New Composer: Domenic Di Cello - Out of Castles
Out of Castles was an album by Domenic DiCello released in 2006, so it isn't necessarily new, but I just discovered a review of it on top40-charts.com in their classical section calling it "Modern Day Classical Music With Flavor." To call it music with flavor is like saying a new vanilla ice cream is modern food with flavor. Yes, it's all original music by Domenic DiCello, and it is lovely, but it's hardly anything new and exciting.
Before I get too overly harsh with my own review, I should say top40-charts thought "there's something exciting coming out of Albuquerque, New Mexico." Quoted in this review are the comments by Terah Tucker, "From the first few notes of the first song on the album, I was sold. Domenic not only composes beautiful music, his execution of the pieces is superb. His technical ability is amazing, and the feeling he brings to each performance is truly a joy to listen to. Every song has it's own personality, and there's not one on this album that I don't like."
The music is lovely, and very much like so much of the music written by Windhamhill Records or any of the other slushy neo-romantic composers out there writing "easy listening" classical music. There is some pretty fair piano technique in some of the pieces, but nothing so bold as even Liszt might demand, certainly not that of Chopin, even though some of the pieces bear a striking resemblance to Di Cello's predecessors.
Yes, it's nice music. I wouldn't object to this playing as background music at a nice restaurant (certainly better music than most piped in music). But I wouldn't put this album on at home if I was in a serious listening mood, wanting to listen to music for the sole reason of listening to the music. It is background music, as beautiful as it is.
Some of you might be thinking "Hey, you complain about 'new' music being atonal and non-musical and then a composer comes along and writes tonal music and you still complain? What gives?" Yes, my tastes don't run toward the atonal, but there is a way to write interesting, challenging music that is still tonal. In my article about blending pop and classical music the artists are a good example of doing just that, writing challenging music that is still very tonal. The very next article, "Why does new music have to be non-musical" I reference a performance of a Penderecki which also achieves new music while still remaining tonal. Those are just two examples written recently.
I enjoy vanilla ice cream, and often I prefer vanilla to some of the fancier flavors available from Ben and Jerry's or Hagindaz. But pretty much every major grocery store chain has their own flavor of vanilla ice cream, so a new version isn't a major revelation. Out of Castles is "nice" music and that's about all that should be said of it.