From Bach to Philip Glass, composers have long been fascinated with economical design. Working with simple materials requires innovative approaches from the composer and impressive virtuosity from the performer—which can often lead to intense, intricate works.
Robert Honstein’s new album An Economy of Means is inspired in part by this long-standing tradition. Featuring two large solo works, the title track and Grand Tour, the album seeks to show what incredible variety and complexity one performer on one instrument can develop within a piece.
An Economy of Means is a six-movement piece scored for solo vibraphone. Performed by percussionist Doug Perkins, the piece utilizes a variety of mallets and props to create wildly different colors on the instrument. Though Perkins makes it sound effortless, a performance of this work requires intense concentration and athleticism—which is why one of the piece’s most rigorous movements is titled “Cross Fit.”
It’s dazzling to watch Perkins’ coordination as he develops an intricate polyrhythmic pattern with four mallets. Making use of a metal sheet over the keys as well as tapping the sides and sliding across the resonators, Perkins generates an array of percussive sound and crisp melodic motifs. Without seeing it, you wouldn’t believe only one performer was playing.
Luckily, you can see it right here in our video premiere for “Cross Fit” from Robert Honstein’s new album An Economy of Means, created by Four/Ten Media.
Robert Honstein’s new album An Economy of Means comes out May 18. Click here to purchase the album.