ANDREW VIOLETTE: Sonata for the Creation of the World – Violette, organ – Composers Concordance (3 CDs)

by | Jan 5, 2012 | Classical CD Reviews

ANDREW VIOLETTE: Sonata for the Creation of the World – Violette, organ – Composers Concordance Records COMCON6 (3 CDs) [Distr. by Naxos] *:
Born 1953, Andrew Violette is a New York-based composer and keyboardist who studied with Elliott Carter, Roger Sessions and Otto Luening. He has a deep affinity with Bach’s keyboard works, but his compositions are mostly far more avant-garde than his teachers. He has won many grants, fellowships and awards, and for several years was a Benedictine monk. He also is a computer programmer.
I have reviewed releases of Violette’s music in the past, such as this rave review of his work for two violins and keyboard. However, his new effort, spread over three CDs and costing close to $40, doesn’t catch my ear.  It was recorded on the four-manual pipe organ of a Baptist Temple in Brooklyn.  The Composers Concordance label is devoted to developing new concepts of what an album can be. I guess that certainly applies to this one, with its most impressive title. Their goal is to push the boundaries of sound and composition. That also applies to this effort.
Sorry to encore the negative Scelsi review that was just published, but to me, this music lacks form and structure, sounding something like someone checking out some new organs in a dealer’s store. I complained some that the two-violin work had such complexity that one wished the various elements were not happening all at the same time. This nearly three-hour piece is just the reverse: there seems to be very little going on at any one time. There is plenty of minimalism, and a wide variety of techniques, noisy sounds, silences, and so on. The excitement and unpredictable sounds of Violette’s piano works don’t seem to be present here; it almost sounds like a different composer. Violette says in his blog that, altho he feels guilty about it, he really doesn’t like the music of Elliott Carter, his former teacher. Well, after this triple CD…
TrackList: Ex Nihilo, Light, The Days, Dance of Joy, Thanksgiving
—John Sunier

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