Anthony Di Sanza

Anthony DiSanza offers the following thoughts about this, his second recording project on the Equilibrium label. "The works presented on this recording have occupied my thoughts, creative process and performance programming for approximately seven years, affording me the opportunity to regularly re–consider my interpretations and expressive ideas.

Per Nørgård's seminal multiple percussion work I Ching is a tour–de–force of timbrel possibilities, dramatic shifts, and ferocious waves of sound. Requiring a stage full of percussion instruments drawn from various world cultures, but composed within the Western classical tradition, I Ching has taken its rightful place of importance in the contemporary percussion repertoire. Jacob Druckman's wonderfully subtle composition Reflections on the Nature of Water affords the performer many choices of character and timbre within its six unique movements describing various properties of water. With Portrait of Forest Toshi Ichiyanagi paints a beautiful and occasionally alarming picture of the forest and it's inhabitants.

Concerto for Darabukka and Percussion Quartet is as much a reflection of musics that have moved me, as it is a personal artistic expression. Inspired to compose the work by my darabukka teacher Abdulhamid Alwan, it is my hope that it provides an opportunity for the audience to sample the expressive, timbrel and stylistic possibilities of this simple, yet beautiful drum. While I certainly enjoy exploring the endless instrumental possibilities available to the contemporary percussionist, I also find that the simplicity of the drum is at the root of my percussive passion, and continues to inspire my musical thoughts and dreams".

Anthony Di Sanza has performed, presented master classes, and held residencies in North America, Europe and Asia. A strong supporter of new music, Di Sanza has been involved with the commissioning and premiering of over 30 new compositions with numerous chamber ensembles, including; Sole Nero – Piano and Percussion Duo, Keiko Abe and the Michigan Chamber Players, Galaxy Percussion and the Wisconsin Brass Quintet.

1 Portrait of Forest (1983)
Toshi Ichiyanagi
2-5   I Ching (1982)
Per Nørgård
2 Thunder Repeated: The Image of Shock 7:29
3 The Taming Power of the Small 2:08
4 The Gentle, the Penetrating 6:45
5 Towards Completion: Fire Over Water 11:54
6-11   Reflections on the Nature of Water (1986)
Jacob Druckman
6 Crystalline 3:04
7 Fleet 1:48
8 Tranquil 2:31
9 Gently Swelling 2:05
10 Profound 3:29
11 Relentless 2:06
12 Concerto for Darabukka and Percussion Quartet (2004)
Anthony Di Sanza
Total Playing Time 65:43

Percussive Notes: October 2011
On the Nature of...Anthony Di Sanza EQUILIBRIUM®

"Great compositions gradually reveal themselves to us over long periods of time, both in grand concepts and the most nuanced details," Anthony Di Sanza writes in the liner notes of his new solo percussion recording. It illustrates a decision to record three well–known works from the solo percussion repertoire: "Portrait of Forest" by Toshi Ichiyangi, "I Ching" by Per Nørgård, and Jacob Druckman's "Reflections on the Nature of Water." In addition to these standards, Di Sanza includes one of his own compositions: "Concerto for Darabukka and Percussion Quartet." One objective of the latter work is to celebrate the simplicity of the drum, which he says, "continues to inspire musical thoughts and dreams."

Like a well–balanced recital, the programming and pacing provide variety, contrast (emotional and sonic), and stylistic diversity. The recording quality is excellent, especially with the sometimes ethereal sound world of Nørgård's "I Ching" and creating balance between the subtle darabukka and the powerful/ visceral drumming accompaniment in the concerto. Depth and clarity in Di Sanza's interpretations are clearly the result of working, performing, and engaging in the creative process with these pieces over many years. While many percussionists work to expand the repertoire for percussion by commissioning new works, it is also wonderful for us to have new recordings of seminal works — those often performed, but perhaps less often recorded. As illustrated by Di Sanza, great performers can produce thought–provoking interpretations and consistently breathe new life into works with each performance, or in this case, recording.
– John Lane

American Record Guide – September/October 2011

On the Nature of...is a collection of percussion pieces performed by Anthony Di Sanza and others. The short work by Ichiyanagi is aimless and derivative, but there are two excellent works on the program—the astoundingly difficult (and seminal) I Ching of Norgard, which charted his exploration of the infinity row in a non-pitched context, and the beautiful Reflections on the Nature of Water by Druckman—both performed very well by Di Sanza. The last work on the program is by Di Sanza himself, a Concerto for Darabukka and Percussion Quartet. The Darabukka is a middle-eastern goblet-shaped drum. With it (and his quartet) he creates a fascinating work of many facets, influenced by middle-eastern music (of course) and Japanese drumming.

All Media Guide by Stephen Eddins

Percussionist Anthony di Sanza's CD On the Nature of... features three substantial solos works and a concerto. The first three pieces date from the 1980s and are established as classics the modern percussion repertoire. Toshi Ichiyanagi's Portrait of Forest and Jacob Druckman's Reflections on the Nature of Water, both scored for marimba solo, are sophisticated and imaginative evocations of the natural world. Per Nørgård's I Ching, in contrast, is scored for what di Sanza describes as "a stage full of percussion instruments drawn from various world cultures." It's a piece that's overwhelming in the impact it makes both in the economy of its gestures and material (movement three, "The Gentle, the Penetrating") and in its dazzling timbral richness and variety (movement one, "Thunder Repeated: The Image of Shock," which sounds like it would take a stage full of percussionists to create such gigantic torrents of sound). It's a fully satisfying work; the sense of purposefulness and musical integrity that it manages to convey in spite of the enormous range of it stylistic and instrumental diversity is a testimony to Nørgård's exceptional gift and skill.

The challenge di Sanza faced in writing his Concerto for Darabukka and Percussion Quartet was creating a piece in which a non-melodic instrument could hold its own as the featured solo using only rhythm and timbral shading, and he's fully successful in pulling it off. He does expand the variety of timbres by switching between several darabukkas for the solo part. It's a wonderfully attractive piece — colorful, inventive, energetic, and consistently engaging — that draws on the music of the Near and Middle Eastern cultures of its featured solo instrument without sounding derivative. In all of these works di Sanza dazzles not only in the assurance and polish of his playing but in his tremendous vitality and spontaneity. The sound of the Equilibrium CD is vividly detailed, balanced and entirely clean.

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Anthony Di Sanza CD Image

On the Nature Of... CD by Anthony Di Sanza