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Cooking Up New Music with Timo Andres

Cooking and composing are more similar than you might think; in fact, a major treatise on Indian music, the Natyasastra, describes the quality of music as rasa, or taste—which is also the same word for gravy. 

Timo Andres is no stranger to cooking. As a composer of celebrated works for solo performers, chamber ensembles, and even orchestras, Andres is comfortable working with the instrumentalists—or ingredients—at hand. Andres was recently featured on xoxo cooks, a YouTube channel hosted by Adrienne Stortz, cooking up a delicious-looking steak salad, which is a great metaphor for his music: healthy and fresh, but also complex and satisfying. 

With that in mind, we'd like to feature four of Andres' works that have all been recently published on PSNY, all of which call for different ingredients. Mooring, for violin, viola, cello, and piano, is a short amuse-bouche, written as a musical offering for a wedding. Fast Flows the River, for cello and Hammond Organ, is a flowing, lyrical setting of the folk song, "Call John the Boatman," a healthy appetizer for what's to come. 

And now for the entrées: Austerity Measures, a percussion quartet, was commissioned and premiered by Third Coast Percussion; call it Andres' experimentation with molecular gastronomy. Freed from his "faithful anchor" of harmony, Andres experiments wildly with the possibilities of timbre, texture, and large-scale form, while still exploring echoes of J.S. Bach and other Western composers in the process. Andres' Piano Quintet, premiered by Jonathan Biss and the Elias String Quartet, is really the main course: a 22-minute reimagining of the Romantic piano quartet, here posed as a five-part, continuous development of characteristic ideas, reminiscent of Schubert's Piano Quintet. A meal-within-a-meal, this piece exemplifies Andres' impeccable taste in exploring the possibilities of classical instrumental ensembles within the context of contemporary music. 

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