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Orchestral World Music from Evan Ziporyn: Frog's Eye


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1. Frog's Eye
2. The Ornate Zither and the Nomad Flute
3. War Chant
4. Drill

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Amazon.com: 2 reviews
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
Engaging new music for orchestra Dec 21 2006
By Jeff Abell - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Evan Ziporyn is gradually building an impressive discography of his strong and subtle compositions. These range from conventional Western ensembles (like the piano trio) to Balinese gamelan with electric guitar. But with the exception of the beautiful Ngaben (a memorial to those killed in the bombing of a nightclub on Bali in 2002), none of Ziporyn's orchestral works has been available until now. The four works on this new Cantatoupe CD are therefore most welcome, and each is further evidence that Ziporyn is one of America's strongest and most original compositional voices. I liked the playfulness of Frog's Eye, and the energy of Drill (a clarinet concerto with the composer as soloist), but War Chant may be the most compelling work here. There are also two songs with orchestra, and if I have any quibble with this CD, it's that Ziporyn treats the voice as another instrumental line...but then, so did Stravinsky and Copland. Another must for everyone interested in new music!
1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Music that is stuck in a ditch with the wheels spinning Nov. 16 2012
By Son of Some Guy - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Evan Ziporyn is making a name for himself, maybe because he is unconventional in product presentation, or that he incorporates exotic, unconventional instruments into his compositions. This disc contains 4 pieces, with 2 of them, in my opinion, presented as gimmicks. The cool, new hip title of "Frog's Eye" catches the human eye, because it is unusual and amusing. Then listening to the piece, you can say "Yeah, I definitely hear a frog". The problem is that the music does not develop; it presents the gimmick melody, and then just adds instruments and accompanying lines with each repeat. The music goes nowhere, like a vehicle in a ditch with the wheels spinning. After a couple of hearings, even the gimmick gets old.

Then there's "War Chant". The string sounds are made to slide, not from note to note, but as a continuous rise in pitch as it goes, and then continuous decreasing in pitch as it goes back down. The effect is like some Hollywood depiction of an acid trip or something.

From what I can tell, neither of these two pieces is written in any classical type of form. They're merely free-form sound pieces; no structure like the musical growth and architecture of a symphony, or a quartet, or a concerto, or anything.

One saving element is the last piece, a clarinet concerto of sorts called "Drill". Strongly jazz influenced, and just a bit of rudimentary musical development here, but a hybrid of minimalism is used not in the best way, apparently to extend the piece. OK, so here is where the car finally gets some traction and unceremoniously pulls itself out of the ditch with mud flying everywhere and drivers passing by shaking their heads. But by then, one is turned off to the disc as a whole.

However, the music is what it is, and in the end, it really doesn't make any pretenses of being anything more than a collection of glorified classically-oriented pop melodies. Some may find it enjoyable, and for that and its lack of pretense, I score it a 3.


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