The Pieces That Fall to Earth Christopher Cerrone
THE PIECES THAT FALL TO EARTH
The Pieces That Fall to Earth is the long-awaited CD from Brooklyn-based composer Christopher Cerrone and Wild Up, LA’s leading new music ensemble. NPR Music called Cerrone “One of our most versatile composers under 40.”
Conducted by Wild Up’s Artistic Director, Christopher Rountree, The Pieces That Fall to Earth comprises three vocal cycles: the title work, with soprano Lindsay Kesselman; The Naomi Songs, sung by vocalist Theo Bleckmann; and The Branch Will Not Break, with a chorus of eight singers. The album was recorded and produced by Nick Tipp.
More than three years in the making, The Pieces That Fall to Earth grew out of Cerrone’s musical friendships with these exceptional Los Angeles- and New York-based artists. Fittingly, the album’s release will be celebrated with concerts in both cities.
Like Invisible Cities, The Pieces That Fall to Earth highlights Cerrone’s luminous orchestrations, the structural clarity of his compositions, and his much-admired gift for setting texts – in this case by American poets Kay Ryan (The Pieces That Fall to Earth), Bill Knott (The Naomi Songs), and James Wright (The Branch Will Not Break). Notes Cerrone, “These authors profoundly inspired the music that I wrote. I feel that by setting their disparate languages, I have composed three works that are kindred spirits, but whose differences are as profound as their similarities.”
Yet there are unmistakable connections. Songs in two different cycles share an identical melody (the fourth movement of The Pieces That Fall to Earth and the second of The Naomi Songs). The two outer cycles have the same structure: seven movements that culminate in a last-movement key change and climax. Distinct as they are, these works form a powerful whole when heard together, especially in the authoritative performances by Bleckmann, Kesselman, Rountree and company, intimately captured in Tipp’s production.
Most striking of all may be Cerrone’s ability to conjure elusive emotional states. Observes Andres, “Christopher Cerrone writes music for human voices which wander and persist through landscapes of cold instrumental sounds. Throughout his vocal works, musical metaphors reinforce poetry of loneliness, alienation, and nostalgia.
“To achieve this, Cerrone re-orders the typical hierarchy of the classical orchestra. Percussive, quickly-decaying sounds now occupy the core: a pointillistic battery of piano, harp, vibraphone, marimba, and glockenspiel. Stringed instruments are demoted from their central melodic role and leeched of their typical colors, instead concentrating on drones, often using harmonics or alternate bowing techniques. Wind instruments, too, often contribute only un-pitched air, their affect ranging from a subtle atmospheric pressure change to a chuffing engine driving an unstoppable rhythmic machine.
“Though the severe, crystalline soundscapes of Feldman and Berio are a clear point of reference throughout, it’s the vocal centricity and generosity of bel canto opera that comes through most strongly. Cerrone’s soloists sing in full sentences, set in strophic, melodically memorable lines. He selects poetry not to deconstruct, but to heighten and concentrate it.”
The Pieces That Fall to Earth: The Pieces that Fell to Earth
The Pieces That Fall to Earth: Hope
The Pieces That Fall to Earth: That Will to Divest
The Pieces That Fall to Earth: Swept Up Whole
The Pieces That Fall to Earth: Sharks' Teeth
The Pieces That Fall to Earth: Insult
The Pieces That Fall to Earth: The Woman Who Wrote Too Much
The Naomi Songs: The Beach
The Naomi Songs: I Left
The Naomi Songs: When Our Hands Are Alone
The Naomi Songs: What Language Will Be Safe?
The Branch Will Not Break: Lying in a Hammock at William Duffy's Farm in Pine Island, Minnesota
The Branch Will Not Break: Two Horses Playing in the Orchard
The Branch Will Not Break: Two Hangovers, Number One
The Branch Will Not Break: From a Bus Window in Central Ohio, Just Before a Thunder Shower
The Branch Will Not Break: Having Lost My Sons, I Confront the Wreckage of the Moon, Christmas 1960
The Branch Will Not Break: Two Hangovers, Number Two
The Branch Will Not Break: A Blessing