Classical CD Reviews
ANDREW VIOLETTE: Rave – Gregor Kitzas, electric violin; Curtis Macomber, violin; Andrew Violette, keyboards & producer – Innova
Published on May 22, 2007
Rave was the next work to be composed by Andrew Violette following his Sonata 7 which we reviewed a few years back. It is an amazingly complex work consisting of 23 movements ranging from :42 to 12 minutes. It comes as an Enhanced CD, but instead of a video portion it has only a pdf file running 23 pages with a detailed analysis of each movement. Violette is interested in the perception of time in music, and has outdone himself in pouring every type of musical sound into Rave, adding more and more complexity as the work progresses. He deliberately provides too much happening at once soundwise to take it all in. Messiaen, minimalism, maximalism and East Indian music are just some of the threads to be heard in the work. In today’s youth culture a Rave is a dance party that lasts all night, using synthesized electronic music, and Violette tries to be a sort of New Music DJ in his Rave.
About halfway thru the work there is a loud crack, which he describes as a murder committed on the dance floor – which radically changes the tenor of the remainder of the work. The murder is really 9/11/01. A sextet of instruments are involved in Rave: two pianos, two Yamaha ES90 synthesizers, and two violins – one acoustic and one electric. The music is characterized by wide-ranging eclecticism and a very individualistic structural approach using a number of different organizing criteria: One is the composer’s own Colorfield approach – broad areas of a single texture that changes only gradually over time. Another is the use of 13 core gestural elements and their variants, which are taken thru constant permutations. These fit into the Fibonacci number sequence: 13, 21, 34 and 55. The movements also carry their individual titles which tell some more graspable about the music therein; titles such as Burlesque, Tarantella, Waltz with Ostinato, Martial Music, Big Chords, etc. The whole work starts out with a strong diatonic tonal feel, but gradually becomes more chromatic in texture until its big concluding coda – which reverts to a grand 19th century totally diatonic peroration.
There are so many things going on at once in Rave – especially in the second half – that it begins to take on a psychedelic quality. This may either fascinate some listeners or send them quickly to the Eject button. One of the movements sounds like dozens of cell phones all going off at once – a nightmare in a concert or church environment. The recording seems to be as high quality as possible within the limitations of 44.1K PCM, but I was hankering for not only higher-resolution audio but more importantly the spatial separation which surround or binaural could impart to this astoundingly layered explosion of complexities!
Here’s the TrackList of Rave:
Intro, Messiaen and the Sitar; Chorale in Tremolos; The Russian Section; Movie Horns and Trill Soup; The Door to Hellfire; Heterophony; Hollywood; The Lost Puccini Aria; Contradance; Chaconne, Minimal Aria with Didgeridoo; Web of Colors; Colorfield in 22 Panels; Beethoven’s Fifth, Big Chords, Chordal Cascade; Tarantella; Contradance, Study on Country Dance, Martial Music; Double Stops; Study After Bach; A Burlesque and a Tarantella; A Waltz With Ostinato; Dueling Chopin Etudes; Russian Recap, The Long Descent; Country/Martial Music, Coda.
– John Sunier