Reviews: Hyperstring Trilogy

We set up this page to index reviews of Tod Machover’s “Hyperstring Trilogy” CD. Please let us know if you come across additional reviews. Thanks!

“It’s very imaginative and compelling music and a thrill to play for the performer.” – Matt Haimovitz in an interview, speaking about “Begin Again Again”

Boston Globe – Review of Hyperstring Trilogy (reposted by ArkivMusic) – “The 70-minute Hyperstring Trilogy has been recognized as one of Machover’s most important works. The three pieces which make up the trilogy, Begin Again Again… for Hypercello Solo (1991), Song of Penance for Hyperviola, Computer Voice, and 17 Instruments (1992) and Forever and Ever for Hyperviolin and Chamber Orchestra (1993) are loosely based on the dramatic and psychological sweep of Dante’s Divine Comedy, they explore loss and gain, pain and recovery, despair and hope and, in passing, what is lost and gained by technology. “Players Humanize Techno ‘Trilogy’: No praise can be too high for conductor Gil Rose and the Boston Modern Orchestra Project, for the computer team, for soprano Bennett, and for the three hypersoloists, cellist Matt Haimovitz, violist Kim Kashkashian, and vioinist Ani Kavafian, in a part of almost unbelievable difficulty.”

The Philadelphia Inquirer – Tod Machover: Hyperstring Trilogy (re-posted by BMOP) – by David Patrick Stearns. “The music on this disc is so good, you’d be tempted to proclaim it one of the best new-music discs of the decade were the pieces not 10 or more years old.

The M.I.T-based Machover spent the late 80’s and early 90’s developing hybrid electronic instruments, though this disc shows his greatest talent is that of a composer. More than Pierre Boulez, Machover composes for electronically generated sound as if it were his first language.

Besides having a staggering imagination, Machover has the ear of a French impressionist, which gives the music a dazzling clarity even when the composer piles on the layers, which in Song of Penance (the hyperviola concerto) includes a poem recited performance-artist style. There’s a lot in these pieces- even tunes, particularly in the violin concerto Forever and Ever- that makes every listening a new adventure.”

LA Weekly (re-posted by BMOP) – by Alan Rich. “Tod Machover’s Hyperstring Trilogy, on the Oxingale label and by some distance the most exhilarating disc release of these otherwise drab summer months, sets off memories of the not-too-distant past and stirs up all kinds of hopes for a not-too-hopeless future…The new disc contains three extensive works by Machover for those instruments — a solo piece for “hypercello,” a work for “hyperviola” with computer-manipulated voice and a small ensemble of “live” instruments, a work for “hyperviolin” and chamber orchestra. These are works of considerable extent, and the most important thing about them is that they are also powerful, intense, beautiful music…the technical mastery on this disc is breathtaking, and so is the music.”

CDBaby – Review of Hyperstring Trilogy – by Tamara Turner. “No less than thoroughly stunning, breathtaking and totally arresting, this ingenious album of contemporary classical experimental works is unprecedented in its pronounced vision and brilliantly innovative conception of acoustic and computer-aided electric crossover. In this vision, Hyperstrings “are [acoustic] instruments enhanced with technology, designed ‘to enable the performer’s normal playing technique and interpretive skills to shape and control computer extensions to the instrument, thus combining the warmth and personality of human performance with the precision and clarity of digital technology.'” Featuring hypercello, computer-altered voice and Hyperviolin with Chamber Orchestra, these works are undoubtedly some of the most pioneering masterpieces of contemporary music and should not be missed by either classical, experimental or electronic connoisseurs. If any album can be considered a masterpiece among the CD Baby warehouse, this is certainly it.”

allmusic – Review of Hyperstring Trilogy – by Blair Sanderson. “By subjecting acoustic instruments to computer manipulation, Tod Machover has opened his timbral resources to limitless possibilities, yet he still retains the drama of live performance in his hybrid pieces…Begin Again Again…, for hypercello, is a fantastic journey into the instrument’s overtones, and cellist Matt Haimovitz pushes past all barriers in this virtuosic solo. Song of Penance, for hyperviola, computerized voice and 17 instruments, is even more elaborate, and violist Kim Kashkashian and soprano Karol Bennett are altered to sound like many performers, to haunting effect. Forever and Ever, for hyperviolin and chamber orchestra, is a concerto in form, but unlike any other in its extraordinary demands…violinist Ani Kafavian is often floating in the stratosphere above them, producing ethereal sonorities that defy convention and expectations.”

Boston Phoenix – Noise levels: Electronic music at Boston’s Cyberarts Festival; the BSO’s season closer – By Lloyd Schwartz. “Based on the Sarabande from Bach’s second solo cello suite, with 10 variations on a theme, it remains — and Heimovitz’s [sic] performance ensured that it continues to be — the most moving section of the trilogy…Begin Again Again . . . is about renewal after suffering. The second — the shortest and most violent — section of the trilogy is in some ways more painful. This purgatorial Song of Penance (1992) adds live chamber orchestra and a pre-recorded voice (soprano Karol Bennett, reciting and then singing a poem by Rose Moss) that is activated by the hyperviola (played with eloquent inventiveness by Kim Kashkashian)…[Ani] Kavafian and the full BMOP orchestra then returned for Forever and Ever…a repeated hearing revealed new delights. This time I could hear more clearly the changing rhythmic figurations (first pizzicatos, later the entire orchestra chiming) and how a little folk dance could turn into a joyously cosmic reel.”

Amazon review of Hyperstring Trilogy – “This is one of my favorite contemporary classic CDs released in the last several years. It is a joint venture of several of the best in the new music arena. The pieces combine new technology and modern composition with surprisingly wonderful results. Not just an experiment, but, a great set of musical performances…[Machover’s] choice of subject is well matched to the music composition he has created, it is loosely based on the dramatic and psychological story of Dante’s “Divine Comedy”…”Begin Again Again…” is over 19 minutes, but, because it is so emotional and gripping, it moves very quickly. Matt Haimovitz is fantastic on this piece, demonstrating a wonderful range of emotions and depth…”Song of Penance” is also a super piece. It combines a hyperviola and voice. It is unique, haunting…At times the rock like impact of the sounds is overwhelming, yet, the many layers leave one wanting to hear the piece several more times…”Forever and Ever for Hyperviolin & Chamber Orchestra”…is a roller coaster of emotions and sounds…Kudos to Ani Kafavian, Gil Rose and BMOP on this dramatic and strenuous piece, it is a fantastic accomplishment.”

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