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Music for Hammers and Sticks

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Audio CD, February 22, 2005
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Songs from this album are available to purchase as MP3s. Click on "Buy MP3" or view the MP3 Album.

Song TitleArtist Time Price
listen  1. At the Abyss: I. ObserveTeresa McCollough 6:39$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen  2. At the Abyss: II. ReflectTeresa McCollough 4:24$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen  3. At the Abyss: III. ActTeresa McCollough 2:46$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen  4. Greed MachineTeresa McCollough 6:38$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen  5. BustedPeggy Benkeser 7:22$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen  6. PlayTeresa McCollough 6:38$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen  7. Heavy CirclesMichael Burritt 6:30$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen  8. Wu ji (version for piano and percussion)Teresa McCollough10:28Album Only

Product Details

  • Performer: Peggy Benkeser, Tom Burritt
  • Composer: Alex Shapiro, Alvin Singleton, Steve Mackey, Belinda Reynolds, Joseph Harchanko, et al.
  • Audio CD (February 22, 2005)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Innova Records
  • ASIN: B000A2GPC0
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #608,475 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Editorial Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

Format: Audio CD
"Music For Hammers and Sticks" is a varied and fascinating collection of seven pieces composed for piano and percussion by six composers. Several of the pieces were commissioned by the performers, making this a truly collaborative effort. This is very definitely "art" music or contemporary classical, and is much more challenging than some listeners will want to tackle. Those with an interest in experimental and more "serious" music should find much to enjoy with this recording. The three performers are Teresa McCollough on piano, Thomas Burritt on marimba, and Peggy Benkeser on various other percussion instruments (including police whistle!) - all artists with international reputations and performance resumes.

The CD opens with a suite of three pieces called "At the Abyss" by Alex Shapiro. The title refers to violent and threatening events around the world, and to the human species being too savage for its survival, placing us all at the edge of the "abyss" which is our future. "Observe," the first movement, is dark and more than a little frightening - pretty heavy stuff. The second movement, "Reflect," goes much more inward, as the title suggests. Quieter and slower, this piece clearly describes the painful thought process of dealing with such an enormous problem. "Act" is lively and more hopeful, with a strong sense of urgency and agitation. "Greed Machine" by Alvin Singleton is a "mysterious, Zen-like work for vibraphone and piano" that is full of contrasting motifs. Quiet, open passages are met with sudden bursts of sound; tranquility suddenly becomes frenzied - a fascinating piece! "Busted" by Steve Mackey is a percussion solo that utilizes the relaxed gesture of letting the mallets drop onto the drum heads and letting them bounce, contrasted with taut, tense attacks.
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Format: Audio CD
I'll admit to loving this sonic combination (piano/marimba/ percussion) since Terence Malick's "Badlands" first exposed me to Orff and Keetman's Schulwerk ("Streetsong" is effectively the film's theme). This new CD is a lush, evocative assortment of brilliantly played new compositions from well-known contemporary composers Alvin Singleton and Steve Mackey as well as a "Play"-ful breakthrough from Belinda Reynolds, a young composer I first noticed on the award-winning Common Sense CD "Shock of the Old" a few years back (well worth acquiring, too!) which uses musical "words" (C-A-B-B-A-G-E) as a base for some wonderful variations. The liner notes say it's the first part of a suite in progress for McCollough and pianist Kathleen Supove; I'm looking forward to the rest! Joseph Harchanko's "Heavy Circles" makes persuasive use of the lower range of Burritt's marimba, reminding me of Harry Partch's marimba eroica. Alex Shapiro's "At the Abyss" (Observe/Reflect/Act) moves from a discordant clash of war-like "observations" to a more zen-like set of meditations, then into more organized positive "actions." Singleton's "Greed Machine" is a study in contrasts and dynamics, and Mackey's "Busted" is a quirky 7/4 "dropped drumstick" motif that gets "busted" into a more circumspect 4/4 to the accompaniment of a police whistle! The broad diversity of styles represented here are united by the sonic signature of three fine performers in a too-rarely-heard combination of instruments. Very cleanly recorded, good liner notes, even a very clever cover design! This music is not something you're ever likely to hear on the radio (so you really need to buy it), but it's music you'll wish was heard a lot more often!
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Format: Audio CD
If i could reccomend just one new cd from this year, this would be it. Teresa McCollough plays music by several different new composers who all deserve your immediate attention. The music here is very enjoyable yet still provides enough challenges for the listener's ear to remain high-art. Yes, that's right...modern music has finally breached past the super-intellectual unfeeling detachedness and has now reached a point of true emotional impact. Try for starters the track by Belinda Reynolds. You will notice immediately a deep resonance and feeling that will stay with you long after the piece is finished. This is modern piano music that will surely reach classical status.
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