Anthony Di Sanza

On the Nature of...

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Percussionist Anthony di Sanza's CD On the Nature of… features three substantial solos works and a concerto. The first three pieces date from the 1980s and are established as classics the modern percussion repertoire. Toshi Ichiyanagi's Portrait of Forest and Jacob Druckman's Reflections on the Nature of Water, both scored for marimba solo, are sophisticated and imaginative evocations of the natural world. Per Nørgärd's I Ching, in contrast, is scored for what di Sanza describes as "a stage full of percussion instruments drawn from various world cultures." It's a piece that's overwhelming in the impact it makes both in the economy of its gestures and material (movement three, "The Gentle, the Penetrating") and in its dazzling timbral richness and variety (movement one, "Thunder Repeated: The Image of Shock," which sounds like it would take a stage full of percussionists to create such gigantic torrents of sound). It's a fully satisfying work; the sense of purposefulness and musical integrity that it manages to convey in spite of the enormous range of it stylistic and instrumental diversity is a testimony to Nørgärd's exceptional gift and skill.

The challenge di Sanza faced in writing his Concerto for Darabukka and Percussion Quartet was creating a piece in which a non-melodic instrument could hold its own as the featured solo using only rhythm and timbral shading, and he's fully successful in pulling it off. He does expand the variety of timbres by switching between several darabukkas for the solo part. It's a wonderfully attractive piece -- colorful, inventive, energetic, and consistently engaging -- that draws on the music of the Near and Middle Eastern cultures of its featured solo instrument without sounding derivative. In all of these works di Sanza dazzles not only in the assurance and polish of his playing but in his tremendous vitality and spontaneity. The sound of the Equilibrium CD is vividly detailed, balanced and entirely clean.

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