Review Summary: a mechanical heart.
It is no surprise that Lubomyr Melnyk's latest offering is entitled Rivers and Streams
, as there is probably no label more appropriate to describe Melnyk's specific piano style, which is difficult to associate, even slightly, with other artists part of contemporary classical's canon. Even minimalists such as Reich and Glass, whose pieces share a lot of characteristics that pervade Menlyk's own, escape his particular brand of energy, which is impenetrably dense, yet intricate. For this reason it seems that Melnyk resides in some zone outside of Reich and Glass, but perhaps he actually occupies a space between them. Reich's adroit building of atmosphere through phasing constructs unrelenting, ear-filling expanses of sound with indiscernible melodic traces. Glass, however, utilizes a simpler approach. Rather than apply one thick volume of multi-instrumental aural sensation, Glass often travels with one instrument to develop a single path of focused emotion. But if you imagine that each heavy, rhythmical pump of vibraphone in Reich's Music for 18 Musicians
is blended with every subtle change of chord and arpeggio in Glass' Glassworks
, a product similar to Rivers and Streams
might evolve, where ringing, piano-pedaled ambiance heeds to fast and precise arpeggiated tinkering.
Even though a clear sense of direction exists in Rivers and Streams
, several pieces feel vague, almost lost. “Parasol” thrashes about, navigating a pushy tide that is manifested from vast curtains of continuous arpeggios, which begin to overlap and muddle when Melnyk sustains them past their ends through heavy-footed, uninterrupted pedal. Still, these arpeggios can't travel too far, always remaining inside this river's channel, swirling against damp walls, departing on different courses, yet every drop of water still arriving to another, same
body of water. These bustling waves morph into calmer waters occasionally. A two-note back-and-forth switch on guitar fleshes out “Ripples in a Water Scene,” which is sparser and slower compared to Melnyk's other pieces. Lacking thickness, “Ripples” not only seems less rushed, but clearer
. Instead of feeling a downpour of concentrated sound, “Ripples” permits focus, so everybody listening can follow what is happening, as well as store specific emotions as they pass.
Melnyk's ability to balance emotion and noise allows Rivers and Streams
to reach a meditative state. Amidst continuous noise Rivers and Streams
develops a kind of buzz - a soothing and addictive hum. This hum owes itself to every quick change of chord performed in such an enclosed space. There's a lot of concentrated variety on here, which is why it doesn't seem as if there's any
. Melnyk keeps everything from meandering too far, spending all of his energy on nuances closer to home. Although this type of tunnel-visioned focus makes a lot of minimal music lose feeling and attention, Melnyk retains both, Rivers and Streams