Sometimes the idea behind the music is just as interesting as the music itself…the music on this album “…explores the relationships between mechanical structures, organic beauty, and identity.” …Wallin Huff presents three unusual compositions that tackle some intriguing ideas and topics… Her music is quite complex and unusual and yet…very easy to absorb and appreciate. There’s a lot to take in here… Our favorite is the wonderfully moody and subtle “Gypsy Wanderer”…nothing short of breathtaking.
…the [Book of I] soundtrack composed by Sarah Wallin Huff stands out as both a powerful album, taking its listener on an emotional journey of beauty, despair, and hope, as well as a fascinating study of the composer’s visceral and intellectual connection to the source material. Featuring the stellar work of musicians Darrell Peries, Caleb Barnes, Cathy Alonzo, Jenna Ford, Lainey Elizabeth White, Brett Bird, Jonatas Mostacato, Ayla Draper, and [Wallin] Huff herself, the album is a stunning collection of gorgeous, orchestral selections comprised mostly of string instruments that are, at times, vividly haunting but always entirely engrossing. [Wallin] Huff, who previously released her own album, Soul of the Machine, earlier this year, clearly has a passion and a gift for sharing every ounce of her mind, body, and soul with the listener, as if providing a warm invitation for the listener to share the same in response.
Sarah’s music has a classy, understated sound, yet it is baroque and ornate, tipping the hat off to genius composers like Debussy, but also tipping the hat off experimental ideas and cinematic scores. Opening number “Intrepid” is a very dynamic composition with a unique color, almost echoing the work of modern composers like Yann Tiersen.
Weeping Willow, featuring “Michael Jung,” is one of our favorite tracks on this release. I love the romantic, dramatic high notes of the string section, as well as the timeless sound of the sparse piano melodies, almost flirting with shades of Tango, in the vein of Astor Piazzolla. A true masterpiece, with so many nuances. The album is also home to a suite extending over 3 tracks, “Leviathan of the Ancient Deep.” These songs also features ambient samples, as well as electronic elements and ornate percussions, making for a really diverse set of colors.
It is the third piece “The Oracle” that is the crème de la for me with its incredible depth and creative complexity. Dynamics take deep hold here with sudden bursts and calming moments. I really hear the room when flute and clarinet parts elevate along with the brilliant staccato keyboard hits. There are moments when time seems to fall apart and then strings back together in a wonderful interplay among the musicians.
Phillipy refers to himself in the third person, as if existing as a separate entity from his very self. I find the habit interesting, a sport of sorts, a way of explaining one’s actions from a distance. Phillipy knocks at the door…three times… “…three times, that’s all Phillipy can take.” He can tell when thoughts are tangled. He may speak in the third person but he is linear, he follows one thought with the next…
In creating this track, I wanted to really feature Phillipy’s autistic obsession with precision and the number 3 in the following ways:
the work features a solo trio (violin, viola, and cello) against the backdrop of the string orchestra.
the main sections “plunk” along with pedantic and clockwork rigor
at around 1:58 in the recording, the accompanying harmonies are outlined with ascending triadic arpeggios… (meanwhile, the harmonic progression is descending… pretty cool, right??) ^_^
at two points in the recording (1:58 and 3:48), the main theme is broken up by two variant themes that move the rhythm along in 3/4 as opposed to the methodical 4/4 we started in.
at around 2:58 in the recording, the solo trio plucks out the dissonant “knock three times” motif that is one of Phillipy’s compulsions — and they repeat this three-note motif…three times in a row…
And finally, toward the very end of the work (around 4:04), we hear the descending glide of the violins as Phillipy “goes to meet his mother”… and we finish with a stark, triplet rendition of the main theme from “I Know What Death Sounds Like“… a theme that tends to emerge everywhere you look in this Suite… 😉
Enjoy the recording of “Phillipy is Fragmented” below — featuring Darrell Peries on solo violin; Cathy Alonzo on solo viola; and Jenna Ford on solo cello.
This work for violin, guitar, and piano holds such a special place in my heart. <3
I originally finished writing it in 2006, my last year at Cal Poly Pomona. When I had first sketched out my ideas for “Pegasus” it was right after one of my Middle Eastern Music classes (I loved my ethnomusicology classes!!!). During this particular class we had gotten just a taste of certain Middle East drumming patterns and practices, one of them being the 10/8 pattern the piano part outlines at the beginning of this work. In the table below, imagine the lower row is a deeper pitched drum while the upper row is a higher pitched drum; it goes a little something like this:
Can you hear it? I’ve always thought it was pretty cool! :p
The thing is, once I’d written about the first minute-and-a-half, for only violin and piano at the time, I got stuck. At some point afterward I began taking composition lessons on the side of my normal studies with Dr. Peter Yates. Of course, being a phenomenal guitarist, he suggested I add a guitar part to the ensemble–I’m so glad I did. 🙂 Then he helped me think through the rest of the work–and we even debuted “Pegasus” on the Cal Poly stage one evening concert!
Since then, I didn’t get to record this work definitively until one of my fellow Cal Poly alums offered to record a few works for me in the studio. So, we got together more fellow alums–John-Paul Trotter on guitar and Mike Jung on piano–to have a giant reunion-style recording session! It was a blast!
“Pegasus” can be performed by an intermediate-advanced trio. Get the sheet music here! And stay tuned for our new work of next week…