Glenn Horiuchi

Elegy for Sarajevo

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Pianist, koto and shamisen player, composer, and bandleader Glenn Horiuchi is one of the most sociopolitically minded cats in experimental music. With a band who includes Francis Wong on reeds, William Roper on tuba, and percussionist Joseph Mitchell, Horiuchi performs six compositions, including the 20-minute "Elegy." The title piece is paced slowly, like Horiuchi's best work. Influenced tonally by Messiaen's Quartet for the End of Time, it is full of long, open spaces. The brooding, meditative stature of the piece demands listeners pay attention; the dynamic range is very small and ranges from "p" to "ppp." Horiuchi employs his Japanese instruments here; he plays them as human voices crying in the foreground and the distance, as the clarinet and tuba form a subtle body on which to support them. The effect is chilling and more than a little disconcerting, but exquisitely beautiful. Elsewhere, on "Conic Sections" and "Watercolor #1," Horiuchi moves into timbral and chromatic studies with the same kind of restraint; he's scoring out larger sections for his musicians to play and then reining in their emotion and force as a way of boiling it down to essence. Many composers write this way; few direct or inspire well enough to pull it off. Horiuchi, who can be erratic, has put together a program here that is truly dramatic, artfully cast, and executed. This is a singular and necessary view of the new music.

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