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Alex Shapiro, composer email
Music for Hammers and Sticks: At the Abyss

Music for Hammers and Sticks

(
innova 630)
Innova Recordings

featuring
Alex Shapiro's
At the Abyss

recorded by pianist Teresa McCollough,
mallet percussionist Tom Burritt and
percussionist
Peggy Benkeser.

Purchase the score
and parts

This CD also includes works by:
Alvin Singleton, Steve Mackey,
Belinda Reynolds, Joseph Harchanko
and Zhou Long.

Listed as one of the Sequenza21
10 Best CDs of 2005.

Named Gracenote's "Digital Top Ten."

Music for H&S CD

Purchase this CD

or download:

iTunes link

Read about At the Abyss

Listen

Hear Observe Mov't 1: Observe

hear

Hear Reflect Mov't 2: Reflect

hear

Hear Act Mov't 3: Act

hear
         
At the Abyss

At the Abyss
At the Abyss on stage during rehearsal

At the Abyss, a dramatic, tour de force three movement work for piano, marimba, vibraphone and metal percussion is the winner of the 2003 Best Original Composition Award from the international music fraternity Mu Phi Epsilon. The music was commissioned by pianist Teresa McCollough for her 2003-2004 ten-city U.S. tour, which brought the piece to Carnegie Hall in April 2004.

Abyss trio
Percussionist Peggy Benkeser,
pianist Teresa McCollough, and
mallet player Tom Burritt.

Featured in the American Music Center's catalog of works composed in response to the events of September 11, 2001, At the Abyss is the first work featured on McCollough's new CD for Innova Recordings, Music for Hammers and Sticks, which also includes new pieces by Alvin Singleton, Zhou Long, Steven Mackey, Joseph Harchanko and Belinda Reynolds. Joining Teresa on the CD are percussionists Tom Burritt and Peggy Benkeser.
         
MFHS CD Tray
       
  Reviews  
 

Music for Hammers and Sticks

"New music for piano and percussion written for the Bay Area star pianist Teresa McCollough and her trusty percussionists Peggy Benkeser and Tom Burritt. They get up to some bouncy hijinks and infectious melodic stuff as befits hitting numerous strings and tuned wooden marimba bars. If you don’t live in sunny California this will make you wish you did. Some of today’s top concert composers here take a stab at this unusual combination of instruments; sweet and deep."

------—Innova Recordings

" ...This new CD is a lush, evocative assortment of brilliantly played new compositions...Alex Shapiro's "At the Abyss" (Observe/Reflect/Act) moves from a discordant clash of war-like "observations" to a more zen-like set of meditations, then into more organized positive "actions."...The broad diversity of styles represented here are united by the sonic signature of three fine performers in a too-rarely-heard combination of instruments.... it's music you'll wish was heard a lot more often! "

------—Douglas Currans, Amazon.com

 

 

         

"Act," the final movement of Alex Shapiro's three-part suite "At the Abyss," has a freneticism and spontaneity to it that is usually associated with jazz improv, but as far as I can see—Alex features a healthy portion of the score on her website—everything in this trio for piano and two percussionists is completely written out. Further proof of how simpatico pianist Teresa McCollough is with her percussionist cohorts Peggy Benkeser and Tom Burritt on this innova CD. I heard them pull this off live at Carnegie's Weill Recital Hall last season and that gig left me wishing I could hear it again and again. Now I can!"

------— Frank J. Oteri, American Music Center

 

 

         
 

"This musical reaction to the many sad and violent events occurring throughout the world is scored for piano, with Thomas Burritt playing marimba and vibraphone and Peggy Benkeser playing percussion. The second movement in particular is striking. The mood is very compelling, and Shapiro skillfully uses keyboard percussion intertwined with the piano and bowed crotales and cymbals throughout. The third movement is a workout for the marimba and vibes as they take the lead much of the time. This very intense movement is based on a recurring complex melodic figure that is relentless. It finally builds to an exciting climax. This piece will be an excellent addition to any percussion concert.... "At the Abyss" should be considered by any percussionists looking for great literature to perform."

------— Tom Morgan, Percussive Notes

 

 

         
 

"This recital, consisting of music for percussion and piano opens with Alex Shapiro’s wonderfully descriptive At the Abyss. It is the longest work on the program, and is reflective of the composer’s concerns for current social issues including politics and ecology. Well constructed, and full of interesting sounds, the work reminded me of some of the more creative film scoring that I have heard. This is music that conjures images in the mind, and the joy of it all is that those images will vary from listener to listener.

In all, this is an enjoyable near-hour of music, and given that we rarely get to hear works scored only for percussion ensemble, is a treat. One can hope that some more adventuresome radio programmers will get this music on the air from time to time... Innova have produced a fine sounding disc, never overbearingly loud, and in the more ambient works there is a fine bloom to the sound.

Performances are above reproach. This is fine, skilled and tasteful playing. Highly recommended to both the adventuresome and the timid alike. Take the plunge and check this one out."

------— Kevin Sutton, MusicWeb International

         
 

" If the title of this disc must give us pause, so do the titles of some of these eight works for piano and percussion: Alex Shapiro's At the Abyss, for example, or Alvin Singleton's Greed Machine, or Steve Mackey's Busted. But for listeners with open minds, piano and percussion go very comfortably together, producing a spiky, exhilarating, energetic kind of music with a tremendous range of textures and dynamics."

------— Joe McLellan, Classical Music Critic Emeritus of The Washington Post, for RedLudwig.com

 

 

         
 

"Three reflections on the present state of our species and its relation to our planet are the substance of “At The Abyss”; a work scored for piano, marimba, vibraphone, and percussion. The three named, complexly contrapuntal movements are, “Observe”, “Reflect”, and “Act”. The first is mad as hell, and the second and third, determined not to take it any more."

------— A.C. Douglas, Sounds & Fury

 

 

         
Click to order
directly:

Music for H&S CD


You can also
purchase this CD through the
Innova Recordings website,
or make your purchase via online retailers.


Amazon.com link
 

Or, download the album:

iTunes link


Alex Shapiro, composer email2
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