Fast-forward to 2023, and my discovery of a composer who makes me feel “compelled to do so.”
Christoper Cerrone is already a well-known figure in contemporary music in the USA – with commissions and premieres from major orchestras, opera companies and other ensembles. If I hadn’t heard of him until a few days ago, that says way more about me than it does about him.
Fortunately, Cerrone is well-represented on YouTube, Spotify, and in other online media. Not yet 40, he’s a productive composer, and the scope of his oeuvre is impressive.
So what’s his music like? A lot of things: it’s bright, buoyant and sparkly – but also delicate, bold, wistful, joyous, mysterious and disarmingly direct. He possesses a clear and distinct style (you can’t hear eight bars of his music without knowing it’s his) that draws on such diverse sources as Indonesian gamelan, the subtle sonorities of George Crumb, a touch of “Pierrot Lunaire-style” modernism and good old American minimalism.
In particular, I’d like to draw readers’ attention to Goldbeater’s Skin, a kind of song-cycle for vocalist (soprano or mezzo) and percussion quartet. In it, luscious and tintinnabulating bells, cymbals and mallet instruments gently accompany the singer, contrasted with more urgent movements for percussion alone.
The texts are based on the poetry of G.C. Waldrep. His language is sensual and evocative, and Cerrone underscores these qualities in his setting of lines such as, “My love, there is no winter but the winter of the heart,” and “I cannot help myself, before I know it, there is something like delight.”
Here’s a score-video of Goldbeater’s Skin. It’s well worth the 20 minutes it takes to listen to!
© Colin Eatock 2023