Mellits Consort

Marc Mellits: Paranoid Cheese

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Marc Mellits (born in 1966) has impressive academic credentials, but like many composers of his generation, he is making a career for himself outside of academia. He formed an ensemble, the Mellits Consort, to perform his music, and the group is heard playing 11 of his compositions on this CD. Mellits has been described as "a witty post-minimalist," and based on his work presented here, the label fits pretty well. His music is sometimes reminiscent of the composers of Bang on a Can, a group that has in fact played his music. (He has also received commissions from ensembles as diverse as the Kronos Quartet, the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra, and Canadian Brass.) The works here use the devices of classic minimalism -- repeated patterns and static, tonal harmonies -- without apology, and one piece is dedicated to Philip Glass. Mellits doesn't limit himself to the strict processes of minimalism, and his interests in rock and funk, as well as the new music scene, are clearly audible in his music. Much of it is genial, clever, and inventive in its blending of varied styles and approaches to composition. Mellits apparently draws considerable inspiration from food, and in addition to the title track, his pieces include The Misadventures of Soup (which is recorded here), Disciples of Gouda, Fruit Loops, Fruity Pebbles, and Spam. The Mellits Consort, consisting of the composer on keyboard, violinist Cristina Buciu, cellist Elizabeth Simkin, marimba player Danny Tunick, and guitarist Dominic Frasca, plays with perky high spirits well suited to the music and with tenderness in the album's two elegies. Black Box's sound is clean and brisk.

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