CD Review: Angelica Sanchez and Marilyn Crispell “How to Turn the Moon”

By Hrayr Attarian





Angelica Sanchez

and Marilyn Crispell

How to Turn the Moon

Angelica Sanchez – Piano

Marilyn Crispell – Piano






Pianists Angelica Sanchez and Marilyn Crispell close the generational gap in creative music on their stimulating How to Turn the Moon. This album is a seamless collection of Sanchez’s compositions and the duo’s spontaneously created ones. It highlights the pianists’ contrasting individualities as well as the fluid synergy between them.

The ideas flow from one pianist to the other with facility and elegance. This becomes clear from the opener, “Lobe of the Fly.” The gradually increasing tempo of the cascading refrains build up to a delightfully dissonant and fiery repartee. Crispell’s percussive tones mirror Sanchez’s muscular chords in the thrilling conclusion.

The sound of prepared pianos makes the entirely improvised “Space Junk” ethereal and expressive. Sanchez and Crispell engage in an intriguing and otherworldly dialogue that utilizes pauses to dramatic effect. Each artist takes her turn manipulating the piano innards while the other punctuates these captivating reverberations with sparse, chiming key strikes.

The deft usage of silence leads to an atmosphere of introspective lyricism. “Ancient Dreams,” for instance, consists of contemplative strums that echo against darkly shimmering phrases. This sublime duet, elegiac and dramatic, is an intimate and singular nocturne that moves the soul and provokes the mind.

Similarly, the crystalline “Calyces of Held” brims with spirituality and wistful poetry. Sanchez and Crispell create overlapping, dulcet melodies that circle each other to kaleidoscopic effect. The pensive, stream-of-consciousness extemporizations grow more angular, lithe, and acrobatic without losing their emotive tenderness.

This uniformly superb work closes on a poignant note with the cinematic “Fires in Space.” Crispell’s dynamic solo sets the vibrant ambience within which Sanchez’s lines glint with a sharp edge and flicker like flames. The mesmerizing tune makes for an apt ending to this brilliant record.

How to Turn the Moon showcases Sanchez’s maturity as a composer and her dynamism as a performer. It also demonstrates Crispell’s trademark passionate intelligence that remains unabated over the course of her career. This innovative recording will haunt the listeners long after the music has stopped playing.

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