new CD! -- music of F. Brickle

Ab nou cor

Music of Frank Brickle

is the title of my most recent CD with Cygnus.

Released by Furious Artisans -->

On Facebook

Brickle & I go back over 20 years, and I've been a great fan throughout. I started out admiring the way he would have lovely, prolonged moments of diatonic (good old-fashioned tonal) harmony in his otherwise very interesting and dynamic high Princetonian ubermusic.  Over the intervening 20 years the diatonic stuff began to predominate, and yet he remained true to what he really valued in Western music. 

I will mention a few pieces here:

The title track, *Ab nou cor*, is for soprano and theorbo.  I bought my first theorbo just 2 years ago, and shortly thereafter I requested a theorbo song of Frank.  I did not know how wonderfully he succeeded until I began listening to the session takes.   And in this song there is a very audible bit of musical heaviness that I can ask you to try to hear:

The middle of the tiny song ends with the voice falling by a semitone;  at the end of the song (but not quite the very end), the same gesture is repeated, but with the voice falling by a whole step.   Both moves fall from the same note.

Now I noticed as I listened a few times that the 2nd move displaces the first.  A-G# in the middle of the song is answered by A-Gnatural at the end.   In music geek parlance we say the G natural displaces the G#.  (We are in the key of C, D or G, or F instead of A, E, B or F#.)  Each move ends a melismatic passage whose profile helps us hear the two passages as near-rhymes.   So, in short, here is a displacement taking place over quite a long time span. 

ALSO--The middle move to G# is also a move toward what is nearly a complete complement of the prevailing (diatonic) hexachord.  Complementation is a very high Princetonian affair than doesn't have to worry us too much.

On the Cygnus Ensemble website I created a guided audio tour of Brickle's *The Creation, a Towneley Mystery Play*.    It is here: 

Creation Guided Tour

I did so because the piece is too beautiful to be heavy, so I wanted to show why I think it's still heavy.  Again, displacements--scale degrees 2,3,4,5 are the flavor for day 3 of the Creation.  That flavor is prolonged through transpositions, very cleverly handled in what is arguably a 12-tone treatment.   This flavor is displaced by scale degrees 5,6,7,8, whose sound governs the next passage.   This collection is displaced, finally, by 4,5,6,7--all whole steps.  The semitones are gradually pushed out.   I could have used 12-tone terminology to describe the collections, and the way he develops the collections would justify that--[0235]--[0245]--[0246].

All very Stravinskian, but Brickle's handling of his junctures is so much more slick that Stravinsky, who avoided the issue by cultivating a love for hard shifts.