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Eclectic Influences

Music by
Peter Blauvelt -
reviewed by

'There is some real passion in the sonata ...'

Monuments - Music of Peter Blauvelt. © 2004 Zimbel Records

Peter Blauvelt was born in France in 1956, grew up in Germany and studied at Harvard where he earned multiple degrees, including a doctorate in composition. His music is unusual. Textures are sparse. Melodic and rhythmic material is limited, at times almost to minimalism, and structures are straightforward. But in spite of the relative simplicity of means and an eclectic set of influences, he has his own unique sound.

The program begins with its strongest argument, Blauvelt's second symphony, completed in the year 2000. The work is subtitled 'Monuments' because of what the composer describes as its 'monumental' nature. The symphony begins with a short descending phrase that is followed by a two-note rise. These fragments reappear, often with the same rhythm, but in varied intervals. The opening belongs to the brass, and features the strong sonorities that seem to be one of the work's main concerns [listen -- track 1, 0:00-1:29]. The brass introduction is followed by a central section with additional melodic fragments and tonal surfaces. The movement concludes with a return to the music of the opening.

The second movement is based on two longer melodic phrases and uses a greater variety of sonorities and textures. It is interesting that here, and throughout the symphony, orchestral sections usually have the stage to themselves so that the piece sounds more like an unusual concerto for orchestra than a conventional symphony.

The third movement includes more diverse melodic material, a wider dynamic range, and greater use of mild dissonance. Its conclusion is a good summary of Blauvelt's symphonic style [listen -- track 3, 5:59-7:11].

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Copyright © 20 April 2006 Ron Bierman, San Diego, USA


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