Proclaimed “Paul Simon’s genre-crossing chamber ensemble of choice” by Rolling Stone, the charismatic sextet yMusic has made a name for itself not just for headline-grabbing collaborations with artists like Simon, Bruce Hornsby, and Ben Folds, but also for its authoritative, engaging way with contemporary compositions by a wide range of creators. This week, the busy group – flutist Alex Sopp, clarinetist Hideaki Aomori, trumpeter CJ Camerieri, violinist and guitarist Rob Moose, violist Nadia Sirota, and cellist Gabriel Cabezas – is set to release its fourth album: Ecstatic Science, a collection of characterful, appealing pieces created by top-flight composers Gabriella Smith, Missy Mazzoli, Paul Wiancko, and Caroline Shaw.
Ecstatic Science arrives Feb. 14 on New Amsterdam Records, and can be pre-ordered already on Bandcamp and other major platforms. Can’t wait? You’re in luck: National Sawdust Log is pleased and privileged to provide advance access to an exclusive preview track, Gabriella Smith’s Maré—right here, right now.
Asked to describe Smith’s composition, Rob Moose offered the following thoughts via e-mail:
“Maré feels like a creation myth to me. It starts with incredibly delicate but emotional flutters of air, with gasps of grit, out of which pitch gradually emerges. The experience of playing the piece is an incredible balancing act of sonic exploration and rigorous focus. There are moments when members of the group are offset in difficult material by a single 16th note, and extended passages of virtuosic unison. The piece is extremely well paced, and no matter how sudden the shift of material, each section feels like a consequence of what precedes it. Hopefully, in our performance of the piece, the listener experiences the sounds of the piece – from the breath of the opening to the propulsive wave of the moto perpetuo section to the textured recapitulation – as a single wave they’ve had the good fortune to catch.”
Down the line, keep your eyes peeled for details of a Gabriella Smith composer portrait concert featuring yMusic cellist Gabriel Cabezas, coming up on May 2 as part of Bang on a Can’s extensive new Long Play festival. Smith’s music is also on the bill for a Tuesday Matinees program Cabezas will present on May 12 at Merkin Hall. And if you’re eager to hear more of Smith’s music while you’re waiting, check out Number Nine, included on the album Wax and Wire by chamber ensemble Latitude 49, issued on New Amsterdam just last week.