Published on June 17, 2022 by James Manheim | Share this post!
“[T]here are so many ways to create classical music,” note the members of Third Coast Percussion, “and this album explores four very different approaches that all, in their way, eschew the paradigms of classical music.” Third Coast Percussion is a cracklingly good ensemble, but with Perspectives, the group has also created a program that can serve as an introduction to new modes of creation that fall under the large “classical” umbrella.
The opening Percussion Quartet of Danny Elfman, more famous for film music and for membership in the rock band Oingo Boingo, is the most conventional of the four works in that it is specified by the composer and realized by the ensemble, but it is a kaleidoscopic and attractive piece incorporating influences from West African balafon music, Indonesian gamelan, and more.
The rest of the pieces are more deeply collaborative. Third Coast’s reading of Philip Glass‘ Metamorphosis No. 1 is unique, fusing Glass‘ piano original with a version by the Brazilian traditional instrument ensemble Uakti. For the three-movement Rubix, Third Coast and the classical/hip-hop flute duo Flutronix actually collaborated on the composition of the work. The seven movements of Perspective were written as electronic music by Jlin (Jerrilynn Patton) and realized acoustically by Third Coast Percussion. Throughout, these pieces ask questions, somewhat in the manner of medieval music, about what the musical “text” really is, and each work is absorbing on its own merits. Glass is probably the most familiar of the creative artists here, but what is done with his work, resulting in three (or more) separate compositional layers, is perhaps the most innovative work on the program.
The engineering from the Chicago Recording Company is superb, and this album, appealing for anyone, could easily serve as material for discussions, educational or otherwise, of new directions in contemporary music and its relationship to popular and global traditions.