Byrne:Kozar:Duo (Corrine Byrne, soprano and Andy Kozar, trumpet) release their debut recording, It Floats Away From You, featuring compositions by Alexandre Lunsqui, Beth Wiemann, Li Qi, Lei Liang, Vid Smooke, Jeffrey Gavett, Christian Carey, and Chris Cresswell. Not unlike in Kozar's ensemble loadbang (baritone voice, trumpet, trombone, bass clarinet), the music written for Byrne:Kozar:Duo displays great variety in the treatment of the voice, sometimes presenting it as an integrated instrument with the trumpet, and at other times in a more discrete text presentation mode.
It Floats Away From YouBeth Wiemann
|An Egyptian Pulled Glass Bottle in the Shape of a Fish
An Egyptian Pulled Glass Bottle in the Shape of a Fish
|All Are Welcome Here
All Are Welcome Here
Proof of Concept for Floating ChildJeffrey Gavett
all that's left is dirt and skyChris Cresswell
Byrne:Kozar:Duo (Corrine Byrne, soprano and Andy Kozar, trumpet) release their debut album, a collection of works that examine the myriad ways these two instruments can complement each other, fuse together, and create innovative hybrid timbres. Composers Alexandre Lunsqui, Beth Wiemann, Li Qi, Vid Smooke, Jeffrey Gavett, Christian Carey, Lei Liang, and Chris Cresswell draw from a range of text sources and craft acoustic and electroacoustic textures that establish a vanguard repertoire for this infrequently heard duo combination.
Alexandre Lunsqui contributes two works to the album, at the beginning and end of the program. Solis plays with a fragment of The Beatles’ iconic song “Here Comes the Sun,” alternating between pointed, angular deconstructions of the material and frozen long tones, as if the forward motion of the melodic idea is momentarily paused in time. In Two Patches, we hear the two voices in near rhythmic unison throughout, while Lunsqui uses timbre, dynamic envelope, articulation, and diction to create a meta wind instrument, capable of alternating which subtle instrumental characteristics step momentarily to the fore and which recede.
Beth Wiemann’s three movement work, It Floats Away From You, sets poetry by Marianne Moore. Kozar’s trumpet opens with a fanfare figure before assuming an accompanimental role to the linear, geometric figures in Byrne’s soprano line. “A Jelly-Fish” is a study in motivic economy, growing from the seed of an initial repeated ascending perfect fourth in the trumpet. Finally, “The Fish” takes a more parlando approach in the vocal line, fitting the narrative nature of the text.Read More
Li Qi’s Lonely Grave establishes a meditative sonic environment framed by a fixed media part assembled from pre-recorded material from Kozar and Byrne. The live performers intone mournful phrases that encapsulate the nostalgic, heartbroken poetry.
In All Are Welcome Here, Vid Smooke uses the international phonetic alphabet as a template for variegated vocal timbres that can be integrated into an ensemble texture like instrumental articulations and shadings. Smooke translated the words in the title into several international languages before segmenting them into their component phonetics, sending a powerful signal about unity and equality.
Jeffrey Gavett’s Proof of Concept for Floating Child is an austere setting of texts by Gracie Leavitt that takes rhythmic inspiration from the music of metal band Meshuggah and avant vocalist/composer Meredith Monk. The work also affords Gavett a unique opportunity to explore the fascinating phenomenon of difference tones with two treble heavy instruments (producing resultant tones below the fundamentals). The outer movements alternate between cyclical rhythmic figures and closely spaced sustained intervals that grind against each other. The freer inner movement winds its way through modal, melismatic textures and dramatic wide interval leaps.
Christian Carey’s A Lady takes a more traditional approach to text setting, spreading coloristic word painting between the voice and instrument parts. Kozar inhabits multiple roles, sometimes shadowing Byrne’s lines with chromatic harmonization, and other times jumping out of the texture with characterful muted passagework. The piece ends with a brief series of microtonal sighing gestures.
Lei Liang’s Lake paints a luminous, disembodied nocturnal scene of mysterious tranquility. The trumpet and voice echo each other with swells, glissandi, and briefly organic moments of natural punctuated drama.
Chris Cresswell’s all that’s left is dirt and sky employs field recordings, ambient noise, and room tone as fixed media. The three movements each have their own ambient frame, but the relationship between the fixed media and live performers remains similarly reverential. all that’s left is dirt and sky unfolds as a love song to the environments that surround us, an immersive, inclusive embrace of a larger space within which music is created and heard.
The range of aesthetics and sonic possibilities in these works is only matched by Bryne:Kozar:Duo’s commanding performance. The art of duo performance always lies in the subtle intricacies of interaction magnifying the texture to create something that is more than the sum of its parts. Byrne:Kozar:Duo have cultivated that and more, navigating traditional and non-traditional performance techniques with comparable ease, placing a wide range of aesthetic possibilities on equal footing. For composers writing for soprano and trumpet, or similar combinations, this album can guide the way, providing a template for integration across multiple parameters as a powerful vehicle for expressive breadth and depth.
– Dan Lippel
All works recorded at Oktaven Audio in Mt. Vernon, NY between 2018 and 2023
Produced, recorded, and mastered by Ryan Streber
Additional audio editing by Charles Mueller
Album art and design by Alex Eckman-Lawn
Created by New York City and Boston based soprano Corrine Byrne and trumpeter Andy Kozar, the Byrne:Kozar:Duo presents historically informed performances of Baroque music for natural trumpet and soprano in addition to commissioning new works for modern trumpet and soprano. They have been said to create 'an arresting symbiosis in their melding of voice and trumpet timbres' (Textura) and that the 'trumpet and voice seem to take on one another's qualities' (Bandcamp Daily). As individuals, Corrine has been called a ‘celebrated singer’ (Broadway World) and 'a rising star' (Arts Westchester) while Andy has been called a 'star soloist' (TimeOutNY) and ‘polished and dynamic, with very impressive playing’ (Baltimore Sun). Combining their strengths as performers and interpreters of both early and modern music, the Byrne:Kozar:Duo has commissioned new works by composers including Reiko Futing, Paula Matthusen, David Smooke, Scott Worthington and Scott Wollschleger. As recording artists, they can be heard on a recent release of the music of Scott Wollshleger on New Focus Recordings which was named a Notable Recording of 2017 in The New Yorker. Recent appearances include performances at the Boston Early Music Festival, Lake George Music Festival, Divergent Studio at the Longy School of Music, NienteForte in New Orleans, and New Music Miami. They have also been heard on American Public Media's Performance Today as well as on National Public Radio.
Corrine Byrne brings a healthy set of soprano pipes to Andy Kozar’s well manipulated trumpet for this debut recording, where compositions by Alexandre Lunsqui, Beth Wiemann, Li Qi, Vid Smooke, Jeffrey Gavett, Christian Carey, Lei Liang, and Chris Cresswell make for a distinct and exciting version of chamber music.
Lunsqui’s “Solis” starts the listen with playful vocal scatting and gorgeous singing that illustrates a stunning ability alongside the well timed brass moments that point towards The Beatles’ classic, “Here Comes The Sun”, and Wiemann’s “It Floats Away From You” follows with poetry from Marianne Moore, where 3 movements pay close attention to pitch and mood thanks to the stunning voice and expressive trumpet.
Further along, “Lonely Grave”, by Qi, finds a meditative place to reside, where the intimately sonic landscape is mournful and heartbreaking, while Carey’s “A Lady” puts forth strategic harmonization from Kozar that complements the vocal acrobatics of the colorful text.
Closer to the end, “All That’s Left Is Dirt And Sky” recruits field recordings, ambient noise and room tone for the love song about environments, and Lunsqui returns for the final track, “Two Patches”, where a pair of voices in rhythmic unison rely much on timbre, articulation and diction, and the instrumentation provides a sparse backdrop.
The duo are well versed at interpreting work, and their inimitable delivery and meticulous nature makes for a highly atypical chamber and baroque experience.
— Tom Haugen, 7.20.2023
New Focus leaves it up to the artists whether releases are digital-only (for file download) or actually appear as a physical release. As we do not really review digital releases, this has reduced the volume of NFR reviews by more than half. Add to this the summer break, which has been quiet around NFR releases lately. I need to catch up on this now. The two releases picked out here are the two latest. But, coincidence or not, subsequent releases often have something in common with NFR. In this case, the use of brass instruments with a single other instrument in a duo setting.
The first, by the newly formed Byrne:Kozar:Duo, pairs soprano vocals with a trumpet. This sounds really odd. On the other hand, Andy Kozar has already
collected a lot of experience in the group Loadbang (reviewed in Vital 1356), where trombone, bass clarinet, and trumpet are mixed with baritone vocals. Thinking back to that release ('Quiver'), a thread matches the corresponding brass/wind instrument to the vocal timbre. So, the trumpet and soprano voice should go well together in pitch. Nevertheless, I also remember not being too fond of the work Loadbang presented.
Byrne:Kozar:Duo have a slightly different approach to Loadbang, maybe facilitated by only being two musicians which allows them to be more focused whilst having nowhere to hide in the mix. The various compositions differ strongly, being from a line of composers, but mainly, the trumpet acts as the accompanying instrument with the voice performing melody lines. This is not actually fully true, as the different pieces represent different musical ideas. But maybe, as a listener, you simply consider the voice leading, the instrument trailing by default. The music, in
general, is melodic, or even if it flies, the 'contemporary' colours are at least a little dissonant. Byrne/Kozar also perform baroque music for trumpet and voice - which I had not heard of and is not represented on this release. But it may explain the melodic feel of this album. In Alexandre Lunsqui's piece 'Solis', the first track, trumpet and voice follow similar patterns, like chasing each other through staccato and lyrical parts. Very tight. 'It Floats Away..' by Beth Wiemann turns poetry by Marianne Moore into music. I am not a fan of much of contemporary poetry, finding a lot of it preposterous. Luckily, following the words in the music is hard - you can read them in the booklet if you want. Or just don't. The three parts of 'It Floats' set vocals and trumpet lines against each other, seemingly independent of each other. Still, the three parts work very well. 'Lonely Grave' by Li Qi is the one bit of poetry I really liked. It is based on ancient Chinese poetry by Su Shi and is
a reminiscence of a lost love. The music reflects this and consists of long drawn sounds played through a veil or mist. This piece uses electronics to create multiple layers, which considerably helps the mood.
The further pieces by Vid Smooke, Christian Carey, Lei Liang, and again Lunsqui use the approaches displayed up to here to create similar sounding pieces. The only exception is Lunsqui, with tightly played trumpet lines and voices following each other expertly. Only when scanning the liner notes was I aware that the Duo is actually a married couple. Talking of excellently harmonised instrumental lines. This leaves two pieces to contemplate further. One is the three-movement Jeffrey Gavett's 'Proof of Concept for floating child', which revolves around a concise text. It is unusual as it uses rhythmic sounds of breath and mouthed noises interlaced with a nearly baroque setting of harmonies at times. And finally, Chris Cresswell's 'All that is left is dirt and sky'. I must
say, what I definitely liked about this release was the titles. Again, in 3 parts, we find a piano accompaniment in contrast to the other pieces. Long-drawn reverb and background hiss create an unworldly atmosphere in which the trumpet is actually a bit superfluous. If it had been left off, the pieces would have worked even better; pity the trumpet. This composition is one of my favourites on this release - having listened to the duo for some length, the expansion to more sound layers and the subdued atmosphere were a real treat.
— RSW, 9.05.2023
A debut album from the Byrne:Kozar:Duo hits an impressive mark, with finely curated and exquisitely performed new works for soprano and trumpet.
Undoubtedly, this ensemble is a unique one. It unveils surprising tonal ecosystems and colouristic effects rarely heard, originating from an elliptic Renaissance sensibility. The duo endeavours to “guide the way, providing a template for integration across multiple parameters as a powerful vehicle for expression and depth.” Once moving past such novelties, the listener embraces a lustrous, generous universe of diptych-infused dedication, perfectly integrated in a concordant yet plural narrative. The skilled synthesis from these two musicians is one reason for this achievement. The other: the compositions themselves, boasting sensitive text settings and idiomatic constructions.
Austere, even stark, music like Li Qi’s Lonely Grave (with a fixed media component) sets a compelling foil to such pieces as Alexandre Lunsqui’s Two Patches and Jeffrey Gavette’s Proof of Concept for Floating Child, the latter exemplifying the duo’s textural and rhythmic possibilities, inspired by heavy metal music and Meredith Monk.
While each track is well ordered, the disc plays more as a recital rather than a coherent album. That is not necessarily scabrous, especially when considering a debut record. Indeed it might compel the listener to leave the audio space and seek live performances from this new duo, having whet the aural appetite with unexpected soundscapes. Let the armchair listener witness first hand the energy, intimacy and aired spell, the Byrne:Kozar:Duo so masterfully conjures.
— Adam Sherkin, 12.08.2024