Byrne:Kozar:Duo (Corrine Byrne, soprano and Andy Kozar, trumpet) release their debut album, a collection of works that examine the myriad ways these two instruments can complement each other, fuse together, and create innovative hybrid timbres. Composers Alexandre Lunsqui, Beth Wiemann, Li Qi, Vid Smooke, Jeffrey Gavett, Christian Carey, Lei Liang, and Chris Cresswell draw from a range of text sources and craft acoustic and electroacoustic textures that establish a vanguard repertoire for this infrequently heard duo combination.
Alexandre Lunsqui contributes two works to the album, at the beginning and end of the program. Solis plays with a fragment of The Beatles’ iconic song “Here Comes the Sun,” alternating between pointed, angular deconstructions of the material and frozen long tones, as if the forward motion of the melodic idea is momentarily paused in time. In Two Patches, we hear the two voices in near rhythmic unison throughout, while Lunsqui uses timbre, dynamic envelope, articulation, and diction to create a meta wind instrument, capable of alternating which subtle instrumental characteristics step momentarily to the fore and which recede.
Beth Wiemann’s three movement work, It Floats Away From You, sets poetry by Marianne Moore. Kozar’s trumpet opens with a fanfare figure before assuming an accompanimental role to the linear, geometric figures in Byrne’s soprano line. “A Jelly-Fish” is a study in motivic economy, growing from the seed of an initial repeated ascending perfect fourth in the trumpet. Finally, “The Fish” takes a more parlando approach in the vocal line, fitting the narrative nature of the text.
Li Qi’s Lonely Grave establishes a meditative sonic environment framed by a fixed media part assembled from pre-recorded material from Kozar and Byrne. The live performers intone mournful phrases that encapsulate the nostalgic, heartbroken poetry.
In All Are Welcome Here, Vid Smooke uses the international phonetic alphabet as a template for variegated vocal timbres that can be integrated into an ensemble texture like instrumental articulations and shadings. Smooke translated the words in the title into several international languages before segmenting them into their component phonetics, sending a powerful signal about unity and equality.
Jeffrey Gavett’s Proof of Concept for Floating Child is an austere setting of texts by Gracie Leavitt that takes rhythmic inspiration from the music of metal band Meshuggah and avant vocalist/composer Meredith Monk. The work also affords Gavett a unique opportunity to explore the fascinating phenomenon of difference tones with two treble heavy instruments (producing resultant tones below the fundamentals). The outer movements alternate between cyclical rhythmic figures and closely spaced sustained intervals that grind against each other. The freer inner movement winds its way through modal, melismatic textures and dramatic wide interval leaps.
Christian Carey’s A Lady takes a more traditional approach to text setting, spreading coloristic word painting between the voice and instrument parts. Kozar inhabits multiple roles, sometimes shadowing Byrne’s lines with chromatic harmonization, and other times jumping out of the texture with characterful muted passagework. The piece ends with a brief series of microtonal sighing gestures.
Lei Liang’s Lake paints a luminous, disembodied nocturnal scene of mysterious tranquility. The trumpet and voice echo each other with swells, glissandi, and briefly organic moments of natural punctuated drama.
Chris Cresswell’s all that’s left is dirt and sky employs field recordings, ambient noise, and room tone as fixed media. The three movements each have their own ambient frame, but the relationship between the fixed media and live performers remains similarly reverential. all that’s left is dirt and sky unfolds as a love song to the environments that surround us, an immersive, inclusive embrace of a larger space within which music is created and heard.
The range of aesthetics and sonic possibilities in these works is only matched by Bryne:Kozar:Duo’s commanding performance. The art of duo performance always lies in the subtle intricacies of interaction magnifying the texture to create something that is more than the sum of its parts. Byrne:Kozar:Duo have cultivated that and more, navigating traditional and non-traditional performance techniques with comparable ease, placing a wide range of aesthetic possibilities on equal footing. For composers writing for soprano and trumpet, or similar combinations, this album can guide the way, providing a template for integration across multiple parameters as a powerful vehicle for expressive breadth and depth.
– Dan Lippel
released August 4, 2023
All works recorded at Oktaven Audio in Mt. Vernon, NY between 2018 and 2023
New Focus Recordings is an artist led collective label featuring releases in contemporary music of many stripes, as well as
new approaches to older repertoire. The label was founded by guitarist Daniel Lippel (who is the current director), composer engineer Ryan Streber, and composer Peter Gilbert in 2003-4, and features releases from many of new music's most active performers and composers....more