Nature Inspired Chamber Music
Juraj Kojš: Imagine
(Neuma Records / July 16, 2021)
Nature- and People-Inspired Chamber Music by Juraj Kojš
Traditional and contemporary modes of musical composition, and far out experimentation, all collide in imagine, by Slovakian-American (by way of Denmark) composer Juraj Kojš. Imagine is not only the name of the album, but the ethos of its works.
The first two pieces, Face Forward, Hawaii, and under the blanket of your lullabies, are composed of multiple short movements. The sounds of nature and human activity on a trip to Hawaii formed the inspiration for Face Forward.
Despite (or perhaps because of) its exuberant experimentation, the music is lively and engaging.
As Kojš puts it, “I wrote this music out of pure love for life, nature, people, and music itself. From the Hawaiian soundscape instrumentale to original poetry scores and Peter-and-the-Wolf-like storytelling, the music demanded visiting some far outposts of expression. Each piece exhibits its own multiple time structures, expanding spheres of pitch, and timbral ecosystems. Some music was scored with utmost precision, and some invited extensive decision-making from the performers. Thus, my collaborators were essential in creating this labyrinth of connected threads and pulses; a true living sonic organism: unique, sacred and real.”
Performers on the album include Eric Umble (clarinet), Adam Marks (piano), [Switch~ Ensemble], Splinter Reeds, and Kojš himself (electronics and spoken word).
Clarinetist Eric Umble is quoted in the liner notes. "Learning and recording Face Forward was an exploration embedded in the beauty, challenges, and physical limits of musical discovery. Juraj's eclectice clarinet writing floats and shimmers with ethereal lightness, sings soaring melodies as if it were a mezzo-soprano engaged in an art song, and employs percussive capabilities."
under the blankets.. is based on nine original poems along the theme of nature and earth, performed by [Switch~ Ensemble]. It takes the listener far away from the playful storytelling of Face Forward... to a ream of more volatile emotions and dramatic expanse. This is not a tale told to children, but an expression of nature's force and many moods.
For the musicians, it's an expressive tour. “The performance [of under the blanket of your lullabies] was one of those special moments that lingers in one’s memory long after the last note,” notes [Switch~ Ensemble] flutist Zach Sheets in a media release.
Dana Jessen, bassoonist of Splinter Reeds, describes the third piece on the CD. “…his whimsical Where You Are takes the listener through a programmatic tale that is neither fact nor fiction.”
The composer and others take listeners on a journey that combines spoken word and music.
Taken together, the album represents a journey into musical imagination unfettered by any particular style or form.