Friday, April 18, 2014

CCC 100 - Andrew Schultz

Australian composer Andrew Schultz is this week's featured Consonant Classical Challenge entry. Schultz has written an impressive body of work, including three symphonies, a violin concerto, and several other orchestral works. His chamber music is frequently performed, as are some of his choral compositions.

Schultz is well aware of the cultural power the language of tonal music has, and uses it to great effect. Although his music doesn't use simple chords moving in standard progressions, it has both a tonal foundation and forward motion. And that, I think, is due to his understanding of how music is heard (especially outside of academia).

After Nina is an excellent example of Schultz's composition principles. The work is based on Nina Simone's "Strange Fruit." Although he deconstructs the song, the pieces aren't just scattered about. They're reorganized in a way that creates a new work with a structure and internal logic that can be easily followed by the listener.

Circle Ground Septet No. 2 rocks back and forth on a simple harmonic foundation (the ground). But over top of that foundation, all kinds of wonderful things occur, including some pretty innovative melodic writing.

One Sound, a quintet for flute and strings, shows how imaginatively Schultz uses the basic building blocks of tonal music. The harmonies are constructed of intervals that -- depending on whether they're thirds or seconds -- can have a simple, modal sound or a denser, more atonal character, without being exactly either.

In Ring Out, Wild Bells, Schultz takes a quite simple melodic idea and uses it to create a more elaborate sound structure for chorus.

In this excerpt from his Violin Concerto, the solo violin floats over elegiac and expansive orchestral music. Schultz's careful attention to detail with the orchestration creates a wonderfully unique atmosphere.

Andrew Shultz writes music that embraces rather than turn its back on musical traditions. But I suspect the blue-hairs won't hear the connection. For late middle-aged (and younger) audiences, though, Shultz's music should make perfect sense, and fit in quite well with a program of standard classical works. I wish more of his music was performed here in the States.

Recommended Recordings

Andrew Schultz - Orchestral Works

Andrew Schultz - Suspended Preludes

Andrew Schultz - Chamber Music

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