Matteo Liberatore – Solos
Guitarist Matteo Liberatore explores a range of abstract sonic effects drawn from an acoustic guitar on his album Solos. Unconventional tools and methods pluck a variety of jolts and scratches, arpeggio sequences, and melodic and chordal motifs from his chosen workhorse. The packaging supplies precious little information about the featured techniques (they include metal springs, a bass bow, and alligator clips) but that’s just as well, as this is the kind of release best listened to with no expectations and a minimum of intellectualizing. It’s the record of one man’s focused attack on the most common of instruments using uncommon methods.
Little on here will soothe the savage breast. But there’s a lot to make you prick up your ears if you approach it with an open mind. The eerily haunting “Alberto” and the ghostly wails and pointed accents of “Untitled #9,” whose title expressly evokes abstract visual art, contrast with the smoky melodies of the almost-conventional “Causeway.” The dizzying “Ubiquitous,” funny and just short of annoying, and the teeth-chattering tremolos of “Agnes” and “MMXVI” mingle with the breathy hisses of “Fisherman” and the deconstructed Spanish flavors of “Coral.”
Eric Stokes – The Lyrical Pickpocket
The Lyrical Pickpocket, a career-spanning sample of music from composer Eric Stokes (1930-1999), provides a more joyful and traditional musical experience. The influence of Charles Ives is very evident and Stokes’ voice rings with 20th-century Americana, but Rimsky-Korsakov and even Stravinsky come to mind as often as Bernstein and Copland do.
These new recordings solicited and curated by oboist Merilee Klemp reveal several of Stokes’ many sides. The jokey third movement of the “Woodwind Quintet No. 2” leads into a dark, thoughtful finale. Soprano Maria Jette sings the five-part “Song Circle” boldly, the music contemplative but spiced with drama and humor. The beautifully produced album boasts exquisite performances from Minnesota-area instrumentalists: Klemp herself, the Riverside Winds, flautist Trudy Anderson, harpist Kathy Kienzle, pianist Sonja Thompson, and on “Give & Take” – an emotional little piece for oboe and cello – cellist Jim Jacobson.
A sense of calm defines the “Four Songs” scored for soprano and oboe. Even in this work from early 1960s Stokes seems to have been an artist in full command of his muse. By contrast, the title suite from 1990, inspired by and incorporating old American folk songs, romps through varied terrain: playful, folksy, dissonant, tuneful, hymn-like.
All artists are “lyrical pickpockets,” picking bits they like and rearrange them into something new. Eric Stokes was a master picker, and Klemp has done an invaluable service by picking and presenting his music so well.