Words: Steve Smith
Image: Bill Wadman
Via email, Bathgate elaborated on her feelings about For Ashley:
For Ashley is inspired by the Prelude of the Fourth Suite for solo cello by Bach. Just like Bach’s Prelude, it sets the tone for what’s to come and blows the doors wide open. It’s making an entrance. The tempo is brisk, but the evolution of it is patient, elegant, and athletic. The music is changing (almost) imperceptibly from moment to moment in pitch, rhythm, and timbre. If you blink you might miss these little details, but the whole of it will knock your socks off.
Andrew’s music is always rewarding to play. For me it’s the perfect balance of music that challenges you and satisfies you at the same time: intellectually, physically, and emotionally. It grows with you. I have never once played a piece of his without discovering a new twist or turn along the way. He is a violist, so he knows strings, and I have always appreciated how he can write such beautiful music while also pushing the boundaries of the instrument. How close to the bridge can you get? How much can you squeak? How quietly and over the fingerboard can you play? What is the extreme? What is the point at which the sound teeters, where you don’t know if it’s the harmonic or the fundamental? He elicits so many different textures and colors from one’s sound, but that is often achieved with a very simple variation in gesture, be it pressure, point of contact, or velocity. It’s inventing something new, but not for the sake of being new. It’s what I would call organic music.
This piece is one of my favorites to perform live. It has that drive and excitement, which keeps you on your toes; there’s not a moment to take a breath. It’s press play and go!
If you want to hear more from ASH – which of course you do – New Amsterdam posted a video for Jacob Cooper’s movement, Ley Line, in July. ASH will be available in stores and online Sept. 27.