"The Robin Cox Ensemble may very well be predisposed to monopolize the esoteric niche of string and percussion quartets, and judging from their new CD Level 7, why shouldn't they? Owing in part to a nicely taut performance by the ensemble, Joseph Koykkar's Music for Mallets and Strings showcases the surprisingly homogeneous qualities shared by the disparate instrumentation. In the case of Evan Ziporyn's What She Saw There, the solo cello often cuts against the ostinatos established by the marimbas, creating a congenial tension. The most unique handling of the group appears in Quickly Casual, a spunky piece full of odd motifs and evocative instrumental color. Pieces by the ensemble's founder and violinist-yes, Robin Cox-as well as Leslie Hogan complete this enjoyable collection."Â -Randy Nordschow, NewMusicBox
"The Robin Cox Ensemble is a unique new music group that combines violin, cello, percussion, and live electronics to create vivid performances of new music. ...including on this--the group's second CD--the marvelous Evan Ziporyn."Â -Sequenza 21 Magazine's "Editor's Pick"
TRACKS: (with notes from the composers)
1. Escher by Robin Cox Â 5:00
...imagine Thelonious Monk walking around in one of the "Relativity" series of artworks by MC Escher.
2. What She Saw There by Evan ZiporynÂ Â 14:21
...I wrote it in a bamboo hut in Bali on a miniature Casio keyboard. I was there on a Fulbright, and I was thinking quite a lot about cross-cultural influences, about this strange phenomenon of being able to listen to and enjoy music that one didn't necessarily understand. I was thinking story-songs in unknown languages, where one can feel the drama and the course of the narrative, even if one doesn't know what's going on. I also was interested in finding links between the musical languages I did understand, so the melodies straddle a line between jazz, Balinese music, classical rhetoric, etc.
3. For Mallets and Strings by Joseph KoykkarÂ Â 3:32
...an interplay between sections featuring unison tutti passages and those of a more contrapuntal nature. A rhythmically driving mode of performance is demanded of the players. The composition is structured on the movement I to IV in relation to the tonic and subdominant notes of the scale, not by utilizing any traditional type of functional harmony or key modulation, but by providing a focus for pitch direction akin to a type of 'new tonality' which I have been exploring in my music over the past twenty years.
4. Thirty-Five by Leslie HoganÂ Â 5:00
...inspired by driving the stretch of Interstate 35 between Dallas and Austin, Texas, on a bright, hot, and windy July day in 1999. The drive was pretty much like watching paint dry; the composer started to think about music for cruising.
5. Quickly Casual by HyeKyung LeeÂ Â 9:18
...designed to get back to, or out of, the notes C and D flat, this was my attempt to arrive at a more oriental sound (using C, D flat and G, F sharp, instead of a pentatonic scale). This music reflects an interest in combining colors of both my western education and of my Korean heritage within a personal style and sound.
6. Volt by Robin CoxÂ Â 5:00
...in an ensemble consisting of two very different instruments types, it is easy to find one's writing engaged in the duality of long, sweeping string gestures against the quick attack and beat oriented nature of percussion. Volt is a conscious attempt to avoid that "role-playing" by presenting violin and cello with distinctly percussive tasks. I have also engaged in my increasingly common practice of, both in harmony and rhythm, juxtapositions between the highly consonant and highly dissonant.
Check out the artist's website:
2. What She Saw There
3. Music for Mallets and Strings
5. Quickly Casual