Vinny Golia

Feeding Frenzy

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What is so compelling about Vinny Golia's work is his ability as a composer to imagine the way things might sound through experimentation. Here, he performs ten of his compositions on piccolos, flutes, and clarinet with a traditional string quartet of two violins, cello, and string bass. Rather than simply using the strings as a backdrop, Golia brings them to the forefront. It is difficult to tell where composition and improvisation diverge, but Golia solos often either with or without the strings. For example, on "Subtrafuge," his incredible technique permits him to dance elastically with virtually no support underneath. This album is a classic gender-smasher, with Golia's mature writing incorporating strategies from modern classical music, while he engages in free improvisation on the reeds. The strings are much more than wallpaper: Their parts feature them in a wild run through the park, with splendid intensity and active, forward-moving lines. As Golia flutters and stretches -- sometimes to amazing heights -- the strings are usually with him, bantering and buzzing like bees on speed. At other times, individual string players come forward and provide what appears to be creative improvisation. (If they are not improvising, then Golia makes them seem as though they were). On "When Elephants Then Come Waltzing Through Your Living Room," the string quartet shows it ability to indulge in a variety of moods, from slow and endearing to fast and furious.

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