Peter Gregson

Gabriel Prokofiev: Cello Multitracks

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British composer Gabriel Prokofiev is establishing enough of a reputation for himself that it shouldn't be long before it won't be necessary to add the obligatory qualifier, "grandson of Sergey," after his name. He wrote his Suite for 9 cellos for Peter Gregson, who performs it here. Gregson pre-recorded eight of the parts, and in performance plays the remaining part along with the recording. It's very much in the vein of Prokofiev's other music for the Nonclassical label, which he founded in 2003: a synthesis of garage music and electronica with sophisticated contemporary compositional techniques, strongly influenced by the repetitive structures of American minimalism. The suite is a successful, engaging piece of modern chamber music. Its appeal is not primarily melodic, but its textures and structures are distinctive, subtle, and varied. Much of it has a steady pulse, but within that constraint, the rhythmic writing is complex and nuanced. The third movement, Float Dance, is especially attractive, a bouncy, delicately textured filigree of sounds that's always slightly off-kilter. Gregson plays the dauntingly intricate lines with panache and complete assurance; his sweet, warm, full tone provides an intriguing counterpoint to the frequently spiky character of the material.

Prokofiev's suite makes up four of the album's 13 tracks, with the remainder devoted to remixes by various artists ranging from heavy-hitters like DJ Spooky to Europeans at the beginning of their careers. DJ Spooky's "Jerk Driver" Remix is one of the most inventive, with startling timbral variety and unpredictable, completely appropriate rhythmic jerkiness. The composer offers two remixes, one under his own name and one under name Medasyn. The engineering is immaculate. This is an album that should be of strong interest to anyone who cares about cutting-edge developments in classical chamber music. There are many composers of Prokofiev's generation who dabble in the interplay between classical and various popular styles, but Prokofiev stands out for his ability to merge genres without compromising either; he's the real thing.

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