what he likes to do best on his instrument, Evan calls the piece "an attempt at ancestor worship, on two levels: the instrument dreams of its living, rooted reality, with the orchestra playing the role of its environs." Mumbai is a memorial to and meditation on the terrorist bombings in that city in 2008. Mumbai was commissioned by the Boston Modern Orchestra Project and premiered alongside with Grammy nominated soloist Sandeep Das on May 27, 2011.Notes & Reviews:
Recording information: Jordan Hall, Boston (05/29/2011/06/30/2011).
The title track, Big Grenadilla, is a fascinating concerto for bass clarinet (Evan Ziporyn) and orchestra. It opens with a long multi-effect cadenza, with lots of circular breathing, multiphonics (that sound like guitar feedback), sub-harmonics, bending, slapping, etc. The orchestra gradually enters, imitating the various cadenza effects and sustaining pitch-sets until it suddenly jumps into a tutti, metered, rhythmic section (that has at once a renaissance flair). The music is decidedly tonal, full of open fifths with the main motivic idea embedded in the rhythm. There is no BOAC angst here, but is immediately warm and accessible. One senses a strong connection with mainstream American orchestral repertoire, while the pentatonic scales add an eastern, late Benjamin Britten flavor. The bass clarinet reenters with nice transparent concertino writing, with lots of pentatonic arpeggio melodies flying into the air, imitated canonically throughout the orchestra. All the while there a lightness in the perpetual motion of the groove that leads into a gradually expanding progression /passacaglia climax. The climax itself is a sustained trance-like simple progression that fades then returns with more interesting, fresh writing (love the downward gliss of the trombones). Really great piece—my only minor complain is the orchestra reverb sometimes clouded the rhythmic intricacies.
The second piece ‘Mumbai’ is a kind of tabla concerto (Sandeep Das), with string orchestra and percussion. It opens with tuned gongs; the pitches and overtones imitated in sustain strings. Then an edgy, slow groove starts in the orchestra dispersed among the percussion section. Lots of nice contrasting counter-rhythms in the tuttis build up, followed by moments of serene stillness. The tabla enters into the groove very stereo miked, and very ‘in your face’ foreground. Meanwhile, there’s something really haunting, outer worldly in all the string sustains. Then starts what sounds like a 1st variation, string tutti; perpetual, melodic, 16th note cell. This opens up into more melodic fragments/counterpoint while the tablet locks the groove (vaguely reminiscent of the Tippet double string concerto-sans tabla, of course). There’s a brief tabla cadenza-followed by what sounds like a 2nd variation with more 16th note string cell and woodblock motive on chord changes (the key changes reminiscent of Reich). The writing is amazingly beautiful, delicate and full of a mysterious aura, as if behind a veil of multiple compositional designs. The sustained ecstatic climax is really fresh and gorgeous even if the metered writing is a hair beyond the orchestra’s rehearsal time or good takes. This movement is worth the CD alone.
Movement 2 opens with a tabla cadenza at a faster tempo. The Percussion responses with string microtonal sustain. Immediately, another aspect/element of this music becomes apparent –its stillness is similar to some European Spectral Composers – Saariaho especially. Yet this is something quite different. There’s an impenetrable depth and profundity going on, at once traditional, yet very new.
Movement 3 opens with an undulating string motive that becomes quasi-accompanimental. The music gets even more mysterious, sounding like gentle line drawings with blurred edges. Nice chord changes introducing more complex harmonies in what sounds like a recitative structure. This Debussy dream world opens up into an ever-reaching progression while gorgeous recurring sections come back again and again like a fragrant déjà vu. The progression expands into greater dissonance—followed by a huge firmata and then a slow coda ending. The coda moves seamlessly into double/quadruple time on a very slow fade.
Can’t recommend this great CD enough---well worth getting!
Submitted on 05/10/12 by Mike Maguire
Works DetailsZiporyn, Evan : Big Grenadilla, for bass clarinet & orchestra
- Performers: Sandeep Das (Tabla); Evan Ziporyn (Clarinet)
- Conductor: Gil Rose
- Ensemble: Boston Modern Orchestra Project
- Running Time: 14 min. 16 sec.
- Period Time: Contemporary
- Form: Concerto
Ziporyn, Evan : Mumbai, for tabla, strings & percussion
- Performers: Evan Ziporyn (Clarinet); Sandeep Das (Tabla)
- Conductor: Gil Rose
- Running Time: 17 min. 41 sec.
- Period Time: Contemporary