Chock-full of astonishing, beautiful, and astonishingly beautiful textures, Paris-based contemporary Croatian composer Davor Branimir Vincze transports listeners through daringly original fields of sound through his work for ensemble and electronics, Inflection Point (The stunning performance below is by Ensemble Modern, a German contemporary music ensemble). In math, an inflection point is the point at which a curve switches from being convex to concave or vice versa. Vincze has translated this concept into sound by creating musical landscapes that unfold gradually until reaching a tipping point where the predominant texture of sound becomes radically altered from what came before.
For example, the first four minutes of the piece explore a dreamy atmosphere of metallic percussion and sustained notes. There are periodic accents, short notes, extended techniques (like flutter tonguing and glissandi), etc. that interrupt the texture gently. However, over time, these become more agitated and frequently occurring. By 4’30”, these materials begin to hit critical mass and start to totally destabilize the music. Dynamic levels rise and tension heightens as uncomfortable dissonance takes over. Percussion sounds (on what sound like thunder sheets) have allowed the electronic parts to discreetly enter and start creating additional timbral layers on the texture. The separation of the two becomes rather blurry until final electronic interpolation of the acoustic music becomes dominant. This slows down into a fully electronic texture of much greater stability at 5’37”.
Such a fluid transition between these textures’ cataclysmic energy is an experience to behold as a listener. To create such a strong listening experience and to make the listener wait for so long for true change to emerge demonstrates Vincze’s deft writing abilities. In a way, this kind of patience really reminds me of Pierluigi Billione’s 1 + 1 = 1 for two bass clarinetists. Both pieces really let you sink your teeth into and enjoy the textures they present because they undergo such subtle transformation over fairly large periods of time.
It must be said as well, that Vincze creates a thoroughly enjoyable listening experience in this piece for reasons beyond the implications of the title. The orchestration is quite imaginative and really helps make the music more otherworldly. He creates many strikingly beautiful sonorities from the pitches, orchestration, ornaments, etc. throughout the piece that a joy to listen to. I thoroughly enjoyed this piece and hope you all will too.
Thoughts on the music? Feel free to comment below!