Cerrone's latest EP features his piano concerto, The Air Suspended, commissioned and premiered by Shai Wosner in 2019 and Why Was Born Between Mirrors?, a sextet performed by Pittsburgh New Music Ensemble. Cerrone's topical, post-minimalist voice speaks powerfully through these two works that both take inspiration from the work of poet Ben Lerner, among other sources.
Cover art by Karl Daubmann
Christopher Cerrone’s latest EP, The Air Suspended is a follow-up to Cerrone’s GRAMMY-nominated 2021 album, The Arching Path, The Air Suspended features as its centerpiece a concerto for piano and strings featuring pianist Shai Wosner and the Argus Quartet, who recorded every string part in the concerto during the early days of the Covid-19 Pandemic.
According to the program notes by Tim Munro:
With performances of his new piano concerto canceled, Christopher Cerrone wanted to fight his sense of loss. He wondered if he could try something new, to build an album of far-flung shards: instruments recorded in studios and living rooms across the country.
“I have an interest in albums that are not simply an imitation of live-music-making,” says Cerrone. Having produced albums since the eighth grade, he says, “I’ve known the recording studio far longer than I’ve known classical music.”
Album-ized, these acoustic works take on a different hue. Gone are the spacious ambience of airy halls. Gone are the hazy, indirect sounds of distant mics. Instead, we are up close: rosin sticking on strings, air blowing into our ears. Tightly wound machines buzz and churn and clank.
The Air Suspended evokes the raw, elemental power of the weather. Originally commissioned and premiered by Shai Wosner in 2019, the work was specially tailored to Wosner’s unique virtuosic skills, delicacy of tone color, and collaborative spirit, while nodding to the ambient and terrifying emotional effects of climate change:
“I was searching for something that would give imagist power to that idea,” Cerrone says, enveloping listeners in the thrill, power, and violence of an approaching storm.
Why Was I Born Between Mirrors? completes the EP. A work for sextet, it features such unusual instrumentation as tuned flower pots and prepared piano; the Pittsburgh New Music Ensemble (who also co-commissioned the work) recorded it in locations as far-flung as Seattle, Paris, Copenhagen, and Brooklyn.
Munro writes further:
Cerrone’s album is a love-letter to poet and novelist Ben Lerner. Cerrone read Lerner’s novel Leaving the Atocha Station while living in Rome on a fellowship. […] Poet and composer both make art of this faultiness. In Cerrone’s music we might hear it in the friction of hazy, buzzing, “imperfect” out-of-tune notes.
As Lerner writes, “I did not walk here all the way from prose / To make corrections in red pencil / I came here tonight to open you up / To interference heard as music.”
The Air Suspended also marks Cerrone’s third collaboration with producer Mike Tierney. Their 2019 The Pieces that Fall to Earth was nominated for a 2020 GRAMMY for Best Chamber Music/Small Ensemble Performance; while their 2021 The Arching Path was nominated for a 2022 GRAMMY for Best Classical Compendium.
– Chris Cerrone
Buy or stream The Air Suspended from all platforms here or buy a download or limited edition CD from Bandcamp
Score-follow video of the The Air Suspended performed by Shai Wosner and the Argus Quartet
Christopher Cerrone (b. 1984) is internationally acclaimed for compositions characterized by a subtle handling of timbre and resonance, a deep literary fluency, and a flair for multimedia collaborations.
Recent commissions include In a Grove, a new opera co-produced by LA Opera and Pittsburgh Opera, a violin concerto for Jennifer Koh and the Detroit Symphony, an antiphonal brass concerto for the Cincinnati Symphony, a piano concerto for Shai Wosner and the Phoenix and Albany Symphonies; a percussion concerto for Third Coast Percussion; and three works for the LA Philharmonic. His first opera, Invisible Cities, based on Italo Calvino’s novel, was a finalist for the 2014 Pulitzer Prize and he is the recipient of multiple GRAMMY nominations. He is the winner of the 2015–2016 Rome Prize and will be a fellow at Laurenz Haus in Basel, Switzerland from 2022–23.
Christopher Cerrone holds degrees from Yale and the Manhattan School of Music and is published by Schott NY. He is on the composition faculty at Mannes School of Music and lives in Brooklyn with his wife. christophercerrone.com.