Tuesday, 24 June 2014

Those with an open mind and ear will find much to fascinate and enjoy on a new release of classical works by Richard Reed Parry from Deutsche Grammophon

Richard Reed Parry (born October 4, 1977) http://arcadefire.com/site is a Canadian multi-instrumentalist, composer, producer, best known as a core member of the Grammy Award-winning indie rock band Arcade Fire, where he plays a wide variety of instruments, often switching between guitar, double bass, drums, celesta, keyboards, and accordion.

Parry studied electroacoustics and contemporary dance at Concordia University in Montreal. He has written commissioned works for Kronos Quartet, yMusic and Bryce Dessner, and his chamber works have been performed by the Calder Quartet and Warhol Dervish.

His first work for Orchestra, entitled For Heart, Breath and Orchestra was recorded by the Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony in 2011. For Heart, Breath and Orchestra is one of a number of works by Richard Reed Parry recorded for Deutsche Grammophon www.deutschegrammophon.com/gb/cat/4793061 by the young performers that make up the sextet yMusic http://ymusicensemble.com along with Bryce and Aaron Dessnerwww.brycedessner.com http://posthocmanagement.com/client/aaron-dessner  the Kronos Quartet www.kronosquartet.org and the composer himself entitled Music for Heart and Breath.

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The first work on this new release is Richard Reed Parry’s Quintet for Heart and Breath performed by members of Ymusic http://ymusicensemble.com  an ensemble equally comfortable in the overlapping classical and pop music worlds and who play a unique combination of instruments: string trio, flute, clarinet and trumpet.

Pizzicato strings open and are soon joined by the flute followed by trumpet, then pizzicato cello. A longer bowed violin motif is heard against the repeated rhythmic sounds of the other instruments. Despite its minimalistic elements there are so many variations of tempo and textures that the interest is always kept. The cello draws rich, long drawn chords before the trumpet provides staccato phrases over the pizzicato strings. Eventually a slower, longer breathed melodic passage arrives with some lovely textures but it is the pizzicato strings and staccato phrases that lead to the coda.

For Heart and Breath sextet members of Ymusic are joined by pianist Nico Muhly http://nicomuhly.com opening with a sliding, falling motif on the violin opens before being developed with the cello joining quietly. This is strange and remarkably affecting writing for strings to which a piano adds a rippling motif. Soon there are long string phrases, a little anguished in sound before the piano interrupts, then some phrases for strings. The cello and piano sound out before gentler string phrases before rich cello phrases alternate with strong piano chords. A melancholy string theme arrives with some beautifully intense playing from these artists. When the piano re-enters alone a chiming motif is repeated whilst the strings gently enter in this lovely moment. As the piano motif continues, the strings give little droops and slides. The cello plays a rising motif above the repeated chiming piano motif, as then do the strings to that lead to the coda.

This fifteen minute sextet is highly attractive and well worth hearing.

For Heart, Breath and Orchestra, Richard Reed Parry’s first work for orchestra is played here by members of Ymusic, Nadia Sirota (viola), Hideaki Aomori (clarinet) and Clarice Jensen (cello) with Nico Muhly (piano),  Caroline Shaw (violin), Caleb Burhans (violin), Shawn Conley (double bass), Amelia Lukas (flute), Yuki Numata (violin), Courtney Orlando (violin), Annaliesa Place (violin), Arthur Sato (oboe), Brian Snow (cello) and Richard Reed Parry (celeste) forming a chamber sized orchestra.

Pizzicato strings open this work in a series of little phrases before a pizzicato violin leads to another motif for all the strings playing pizzicato. A cello quietly enters on a long held note against the pizzicato players before all the players join, creating an attractive blend. The music continues with cello phrases alternating with pizzicato strings and piano until it fades to silence.  Deeper pizzicato strings then emerge, growing slowly louder and faster. The celeste plays a little theme as the pizzicato strings climb higher with the sound of a wood block. As the theme continues, it becomes fuller in sound as the whole ensemble join, including a flute before fading.  A sudden outburst of pizzicato strings leads the music on, with the flute and other instruments sounding through. Longer cello phrases emerge from the ensemble with much rapid pizzicato playing that leads to the coda.

Interruptions – Heart and Breath Nonet is in ten movements or sections and again features YMusic this time joined by Bryce Dessner and Aaron Dessner (guitars) and Richard Reed Parry.

The cello opens I Miniature before pizzicato strings interrupt, with the cello playing a lovely melody. II String Peaks brings a deep cello melody against a sonorous ensemble in a slightly hesitant piece. There are some lovely string and wind sonorities.

III Wind’s Idea has a rich cello opening with quietly strummed guitar phrases and chirpy flute appearing with, again, lovely rich sonorities from the ensemble. String arpeggios accompany the cello melody in IV Miniature II before V Sticks Tension brings gentle strummed strings, flute and trumpet. Soon a long held high note from the clarinet is heard with the strummed guitars before the cello enters. A pulsating passage from trumpet, cello and strings builds a constantly shifting harmony.

Strings open with a lovely theme in VI French guitars, where guitars are gently strummed and a curious whistling sound is heard, very like the Flexatone.  As the entire ensemble join in this languorous section beautiful harmonies are created. A long held trumpet note enters over the ensemble leading to coda. Strings and trumpet open VII Freedom Winds, Strings and Drones providing long phrases in this sonorous movement, full of dense textures. Slowly the music rises in a wonderful sequence with the drone of strings and a plangent trumpet.

This is a very unusual, captivating piece.

Heart and Breath Duet features Nadia Sirota (viola) www.nadiasirota.com and Richard Reed Parry (piano). Both cello and piano open the duet with a rocking theme for piano and longer held phrases for cello that slowly rise up to hushed, gently breathed phrases. There is a pause before the theme continues, with the cello gliding over the strings in hushed, breath like sounds. Another pause occurs before the piano continues its rocking rhythm with the cello providing firmer, soulful phrases before suddenly stopping.

This is a slight but unusual conception with some lovely instrumental sounds.

Parry’s Quartet for Heart and Breath features the renowned Kronos Quartet and opens with pizzicato phrases that are slowly built in layers as each player enters. Here Parry’s minimalist qualities return. A longer breathed theme appears over pizzicato lower strings before the cello plays deep chords again over the pizzicato strings. There is no real development in this piece, just varying textures. The pizzicato strings become dominant before the longer breathed theme arrives with all players joining in the drone like sonorities. The pizzicato motif returns and slowly leads to the coda.

There is some fine, sensitive playing from the Kronos Quartet in this piece that brings more of Parry’s interest in subtle sonorities.

My advance copy of this disc has a bonus track, Interruption: VII Freeform Winds only, a version of VII for wind only for woodwind and brass only, allowing the striking sonorities to emerge more clearly.

Those with an open mind and ear will find much to fascinate and, indeed, to enjoy here, especially the lovely sonorities Richard Reed Parry achieves.

One or two tracks are recorded rather closely, sometimes at the expense of clarity but the recording is clear and, overall, very detailed.

Richard Reed Parry’s band, Arcade Fire are headlining on the Pyramid Stage at Glastonbury 2014, on Friday, 27th June. www.glastonburyfestivals.co.uk

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