Nonextraneous Sounds

Nonextraneous Sounds

Cello that delivers
Andy Akiho
Sean Friar
Daniel Wohl
Alex Mincek
Tristan Perich
Mariel Roberts
Catalog Number: 
new classical
new music

Brooklyn, NY

Release Date: 
Sep 24, 2012
Liner Notes: 
1 CD
Nonextraneous SoundsiTunes Artist's PageiTunes Album Page
Song TitleTimePrice
1.Three Shades, Foreshadows10:24
3.Saint Arc08:04$0.99
One Sheet: 

At 24, Mariel Roberts has emerged as one of the most electrifying cellists on the New York scene. Her debut CD, nonextraneous sounds, is an audacious statement from a fearless musician. Where others might play it safe, Mariel tests the limits of contemporary cello technique in a group of five exhilarating solo works by New York-based composers in their late 20s and early 30s. Two are for cello alone, three incorporate electronics. Diverse in style, these pieces – all commissioned especially for Mariel – showcase her technical assurance, interpretive élan, and distinctive quicksilver tone. Regarding the title, Mariel says: “Novice listeners are sometimes made to feel extraneous by new music – they assume they can’t identify with it on a personal level. I think the cello is the perfect instrument to connect with audiences, not just because of its huge range of sound-making possibilities, but because of its very human and expressive qualities. “Each piece on this album lives in a distinct and unique sound world that is like no other. This is what I want people to know about contemporary music – that it is fantastically diverse and flexible and changing all the time… I wanted to make an album that sounds like the city I live in.” The disc opens with Andy Akiho’s punningly titled Three Shades, Foreshadows, inspired by Auguste Rodin’s sculpture “The Three Shades” – a sculpture composed of three identical bronze casts positioned so that the viewer can observe multiple perspectives simultaneously. Says Akiho, “My goal was to create a similar effect acoustically while blurring any distinction between the live performer and the three digital playback parts.” Akiho makes generous use of percussive cello sounds, including bell-like tones created by placing mini-clothespins near the base of the fingerboard. Sean Friar’s playful Teaser spotlights Mariel’s ability to turn on a stylistic dime. It “idiosyncratically leads the listener along a path filled with surprise, sleight of hand, abrupt about-faces, and mischievous reinterpretations of its own material.” Daniel Wohl derived the material of his mysterious piece Saint Arc “from very faint noises: the bow almost silently brushing against the strings, as well as the harmonics that accidentally pop out as the cellist’s hand glides across the neck of the instrument. The electronic element, which consists in prerecorded and processed cello, enhances, distorts or offers an alternate perspective on these two sounds.” Alex Mincek’s Flutter “is a piece about restless energy; mental and physical. It is constructed with a number of rapidly oscillating gestures that gradually accumulate and then pass quickly and abruptly from one to another. Overwhelming activity finally gives way to calm.” Tristan Perich’s driving, hypnotic Formations closes the disc. Perich is best known for his ingenious, self-packaged 1-Bit Music and 1-Bit Symphony. “I am interested in the threshold between the abstract world of computation and the physical world around us,” says the composer. “The simplest electronic tones can be created by sending on and off pulses of electricity to a speaker, effecting an oscillation at the desired pitch. While 1-bit sound is also the palette of aggressive electric alarm clocks, I find its primitive timbre inspiringly fresh and mysteriously organic when combined with these traditional instruments.”


“Mariel Roberts is an awesome cellist who will have a big career, I’m sure. She did a stunningly good performance of the Britten Cello Suite No. 3… She then played the notoriously difficult opening artificial-harmonics passage of the Shostakovich Piano Trio as accurately and assuredly as I’ve heard anyone do it.” – Eric Edberg (blog)

“Mariel Roberts opened the show with a signature cello sound – an articulate double-stop–that initiated a spirited momentum that would carry through the first of the show’s three segments. Roberts handled Sarah Kirkland Snider’s The Reserved, The Reticent with hardly a reservation. Her rhythmic swipes dug deep into the strings, and commanded the instrument’s full range all at once.” – Adam Cuthbert, The Glass

"Armed with a barrage of aural diversity, Roberts sets out to challenge listeners with an album that shows she has no qualms with pushing boundaries. Perich’s heavily textured Formations is more hypnotic minimal techno than contemporary classical. Akiho’s thrillingly percussive Three Shades, Foreshadows interweaves live performance with digital playbacks, rendering the cello practically unrecognizable. Other selections, like Wohl’s Saint Arc, can be downright abrasive, yet still admirable when Roberts’s technical prowess is taken into account." [FULL ARTICLE]
Sarah Hucal

“‘Formations’ by Tristan Perich [features] pure soundwaves of an aggressive nature (think alarm clock buzzer), except that Perich turns them into something almost suave, and the work offers an engaging listening arc.” [FULL ARTICLE]
Francois Couture

"In the laboratory that is new music, with its accumulation of extended techniques, there are two kinds of performers: those who play 'at' these often intractable methods, and those who organically inhabit them. Cellist Mariel Roberts spends the entirety of her outstanding debut album, Nonextraneous Sounds, in the latter category, executing demanding scores with the familiarity of a Bach cello suite. … The 'lab' is generating thrilling new specimens. Piped through the catalyst of Mariel Roberts, the results are prize-worthy." [FULL ARTICLE]
—Doyle Armbrust

“The cellist’s chops are the new-music equivalent of awesomesauce, drenching vital scores by some of today’s most stylistically nimble young composers.” Best Opera & Classical Recordings 2012 [FULL ARTICLE]
Doyle Armbrust