Music by Jason Eckardt -
'... brilliantly performed ...'
This Mode CD release is the first full disc devoted to the music of American composer Jason Eckardt (born 1971). It is brilliantly performed by the intrepid New York City based Ensemble 21, which was founded by Eckardt and his wife, pianist Marilyn Nonken.
Eckardt was educated at Columbia University and the Berklee College of Music, and has taught at Columbia, the University of Illinois, Rutgers University, and Northwestern University. He began his musical life as a rock and jazz guitarist before changing to focus on composition. Despite these roots, Eckardt's music does not display obvious allusions to rock and jazz music, other than perhaps in the shifting currents of energy that his pieces contain.
From a look at one of his printed scores, one might immediately place Eckardt into the so-called 'new complexity' movement (generally thought of as typified by composers such as Michael Finnissy and Brian Ferneyhough). There certainly is a connection in Eckardt's work to the 'new complexity' of Finnissy in particular. There is also a strong connection to the American modernist tradition represented by Milton Babbitt, Elliott Carter, and others. However, Eckardt's musical voice is unequivocally his own. His work would not be confused with that of anybody else.
In Eckardt's case, although his scores are filled with the gestures and notation of many hyper-modernist pieces, the sonic result is one of great clarity. This is perhaps due in some extent to the chamber-size forces involved in all of these pieces. In fact, Eckardt's catalogue lists only one orchestral work (a percussion concerto for Evelyn Glennie). All the rest of his music is for solo chamber combinations of various sizes, and it is perhaps in this medium that Eckardt's musical ideas find their most immediate aural impact.
All of these works thus are incredibly virtuosic in their demands on the performers, and it is a testament to the abilities of the wonderful musicians involved that the pieces are projected so naturally. Eckardt's music is intensely passionate in its gestures and ideas, and this is indeed vividly conveyed.
Copyright © 13 August 2005
Carson P Cooman, Pittsburgh USA