Paul Lansky's latest album brings together four virtuosic pieces, composed for widely varying ensembles. Four's Company for four guitars combines lyricism, rich harmony, and transparent textures. Angles for piano, violin and cello alternately dances and sings, and ends with a beautifully simple, sad song. Springs for four percussionists tears the roof off, and Color Codas for two pianos winds up the program with rollicking dance rhythms.
"Exhausted as we are by the pandemic, Paul Lansky's Angles (with excellent contributions by the Curtis Institute Guitar Quartet, Weiss Kaplan Stumpf Trio, So Percussion and the piano duo Quattro Mani) is like a spring breeze after the gray and dreary winter that finally seems to be drawing to a close. Phew!" - Pan360M.com, Canada
"There is a great deal to enjoy in Lansky's witty, engaging, characterful little tonal pieces, exploring instrumental techniques and expressive capabilities across the spectrum, with meticulous craftsmanship." - Records International
"Charming virtuosity and touching lyricism" - Gramophone
"A few years into the new century, Paul Lansky declared himself done with the brave new world of computer music in which he had forged his reputation from his perch on the faculty at Princeton. His focus on the music implicit in what he has called ‘worldnoise’ – sonorities from nature or mundane modern life or human speech that can be mined as compositional sources with the aid of digital technology – gave Lansky’s computer explorations a sense of fresh, delighted discovery not often associated with post-war avant-garde austerity.
But after more than three decades as a computer music pioneer (he even wrote his own software), Lansky made a dramatic change of tack and began composing exclusively for acoustic instruments. This release is Vol 17 in the extensive series from the Bridge label that has been documenting the fascinating career of this American composer, who was born in New York in 1944. All four works included on ‘Angles’ were written within the last five years yet reveal the rejuvenating effect of Lansky’s decision to write for live human performers.
Four’s Company for guitar quartet originated as a piece for the Curtis Institute class led by the eminent guitarist David Starobin (founder of Bridge Records and producer of this album). It expands the palette normally associated with the instrument while playfully engaging with the musical past. Lansky explains the title of his piano trio Angles, which combines charming virtuosity with a touching lyricism: ‘Each of the four movements takes a different textural or procedural “angle”.’
Both the single-movement percussion quartet Springs and the brightly tinted piano duo Color Codas (comprising three detachable movements) offer appealingly quirky glosses on post-minimalism, propelled by craft, humour and pleasure in textural contrasts. Lansky has noted that composing for percussion is reminiscent for him of writing computer music, and his use of pattern to play with expectation and surprise, evident throughout the album, suggests his flair for experimentation remains intact." - Gramophone, Thomas May