A Colorful, Auspiciously Acerbic Debut Collection From Composer Gilbert Galindo
Not only is composer Gilbert Galindo’s debut album Terrestrial Journeys – streaming at Bandcamp – full of color and humor and vivid, edgy ideas: he’s also assembled a fantastic crew of New York new-classical types to play these compositions.
The opening track is Spunk, a lively, coyly dancing tune with tricky tempo changes, bursting staccato, understatedly clever counterpoint and a deft use of space. Dan Lippel‘s guitar adds a tantalizingly biting, gritty, slightly revertoned edge behind Clara Kim’s sailing violin solo. Jeff Hudgins’ crystalline alto sax cedes to a similarly all-too-brief solo from bassist Gregory Chudzik; the long quote as they reach the end is too good to give away.
Kathleen Supové‘s portentous Day in the Life piano chord opens Echoes of the Divine, Clare Monfredo’s distantly Indian-tinged cello joined by high harmonics from violinists Giancarlo Latta and violist Maren Rothfritz. Galindo packs a lot into almost fifteen minutes. Delicately stalactite droplets and the occasional raptured chord from the piano fill out the layered loops and slow, tectonically shifting textures from the strings, for a striking yet hypnotic contrast. Stately swells lead to a fleeting, warmly Romantic hint of a coda from Supové, bittersweet viola over sparse stillness, a moment of agitation and allusions to Messiaen before the composer reaches to complete the circle.
A brief, colorful, suspensefully pulsing overture, Let’s Begin features the Argus Quartet: all of the aforementioned string players minus Chudzik. Latta plays Though Your Footsteps Were Unseen, a brief diptych for solo violin, taking his time with simple, drifting chords and keening atmospheric harmonics when not pouncing through some devious poltergeist riffs.
Virtuoso clarinetist Thomas Piercy takes a rare turn on bass model in Lost in the Caves, a light touch of electronic reverb enhancing his tightly clustering, energetic, wary phrasing, with an animatedly conversational passage but also moments of surprising calm.
The trio of Kim, Monfredo and Supové tackle Imagined Passions, the three voices disengaged sufficiently to fuel a moody, wary, sometimes wispy disconnect with strong Messiaen echoes. This kind of passion could become deadly in a split second. Supové’s balance of lefthand murk beneath an icy stroll is striking, through a frequently disquieting gallery walk that becomes more of a shivery funhouse mirror.
She plays solo in My Soul Waits: this one’s full of some serious suspense and otherworldly, bell-like upper register along with anxious concentric riffs. Iktus Percussion take over for the concluding triptych, Not the Light, But the Fire That Burns, Supové joined by Chris Graham and Sean Statser. That coldly starry piano glitters in tandem with similarly eerie bells and bowed vibraphone throughout part one, The Glow That Flickers. Understatedly savage gongs and lows figure in part two, Deep Blue. The conclusion, Burn! has broodingly romping low-register in ratcheting syncopation from Supové, whiplash metallic drums amid menacingly echoey ambience. This is an unusual and often unselfconsciously profound collection of new classical music: let’s hope we hear more from Galindo sooner than later.
Among the artists on the record, the Argus Quartet have are ahead of everyone else in terms of upcoming concerts. Their next one is with pianist Steven Beck, playing play the New York premieres of Michael Shapiro’s Yiddish Quartet and Piano Quintet at Bargemusic on April 30 at 8 PM. Cover is steep, $35, but word on the street is that Shapiro’s new material is worth it.