Clancy Newman & Natalie Zhu, From Method to Madness Review
Bringing us a distinctive American sound is a project titled From Method to Madness. Crafted by the talented duo of cellist Clancy Newman and pianist Natalie Zhu, this album is an eloquent tribute to friendship, innovation, and the rich tapestry of American composition. Born from a virtual performance during the pandemic and spurred into existence by an inspired patron, the album includes mesmerizing pieces like Samuel Barber’s Sonata, Kenji Bunch’s Broken Music, Lukas Foss’s Capriccio, and Newman’s own From Method to Madness. Each piece is a note in a harmonious story, capturing emotions that resonate from the very methodical to the utterly mad. Prepare to embark on a musical journey that binds the creative vigor of performers, composers, and friends, all woven into an unforgettable American soundscape.
Barber’s Sonata for Cello and Piano in C Minor, Op. 6, is performed with elegance and an ear for lyricism. The three movements form a beautiful bridge between the Old World and the New. Newman and Zhu build on the piece’s conversational style, forming a duet between tradition and innovation. Barber’s love for melody shines through, like sunlight filtering through the leaves of a grand oak tree. It’s the elegant dance between a cellist and pianist, each note a gentle embrace, each phrase a whispered secret. This piece isn’t merely played; it’s felt, lived, and breathed.
Lukas Foss’s Capriccio for Cello and Piano: is a jubilant modern classical piece that puts the cello’s and piano’s artistic expressiveness on display. The combination of humor, ingenuity, and unmistakable American verve is like a musical roller coaster, thrilling and unexpected. Hold on tight; this one’s a wild ride but exhilarating.
Kenji Bunch’s Broken Music is four movements that combine the traditional with the unconventional. The four movements present a musical mosaic, from the beautiful and tender to the shattered pieces of a mirror that reflect our collective experience. Each fragment offers a glimpse into different emotions, piecing together a haunting landscape that tugs at the heartstrings as in the final moments of “Broken Voice,” the first movement. It’s like the dramatic marching pace and rhythmic pulse developed through an emotional climax of a breakthrough in “Broken Verse,” as shards of glass scatter onto the floor. The high register cello melody offers hope and salvation and does finally return with the piano to provide their sweet sounds of resolve and calm. Savor it, dear listeners, for its emotions linger long after the last note has been played.
Moving to Newman’s From Method to Madness, here we find a balance of structure and chaos, mathematics and jazz. Newman’s cello playing is filled with mischievous sonorities as Zhu adds a splash of color to the performance with grace and accuracy. Newman’s cello not only plays the notes but dances with them, leading them through a landscape of precision and abandon. Like a musical Jekyll and Hyde, this piece is both a scholar’s dream and a jazz cat’s playground. Wear your top hat for the first half, but be ready to trade it for a fedora!
Together, these pieces create a narrative that resonates with the spirit of our time, a reflection of our collective journey, our dreams, our challenges, and our triumphs. Newman and Zhu have painted a portrait of America with their strings and keys, a rich tapestry that celebrates our diversity and creativity.
From Method to Madness is an album built on the harmonious dialogue between two consummate musicians. Clancy Newman and Natalie Zhu’s splendid chemistry forms a bright spark. This spark is the essence that weaves the musical tapestry of collaboration, courage, and creativity. Their playing is a dance, a conversation, a reflection of the rich and varied landscape that makes up our nation’s cultural heritage. This is an album that not only speaks but sings to the heart, a celebration of what it means to be American through the universal language of music.
Connect with Clancy Newman: Website |
From Method to Madness: The American Sound
July 20, 2023