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Mr. Campbell gave the premiere of Jason Eckardt’s "Practical Alchemy" for solo cello. The composer describes the piece, which nods to medieval experiments with alchemy, as going through metastatic processes that alter the properties of its materials. It begins with short, minimal gestures — plucked tones, rustling sounds, barely audible sustained tones, bow scrapes — separated by daring silences. Slowly, the gestures coalesce into segments, phrases and, eventually, near-frenzied episodes. Mr. Campbell played it commandingly, especially the silences.

– Anthony Tommasini, The New York Times

Jason Eckardt’s "The Silenced," which had its premiere in Ms. Chase’s recital, begins with stuttering breathing. Sobs and gagged consonants are amplified through the flute. Eventually, these techniques give way to fragments of more traditional sounds, charting a progression from muzzled expression toward liberation. It’s in such juxtapositions of extended technique and conventional playing that unorthodox sounds can feel especially meaningful. They can deepen the field of emotional perspective, the way mimetic nature sounds in Vivaldi’s "Four Seasons" — rain, thunder or birdsong — push into focus the more overtly "man-made" melodies, creating the illusion of different planes of representation.

– Corinna de Fonseca-Wollheim, The New York Times

Jason Eckardt clearly rejects the argument, made with increasing frequency, that the mid-20th-century atonalists were working toward a musical dead end. Harmonically and rhythmically his music thrives on complex, constantly changing relationships, but like many composers under 40 (he was born in 1971) he tempers the more prickly, jagged elements of the post-tonal style with humor and eclecticism. What holds your attention in his music is not its ingenuity but its relentless energy and drive.

He also has a knack for defying expectations. Drawn to Minimalist sculpture — Richard Serra’s "Tilted Arc" adorns the CD cover, an allusion to the opening work, "After Serra" (2000) — he resists using the Minimalist musical vocabulary to evoke it. That resistance eventually evaporates, at least partly. The final four minutes of the score is an eerie stasis of slow textural shifts and quietly scampering solos over sustained tones. But that comparative serenity is hard won, coming after 10 minutes of vigorous, high-energy counterpoint. The most ambitious work here, the 2-movement, 27-minute "Polarities" (1998), also begins with an eventful, virtuosic opening section that gives way to quiet spareness. But the proportions are reversed; here the slow, introspective writing is the center of gravity.

- Allan Kozinn, The New York Times

Mr. Eckardt's ['Aperture'] could pass as a score by one of his elders: he writes in the eclectic style that has become the modernist lingua franca, to the extent that there is such a thing. His melodies are spiky and bristling with energy; his rhythms are sharply defined and attention-grabbing; and if his harmonic language draws freely on dissonance, it is accessible and seductive. Its most striking moments were its vibrant clarinet writing, deftly played by Brent Besner.

But Mr. Eckardt also knows how to use silence effectively (and affectingly). The final section, revisiting a notion touched on in passing earlier in the work, juxtaposes silences, pianissimo rippling at the top of the keyboard and short bursts of harsh but muted string timbre. The more extroverted writing at the start of the work seemed calculated to put the listener on edge, but as it turned out, the quieter finale accomplished that more thoroughly.

- Allan Kozinn, The New York Times

Mr. Eckardt's language is at once sophisticated and simple, his 'A Glimpse Retraced' being centered on a brilliant, fragmented, irregular piano toccata that kept disintegrating into scales, with imposing solo interventions for violin, piccolo, clarinet and cello.

- Paul Griffiths, The New York Times

Just as, in architecture, postmodernism has evolved into a generic, suburban mess, and echt-modernism is being reexamined by serious observers, this music of complexity appeals more and more to those us of bored by the pabulum of so many of the neotonalists. This is not a debate of isms. For thoughtful listeners, there is good stuff being written in a variety of styles. But it is very refreshing to hear new music written in a polytonal, serial framework, albeit not in a doctrinaire, Schoenbergian manner. Eckardt certainly does write in a complex way, throwing out furious washes of notes, now exploding in knuckle-full blasts of energy, then subsiding into mysterious cascades of quiet polytonality.

- Peter Burwasser, Fanfare

At 32, Jason Eckardt was the youngest composer represented. His piece 'After Serra,' a musical response to the sculpture of Richard Serra, moves toward a reconciliation of uptown and downtown. The inspiration and much of the extreme, almost experimental sonic character come from downtown, the language and craftsmanship from uptown.

- Richard Dyer, The Boston Globe

"Sometimes music can leave you speechless -- all sorts of speechless. After an inattentive first listen, 'Out of Chaos', the new CD of chamber music composed by Jason Eckardt, left me with a what-the-hell sort of speechlessness.... Needless to say this CD was just too hard to ignore.... You might stumble, as I did, during your first encounter with Eckardt's hyperactive uber-expressiveness. But as your senses enjoy being overwhelmed and you begin to relax into Eckardt's stringent music, try to refrain from analytical listening and simply enjoy the beautiful flow of morphing timbres.... While I understand Eckardt's connection to the dwarfing and disorienting feeling evoked by the huge, monolithic steel sculptures by Richard Serra that inspired 'After Serra', I sense a closer affinity in his music to the sculptures of Sarah Sze: giant aggregates of sprawling material that jettison against the laws of gravity and pixilate into tiny, intricate worlds that lay awaiting discovery entirely separate from the whole." [ complete review ]

- Randy Nordschow, New Music Box

"Eckardt deliberately plays with ideas of structure and timbre, leaving the listener disoriented at times. This is not an unpleasant experience. For example, there are moments of haunting, ethereal textures paired with moments of exhausting, driving activity. Passive listening simply will not do." [ complete review ]

- Christopher Chaffee, American Record Guide

"[Eckardt's works employ] drastic changes on the musical surface that create a profound structure."

- Anna King Murdoch, The Age (Melbourne, Australia)

"[Eckardt's music] explodes in violent outbursts of intensely controlled contour and rhythmic pulse bringing to mind the figuration of Berio, the gestures of Boulez and the spontaneity of Coltrane."

- Michael Gallope, Oberlin Review

"In the meatiest segment of the program, pianist Jason Hardink wondrously plunged through Jason Eckardt's 'A Glimpse Retraced,' a work that exploded like spontaneous combustion, pushing the instrument to its extremes with pungent dissonances, improvisatory rhythms remarkably cued with the ensemble and an often spread-eagled virtuosic technique."

- Jane Vranish, The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

"....if one composer comes to mind on listening to the opening ensemble work 'After Serra', it's Varese. (Maybe filtered through Birtwistle.) Strong gestures, recognisable contours and vivid contrasts define the music at every level. 'Tangled Loops', performed by Nonken and soprano saxophonist Taimur Sullivan, namechecks Parker (Charlie, not Evan this time), Coltrane and Dolphy, and is perhaps closest to the latter, in its dramatic and dogged pursuit of the interval. It's a killer piece, and must be a bitch to play -- hats off for Sullivan. Pianist Nonken is no slouch either as performers go, as PT readers may well remember, and 'A Glimpse Retraced' is a chamber concerto for her and flute / piccolo, clarinet, violin and cello. Proof that there's plenty of life left yet in the old Pierrot line-up, it's also the most accessible piece on the disc, alternating tough angular lyricism -- Birtwistle once more comes to mind -- with an exploration of extreme register as chunky and funky as mid 70s Ligeti.... ['Out of Chaos'] is as strong and solid as Richard Serra's 'Tilted Arc', a photograph of which adorns the cover." [ complete review ]

- Dan Warburton, Paris Transatlantic

"Jason Eckardt's 'Echoes' White Veil' [features] dazzling outbursts of quasi-improvisatory energy."

- Graham Lock, BBC Music Magazine (UK)

"While I probably can't persuade those who are baffled by Eckardt's ecstatic, free-form study ['Echoes' White Veil'], I can say that after repeated hearings, the work grows even more interesting. Most people hear new works once, and only once, which is unfortunate since works like Eckardt's rarely reveal all of their secrets in one pass."

- Bruce Hodges, Musicweb UK

"In Jason Eckardt's 'Tangled Loops' (1996), sax player Chien Kwan Lin never dipped below what Schoenberg called a 'mezzo-fortissimo,' wherein its glory, actually. The reed's fast-filigree bravura at one point backs the poor slow-of-speech, block-chord piano into a corner, after which many mixing-it-up, calming-down, mixing-it-up again events follow -- a guy piece, frankly, and none the worse for it."

- Richard Buell, The Boston Globe ("Best of 2001")

"Jason Eckardt (b.1971) is an American composer new to me who composes exhilarating music that is easier to enjoy than to write about.... 'After Serra' seeks to echo the sculptor's precarious balance 'verging on collapse' (see cover illustration) with aggressive, volatile outbursts giving way to emergence of the instrumentalists as soloists, but without final stability being achieved. In 'Polarities' the instruments are 'drawn to and away from each other in myriad ways', frenetic activity giving way to final stasis. 'Tangled Loops' celebrates the virtuosity of Coltrane, Parker and Dolphy, with overlapping reappearances of material and furious uninhibited virtuosity at the limits of possibility. 'A Glimpse Retraced' is for five instruments, four of them accompanying the piano in permutated combinations, duets comprising the most extended passages.... It is all music which grabs and holds attention, and makes you want to play the pieces again to get closer to the composer's mind and procedures." [ complete review ]

- Peter Grahame Woolf, Musical Pointers

"But it was Eckardt's spectacular, monumental 'Transience' that finally revealed the full scale of the marimba's range and the full extent of Nakura's virtuosity. Bravo!"

- Ben Nyberg, The Manhattan Mercury (KS)

"New Yorker Jason Eckardt brought the concert to a superb ending with his six-part "Tongues" pushing Deborah Kayser’s versatile vocals to the limits. With support from Peter Neville’s percussion, Kayser made the audience breathless with her emotionally charged phonetics."

- Jeremy Vincent, The Australian

"Jason Eckardt's 'Echoes' White Veil'...was composed of darting, exuberant decorations of static harmonies somewhere between Szymanowski and Luciano Berio....The impressive second part of the piece provided a progressive stilling of the activity, in blocks separated by silences."

- Paul Griffiths, The New York Times

"Eckardt was a rock guitarist until he heard Webern. ['Echoes' White Veil'] could easily be the result, pitting out-of-control frenzy with single quiet gestures separated by long empty spaces."

- Allen Gimbal, American Record Guide

"Nakura made wondrous sense out of...Eckardt's colorful, emotionally resonating 'Transience.'"

- Daniel Cariaga, The Los Angeles Times

"Jason Eckardt's 'Echoes' White Veil' (1996) exhibited an even more striking contrast of mood and texture. An extremely active and brilliant toccata-like section takes fire-breathing virtuosity to the limit, followed by an awesome silence where time seems to stop. A few mere wisps of sound were suspended in a state of almost total immobility, in reverse proportion to the density of the music which preceded it. The virtuoso music returns briefly before the veil is drawn again and the music ends quietly. Nonken gave a performance which went from controlled fury to eerie stillness, making the most of its dramatic impact."

- Jerry Kuderna, San Francisco Classical Voice

"Jason Eckardt's 2000 'After Serra,' which concluded the evening, takes its name from its source of inspiration: the sculpture of Richard Serra. The dual nature of solidity and fragility in Serra's work is expressed musically by dense, manic outbursts separated by nervously quiet interludes, both rendered in vivid colors."

- TJ Medrek, The Boston Herald

"There were compelling elements in a Jason Eckardt's virtuosic piano works. For one thing, the lyrical episodes had a certain freshness, the dissonances subtly molded into interesting phrases."

- Tim Smith, Miami Sun-Sentinal

"'Polarities,' a 25-minute work...began brilliantly, with an overdriven, virtuosic clarinet line.... Gradually the spotlight moved to combinations of strings, flute and clarinet, percussion and piano, sometimes in opposing groups, sometimes in close-knit counterpoint, and sometimes collaborating on eerily striking sound effects. Particularly affecting were a haunting slow section, in the middle of the work, and the pointillistic final section that emerged from it."

- Allan Kozinn, The New York Times

"Jason Eckardt's amplified wind quartet '16' (2003), [is] a compelling selection more vibrant than a hive full of honeybees in mid sugar rush. It's a pleasure to report that all its jittery energy and pervasive use of extended techniques is imaginatively harnessed in service to a sturdy binary structure outlining two large crescendos."

- David Cleary, The New Music Connoisseur

"Jason Eckardt...[is] an intelligent, erudite composer who knows and sees a great deal."

- Theo Loevendie, interviewed in Vrijdag (Holland)

"Jason Eckardt (b. 1971) is the youngest composer here who relates to the so-called "New Complexity school", and his music has many affinities with that of Ferneyhough, Finnissy or Dillon. His 'Echoes' White Veil' is a fairly complex and technically taxing piece of music. It falls roughly into two sections : the opening section is, to say the least, hyperactive and ends with a long-reverberating chord followed by a long pause. The second section is somewhat calmer, the music more rarefied with many silences though with huge dynamic contrasts. The piece is written without bar-lines and has some improvisatory character, the whole giving the impression of a restless, sometimes violent burst of creative energy. The music is again very taxing and [pianist] Marilyn Nonken rightly remarks that 'the effort required to play the piece is an integral part of its aesthetic'. Quite an impressive achievement in its own right."

- Hubert Culot, Musicweb UK

"The piece on ["American Spiritual"] that conveys most strenuously a quality of immediacy and improvisation is Eckardt's 'Echoes' White Veil,' whose title implies some of its dream-like, tentative and mystical nature, but none of its athletic jumpiness and palpable intricacies."

- Fredric Koeppel, The Commercial Appeal (Memphis,TN)

"Mr. Eckardt is young and striving hard for ambitious time-warp effects."

- Paul Griffiths, The New York Times

"Jason Eckardt's 'Echoes' White Veil' (1996), for solo piano, was filled with a tumult of sound and fury in its outer two sections, but its slow middle part was static, bare, and void of activity. This often-demanding piece was played intensely and with flair by John McGinn, who brought out its brilliant, mercurial writing to dazzling effect."

- Jules Langert , San Francisco Classical Voice

"Eckardt's music has an agile, organic energy coupled with a finely-judged sense of balance between small-scale details. The instrumental virtuosity of the improviser is also of major importance - witness the thrilling pyrotechnics of 'Tangled Loops', a jazzy seven-minute accompanied cadenza for saxophone. These pieces call for very little repose, on the part of either performer or listener; a good deal more atonal than most jazz, the works nonetheless have a brightly kinetic appeal in common with the best improvised music, and are both enjoyable and ultimately rewarding of close attention"

- Records International, July 2004

"Jason Eckardt created intricate piano explosions to echo the virtuosic fireworks described in [Les Murray's] "Performance."

- Anne Midgette, The New York Times

"Jason Eckardt's 'Tangled Loops' was a brilliant piece on the program. This was more of an ensemble piece, rather than a saxophone solo with piano. The work's perpetual motion continued without much of a break until the end. Thematic ideas were well nigh incessantly bounced around between the players. Despite having little that could be distinguishable as a melodic line, the listener could get a sense of that the ideas and motives introduced towards the beginning repeat throughout the work, but in no obvious manner. Combining this aspect with the wide range and leaps in instrumental parts made for a very appealing work."

- Brian Bice, 21st-Century Music

"In the outer portions of Eckardt's 'Echoes' White Veil' (1996), an essay in nervous energy, long lines are thickened rather than accompanied or punctuated by occasional chords and countermelodies. In the slower middle section, fiercely dissonant pileups of notes explode in isolated, widely spaced points in time."

- Tom Strini, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

"Despite his post-rock pedigree, Eckardt's rolling and tumbling style reflects the New Complexity of Ferneyhough, Finnissy, and Dillon."

- Roger Thomas, International Record Review

"Jason Eckardt's "Echoes' White Veil", whose more muscular approach seems to owe more to Cecil Taylor and Andrew Hill than to Brian Ferneyhough and James Dillon."

- Dan Warburton, Paris Transatlantic

"Jason Eckardt's ['Multiplicities'] continues the experimental jazz parallel, but a little more conventional than the Ferneyhough and certainly more reminiscent of Messiaen and Birtwistle -- natural rhythms and harmonies seem to loom large in this piece."

- Neil Horner, Musicweb UK

"[P]ianist Jason Hardink on Saturday night played Jason Eckardt's 10-minute "Echoes' White Veil." The influence of piano sonatas by Pierre Boulez was apparent. The music feels like an improvisation, but its sometimes intricate layers of cross rhythms are carefully notated. Hardink's performance was brilliant, with vibrant finger work and massive chords."

Mark Kanny, Pittsburgh Tribune

"Jason Eckardt...may not be immediately familiar, but [he is] gaining currency, slowly but surely."

Robert Hilferty, New York Today

"Mr. Eckardt's music celebrates harmonic prickliness, rhythmic complexity and a density of ideas, and was not out of step with the style's older defenders, among them Milton Babbitt and Donald Martino."

- Allan Kozinn, The New York Times

"Jason Eckhardt (sic), a New York composer, has devised 'Multiplicities', an attractive flow of gentle lines and staccato punctuations."

- Patric Standford, Music and Vision

"Jason Eckardt's 'Echoes' White Veil' was written for Nonken and dedicated to her. The piece is a fascinating pastiche of musical echoes. There is a flash of ragtime, a glimpse of operetta, a smattering of jazz. Nonken danced through the piece, slipping instantly from one style to another."

- Elaine Schmidt, The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel

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