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Rob Levit — Silence
(Symbol System , 1999, CD)
by David Ashcraft, Published 1999-11-01
This is a CD that is truly different. Rob Levit, winner of the 1998 Julius Hemphill Composition Award, is the master of short pieces. In fact, Silence has 52 (believe it or not) pieces comprising the 50 minute disc. Do the math and the average Levit composition is under 60 seconds long (shorter than a TV commercial!). As such they tend to be vignettes, some of which sound complete and others that are more like idea fragments. The instrumentation is fairly sparse but somewhat varied with acoustic guitar augmented at times by electronics, flute, clarinet, oboe, marimba, and percussion. There is extensive use of dissonance, with many of the pieces in an experimental or free form mode. Overall I suppose one would label this in a “modern classical” genre although the music does defy easy categorization. It qualifies as a challenging listening experience since the pieces aren’t really tied together in any kind of logical fashion. Adventurous listeners will find this to be an intriguing release as Levit crams a boatload of ideas and themes into this CD. Perhaps this is the ultimate disc for those with a short attention span!
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