Jon Rose and Chris Abrahams have been circling one another for decades. Four to be exact. They’ve worked together on a variety of projects, but never as a duo. That alone makes this recording an exciting proposition for fans of new classical music.
Rose is a violinist who pushes the instrument well outside its conventional boundaries. His collection includes a tenor hardanger fiddle, a violin often associated with traditional Norwegian music. It sports eight or nine strings, versus the standard four.
Given his detailed style, it’s not difficult to imagine Rose seeking out violins that offer something more than the standard fare. In fact, his hardanger is specially made with sympathetic strings. Designed to add resonance to his playing, Rose employs non-standard tunings that connect with Abrahams’ piano to produce wave after wave of intricate microtones.
Which is not to suggest that Abrahams’ performance is in a supporting role. He is every bit Rose’s equal. What may be most impressive about this recording is the number of times the two race forward in virtual lockstep, delivering increasingly dense solo performances side by side.
That obvious contradiction in terms is a testament to the talent on display. You could conceivably pull these two mind-blowing pieces apart and find yourself with a pair of virtuoso recitals.
But that is not at all the point. The real beauty of Peggy is in the connection of these two master improvisers. As such, it is a fitting tribute to Australian composer Peggy Glanville-Hicks. Back in 1938, Glanville-Hicks was the first in her country to see her work presented at an International Society for Contemporary Music Festival. In 1949, she joined the New York Herald Tribune as a music critic.
This album was recording during Rose’s 2017 Peggy Glanville-Hicks Composer’s Residency.