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Saturday, July 6, 2013

Jordan Tetewsky: The Orchestra is the Violin

The violin is a versatile instrument, every composer knows this. We are taught very early on that the range, variance in expression, and overall tonal capabilities are fairly unmatched in the string family and especially the violin. Even so, from Mozart to Berlioz we would think that everything which can be done on the violin has been done.  So, imagine my surprise when stumbling upon the composer and performer; Jordan Tetewsky through his YouTube channel breathing freshness into the instrument that I frankly didn’t know was possible.




Tetewsky certainly embraces technology; the looping pedal seems to be a frequent tool in his works. We have seen this kind of innovation before, mostly from guitarists who perform solo but desire a more ensemble feel to their songs. With the violin, however; the looping and reverb effects take on a somewhat otherworldly quality, very futuristic, yet very approachable at the same time. It’s ethereal and often soundtrack-like in the best possible way. The rhythms generated from pizzicato breaths pulse underneath lush melodies  which always tend to stay interesting.




I suppose what is most interesting to me about Jordan Tetewsky’s pieces is that he manages to never fall into the boundaries of triteness in his works.  Electric violin has taken a little bit of a beating in recent years with the popularity of acts such as “Celtic Women” who tend to cater to the 40+ crowd. Tetewsky, on the other hand appears right in line with the best that contemporary/intelligent art has to offer.

More of Jordan Tetewsky’s pieces can be found through his YouTube channel here

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Andrea Vivanet: Doing Justice to Ravel

As a young person, like many young aspiring composers, I studied piano. I never took the instrument as seriously as I should have – I really only viewed it as a means to an end. Learn harmony, learn to read music, learn counterpoint, and learn to accompany – these were my goals. I have, however; always marveled at those players who did obviously take the instrument seriously, and play with a command, dedication, and talent capable of bringing out every possible nuance from the keyboard. And when I find them I just have to share it with you.


While looking around a musician message board, I stumbled across one such performer; Andrea Vivanet, a pianist living and working in Italy. Mr. Vivanet had posted a video of Ravel’s “Le Tombeau de Couperin,” a challenging, sophisticated, yet very accessible work; of course, the same could be said of the performance. Like so many Ravel pieces, the piano has an extreme orchestral quality which the performer is charged with bringing out. Andrea Vivanet meets that challenge with an ease that seems so fluid it almost makes the listener forget how difficult the piece really is.



Andrea Vivanet also has many MP3s available for free through his website and through his SoundCloud account. All are well recorded and equally well played. It will be interesting to see in the future if there is an album forthcoming, and if there is it will be posted here to remind you to buy it!

To read more about Mr. Vivanet, please visit his website at: www.andreavivanet.com


Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Meena Batish, Lishkare: Punjabi Songs

I have always been an admirer of versatility in artists. I suppose this has become apparent from so many of my blogs/postings, but I do feel the need to reiterate it from time to time. When an artist is able to run the gambit between popular, spiritual, and pedagogical styles it tends to catch my ear. This is the opinion I've formed regarding the second available album of Meena Batish, titled “Lishkare: Punjabi Songs,” as the work is quite a departure from her 2007 album “My Favorite Bhajans.” 



“Lishkare” is upbeat with several pop-sensitive elements. The electronic drums and guitar strumming gives a mixed flavor to Meena’s distinctively North Indian vocal style. In tracks such as “Sajana” (No. 3) there are times when the swung rhythms, so common in music from Punjab, sound almost reggae-ish. Of course, everything is masterfully tied together through the virtuosic sitar playing of Ashwin Batish (the arranger and producer of the album).

The album is full of fun and upbeat numbers. The first track “Yes, No, Alright” is a lighthearted and charmingly uplifting take on contemporary North Indian popular music. It is jazzy with fast brass and a vocal melody that sticks with you after the song is finished. The quirky insertions of a man’s voice saying “yes,” “no,” and “alright” might put some off – but it was something I really enjoyed. As an English speaker, it seemed to invite me in to be part of the dialogue of the song, even though I don’t speak the language.

Other gems exist on “Lishkare.” Track number 4 “Mavan Te Dhiyan Di Dosti” has one of the most lovely and simple arrangements of the album. The slow, but very present drums allow Meena’s voice to shine and do what it does best (deliver stunning melodies). While track number 8 “Pani Nalon Ho Gae Patale” features lush and sweeping piano that doesn't detract one bit from the singing.



“Lishkare” is an extremely well thought out album both in terms of composition and diversity. It is vitally alive in the energy that comes through the recording and enjoyable from the first song to the last. Though I can’t say it is an album for everyone, I can say that everyone should give it a chance (maybe 2 or 3 chances) to take you in. For my part, I can honestly say that have enjoyed my copy thoroughly.

"Likshare" is available on iTunes and Amazon.com