By Donald Rosenberg, Gramophone
Sandbox Percussion, an ensemble based in New York, have been expanding the repertoire for their vast array of instruments since 2011. The four works on their debut album, ‘And That One Too’, reveal both the refined virtuosity the musicians have cultivated and their exceptional taste in choosing composers who write for percussion with vibrant and elegant imagination.
Each of the pieces proclaims, in all sorts of subtle ways, how colourful and varied the music shaped for percussion instruments can be. There is rarely a moment when bombast intrudes upon the dreamy, glistening and propulsive narratives. Andy Akiho’s Haiku 2, for example, radiantly transfers the structure of the Japanese poetic form to the gleaming sonorities of bells, wood blocks and other instruments pitched and unpitched.
The four movements of David Crowell’s Music for Percussion Quartet range from energetic flourishes and layered rhythms to sustain halos of sound. Patterns change organically as the instruments – including guitar, played by the composer – interact with seamless animation or stillness. The composer Amy Beth Kirsten is also present as vocalist (on three tracks) in the effervescent she is a myth, repeating bits of text in quick succession amid the delicate rustlings and tappings of the percussion.
The disc draws its title from Thomas Kotcheff’s not only that one but that one & that too, whose three movements give Sandbox members Jonathan Allen, Victor Caccese, Ian Rosenbaum and Terry Sweeney many opportunities to connect on a multiplicity of instruments while evoking haunting and ritualistic soundscapes. Silence is as crucial in Kotcheff’s creation as are hushed gestures, ominous rumblings and bold action. Playing in this Sandbox must be bliss for these sophisticated artists.
From Gramophone July 2020, p. III. Click here to read on the Gramophone website.