World Premiere Mazzoli Recordings Now Available from BIS

World Premiere Mazzoli Recordings Now Available from BIS
BIS Record Album Cover
© Mats Bäcker

On March 3, 2023, BIS Records releases Dark with Excessive Bright, an album of music by Musical America's 2022 Composer of the Year and Grammy nominee Missy Mazzoli, featuring five world premiere recordings including four orchestral works by Mazzoli.

Norwegian violinist Peter Herresthal is the featured soloist in two new versions of the title composition: one for solo violin and string orchestra, recorded here with the Bergen Philharmonic under James Gaffigan, and another for solo violin and string quintet, with members of the Arctic Philharmonic, led by Tim Weiss. Also featured on this album are Sinfonia (for Orbiting Spheres), These Worlds in Us, and Orpheus Undone, all recorded here for the first time by The Arctic Philharmonic and Weiss. Completing the album is a new recording of Vespers for Violin, a 2019 Grammy nominee for Best Classical Composition, performed by Herresthal.

The title composition, originally a concerto for double bass and string orchestra, is a description of God’s robes taken from Milton’s Paradise Lost. For Mazzoli it also applies to “the ghostly, heart-rending sound of strings,” and indeed the piece contains nods to string techniques from multiple centuries past.

The composer describes Sinfonia (for Orbiting Spheres) as “music in the shape of a solar system, a collection of rococo loops that twist around each other within a larger orbit...It's a piece that churns and roils, that inches close to the listener only to leap away at breakneck speed, in the process transforming the ensemble turns into a makeshift hurdy-gurdy, flung recklessly into space." Sinfonia (for Orbiting Spheres) was commissioned by the Los Angeles Philharmonic and has since been performed world-wide including Mazzoli's BBC Proms debut in 2017 and by the New York Philharmonic in 2021.

These Worlds in Us is dedicated to Mazzoli’s father, who was a soldier in the Vietnam War, with a title taken from James Tate’s poem The Lost Pilot. Mazzoli notes that "a mournful line first played by the violins, collapses into glissandos almost immediately after it appears, giving the impression that the piece has been submerged under water or played on a turntable that is grinding to a halt. The melodicas (mouth organs) played by the percussionists in the opening and final gestures mimic the wheeze of a broken accordion, lending a particular vulnerability to the bookends of the work."

Orpheus Undone, commissioned and premiered by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra in 2022, was constructed with musical fragments from Mazzoli’s 2019 ballet, Orpheus Alive, which she has described as a “messed-up retelling of the Orpheus myth.” This kinetic, two-part orchestral work evokes Eurydice's death and Orpheus' decision to follow her into the underworld.

Vespers for Violin is a work for amplified violin and electronics, with Herresthal as soloist and Mazzoli performing the electronics. Mazzoli says the work “began as a reimagining of my composition Vespers for a New Dark Age. I sampled keyboards, vintage organs, voices and strings from that composition, drenched them in delay and distortion, and reworked them into a piece that can be performed by a soloist.” Vespers for Violin was composed for Monica Germino and Frank van der Weij, and premiered at the Sounds of Music Festival in Groningen in October, 2014.

For more information, please contact your local Wise Music Promotion Team. 

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