Review: 2 Challenging Pieces by an Exciting Young Composer
Idiosyncratic, Complex, And Cool: Noon and Little Chant by Janko Raseta
At the modest age of 24, this composer/performer has already won over 30 prizes at performance and composition competitions and recorded two albums. Having heard some of his performances, I expected his pieces to be rather difficult to play, and that is most certainly the case with “Noon”—it’s a one-movement allegro written mainly in eighth notes. It opens with a hesitant two-note idea that leaps around as if lost; that then turns into a constant group of three-note ideas that jump upward, each time beginning in a different place. This delicate arabesque of an opening then transforms into a cantabile two-voiced idea that has a certain amount of almost bitonality, where the second voice’s harmonies are entirely different from the top voice’s melody. The opening idea then returns to be further developed over the final three pages. This final part is quite extended and constantly shifting harmonically.
Wiktoria Szubelak performs Raseta’s “Noon”
“Little Chant” is another highly individual piece. It has no time signature and begins with an extremely fast, repeated E (fourth string) interlaced with occasional lower bass notes that seem random at first glance. Indeed, the groupings (and the speed required) are so extreme that, although the idea itself looks easy enough on the page, it is quite a different thing when performed. After this rather extensive opening, the opening 16th notes become a second voice to a higher melody line written in larger notes that hurtles around the guitar, clashing harmonically as it goes. At bar 24, the strange harmonies give way to an almost folkish melody that develops considerably over the next few bars before the two-voiced idea returns, again followed by the quieter harmonies of the folk theme. This, in turn, suddenly morphs into the opening jitters of the repeated E’s and their seemingly random basses. Then, a brief long giocoso chord leads to a fast 16th-note run and a final slam on octave A’s.
Raseta performs “Little Chant”
The writing on both is tricky to get your hands around, but everything is tonal, if idiosyncratic, sounding like nothing I have tried before. If this young man’s playing is already known to you, you need no further words from me except to say that you have to be a strong player to cope with its complexities! –Chris Dumigan