Hanging By a Thread

Matthew McCright
  1. …with the sound of a ripe fruit-falling… -:-- / -:--
  2. Your Hands, As They Are -:-- / -:--

New Music for Solo Piano performed by Matthew McCright

New music can be hard to define. It often has influences that stretch back into the past while forging a new path to the future. Hanging by a Thread traces this same line through the pieces included in this project. The beginning of the recording process for this album in 2019 felt like many others, but then a pandemic derailed everything: concerts that would have premiered these works, availability of recording spaces, and my own worries about what this all meant. At many points I was grasping for a lifeline, nervous that it would never be finished. But here we are, and my thoughts and emotions are uniquely tied to the pieces in a way I could not have imagined. The album opens with To Spill Oneself Away by Dorothy Hindman; an unsettling work that uses perpetual motion to achieve a remarkable feeling of being pulled in every direction, all at once- both forward and backward, up and down. A more literal effect is used in … with the sound of a ripe fruit-falling … by Alican Çamci; the metaphorical stem is severed with low bass notes punctuating the fruit hitting the earth, heard against crystalline gestures of the highest reaches of the keyboard. The cycle of natural growth, ripening, and resolution in this miniature allows a bigger-picture view of life with its unexpected twists. Andrea Mazzareillo’s As Far As You Can Stretch a Web pulls the composer back into his childhood observations of his father’s piano playing combined with his own mixed relationship to the instrument and then blunted by the loss of the ability to play in his startingly poignant and meditative, Your Hands, As They Are (appearing later in the album). The soft, gossamer sounds of Intermezzo by Takuma Itoh find the listener in a state of calm that feels as if the piece has no beginning and no end. A similar vibe is found in Echoes by Kirsten Soriano Broberg examining the subtle sounds of overtones as pitches fall away in a delicate spectrum that allows the piano’s resonance to become the piece. The final work of the album is Paul Dresher’s sweeping Blue Diamonds with multiple sections that twist and shift the listener with intricate passagework, rhythmic play, shifting meters, and recurring themes much like refracted light on the precious gemstone, at times clear and often dazzling, until the heroic ending is reached. While far-reaching, the connections among the works gather the various threads to create an impression that remains with the listener long after the final notes are heard.

Album Tracks:

To Spill Oneself Away by Dorothy Hindman

…with the sound of a ripe fruit-falling…by Alican Camci (select track above)

As Far As You Can Stretch a Web by Andrea Mazzariello

Intermezzo by Takuma Itoh

Echoes by Kirsten Broberg

Your Hands, As They Are by Andrea Mazzariello (select track above)

Blue Diamonds by Paul Dresher