Franklin Cox

The New Cello, Vol. 1

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So often regarded as the soulful, lugubriously expressive member of the string family, the cello gets a whole new character in this 2009 Centaur album entitled New Cello, Vol. 1: American Composers. Cellist and composer Franklin Cox assembles a set of eight compositions -- two by Cox himself -- in which the desire for a beautiful, sonorous sound and what most listeners would consider "good intonation" are intentionally tossed out the window. As described in his detailed liner notes, Cox's program explores an entirely different side of the cello's personality and its nearly endlessly varied sound possibilities, extended techniques, and massive range. The program also explores tuning and intonation systems well beyond what most listeners of Western music are accustomed to in equal temperament. Cox visits expressive intonation, extended just intonation, and various degrees of microtonality, including his own use of 1/12th tones. Cox's passion for this project is clear not only in his writing, but in his playing as well. The uncharacteristic tuning and elaborate techniques will doubtless take some getting used to for casual listeners, but there's a great deal to learn here, including the true potential of the cello beyond its usual role. Centaur's sound makes the cello seem quite distant.

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