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Nineteen Ways of Looking at a Cello Scott Ordway's stark cello compositions, as animated by Arlen Hlusko

Nineteen Ways of Looking at a Cello

Scott Ordway's stark cello compositions, as animated by Arlen Hlusko

by Jay Lewis, Reviews Editor
first published: May, 2021

approximate reading time: minutes

A hugely emotional work

Nineteen Movements for Unaccompanied Cello
Arlen Hlusko

It starts with the splash, a drop of rain, a gradual and welcome sign of a spring shower. A relief. A moment of calm. 

Later, there will be tension, moments that could soundtrack a shocking  revelation in a cinematic drama and the sense that you are staring out at a turbulent sea. 

At least that's what I heard.

From the enticing plucked strings at the start of  Nineteen Movements for Unaccompanied Cello to the mournful sweeps that close the album, this is an exquisite exploration of the wide emotional range of just one instrument.

Californian composer and Visual Artist Scott Ordway was commissioned to write 'Nineteen Movements...' the sound recording is by Canadian born cellist Arlen Hlusko. The work was first performed in 2018 and it is only now we finally available thanks to Acis of Washington DC.

'Nineteen Movements...' is a fascinating album that both explores the vast expressive capabilities of the cello with each short piece but also works as one cohesive narrative.  As their is only one instrument present for the fifty five minute duration, you can wander through the spaces, create your own place.

Frequently, throughout the album, musical ideas are introduced then later reimagined and recast. It creates a maze like feeling of that you may or may not taken a certain turning before. It may be the only album that has been described as a palindrome, like the last Christopher Nolan film but way more satisfying.

'Nineteen Movements for Unaccompanied Cello' is far more than a clever structure, it it a hugely emotional work that demands that you listen closely. Please do.

Ordway Hlusko

Essential Info:
Scott Ordway online
Arlen Hlusko online

Jay Lewis
Reviews Editor

Jay Lewis is a Birmingham based poet. He's also a music, movie and arts obsessive. Jay's encyclopedic knowledge of 80s/90s Arts films is a debt to his embedded status in the Triangle Arts Centre trenches back then.

about Jay Lewis »»



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