On Cornelius Dufallo‘s Journaling, the composer-violinist’s first CD since departing from the ensemble Ethel, we are given a truly sonic view of the modern violin as observed by many modern perspectives from both the violinist (through his interpretations as well as his own compositions) and the six other composers that contributed to the album. From the dry, unaccompanied pieces (raw, but most certainly not simplistic) to the looped and layered production-oriented pieces, Dufallo has demonstrated here that his role in that field is well-stated as a multi-tiered interpreter, and it could never be shattered.
Dufallo’s own “Violin Loops” are a series of several short pieces. Of those, the first and fifth pieces are featured here, and are both very bright, very melodic, modern fugues that are great rounds of melodic light that wrap themselves around you in a delicate way.
John King‘s “Prima Volta” is like a space-age caprice. Its use of electronics almost puts it in the Stockhausen category of that genre. Dufallo’s technique willingly still comes through heavily and with great beauty, don’t get me wrong, but I would say it comes close to being a record that should be titled Switched-On Pagainini.
Ex-Kronos Quartet cellist John Jeanrenaud‘s “Empty Infinity” is a shrill, dark continuous melody with layered arpeggios that gives the most distasteful feeling of unease since Night On Bald Mountain.
Huang Ruo‘s “Four Fragments” is played as if Dufallo had switched to the Chinese equivalent of the violin, the erhu (which is something I’d love to hear him actually try playing). The piece has a raw solo violin moving from Chinese folk music through Western avant-garde, and maintains a visceral mood throughout.
Pianist-composer Vijay Iyer offers up ”Playlist One (Resonance)”, a piece that has some great moments of pizzicato brightness that almost make one reminisce about the classical violin during what is essentially not a collection of old-world classics.
The epic 3-part work Three High Places by John Luther Adams is very indicative of the minimalist ambiance of this composer, and Duffalo brings both a faithfulness and freshness to Adams’ identity. “Above Sunset Pass” is a slow, ethereal harmonic drone, while “The Wind at McLaren Summit” is a sudden burst of high-pitched arpeggios that resonate like birds in the wilderness. The piece concludes with “Looking Toward Hope” a meditation on bringing certainty to a future that needs it.
Kenji Bunch‘s “Until Next Time” is a post-modern piece with what feels like a surprise moment of sentimentality which is seemingly rare in new music. Dufallo allows the listener to feel the sentiment without apology as he interprets this melody without having to simplify it. A beautifully fitting conclusion to this exciting odyssey of the modern violin by Cornelius Dufallo.