Thursday, March 9, 2017

New Music Review: Escape by Ryan Woodhouse

I loved this piece when I first got it and still hope to see more people program it!  Listen (this excellent performance is not by me) here.

Ryan Woodhouse
©2013 Potenza Music

In the front material to Escape, composer Ryan Woodhouse writes that “Music possesses the amazing ability of transporting its listener to a beautiful world of sound where the pressures of everyday life can be momentarily forgotten.  The escape that music can provide is the inspiration for this piece.”  This rather general description really does not do the pieces justice; Escape is an eight minute emotional roller coaster ride for the audience, taking us from a hazy fog, to intrigue and sheer fright, and on to a dreamy lyricism that makes this a very compelling addition to a collegiate or professional recital program.

The piano part is often minimalist in approach, switching from one vamp to another, while the flute in turn growls, shrieks, slides between pitches, and floats to a mysterious end.  There are some simple extended techniques used very sparingly, including pitch bends, flutter tongue, and humming while playing.  Range in the flute part goes from low C to high G, and rhythm/meter is standard for an advanced undergraduate player.  The tempo remains slow throughout, but the flute part sometimes breaks into fast chromatic and tonal fragments over the piano’s steady, repetitive part.  The piano part is not particularly technical and fits easily with the flute part, requiring minimal rehearsal time for more advanced performers. 

Woodhouse’s ability to evoke so many varied, convincing moods in a short period of time is laudable, and Escape is a thrilling piece to hear.  It is a wonderful addition to the repertoire. 

Nicole Riner ©2016

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