Majdalany’s “Soliloquy of Eden”

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MAJDELANY: Soliloquy of Eden, a Suite in 5 Movements / Judy Kang, cello / private issue, no number

Los Angeles-based composer Nadeem Majdelany, who received his degree at the Berklee College of Music, presents here a five-movement piece based on cosmic reverberations, steadfast warriors and the threshold of life and death, none of which really means anything in terms of just listening to the music, which fortunately is interesting enough to rise above the New Age philosophy.

Majdalany’s music is simultaneously lyrical-tonal and modern-edgy, alternating between these two worlds to create a fascinating tapestry of sound. Judy Kang, our solo cellist, has an exceptionally rich, warm tone, yet can negotiate the sometimes strange demands that Majdelany puts on her, including distorted notes, bouncing the bow off the strings and other such devices. What I particularly liked about the music, however, was the fact that none of these modern devices sounds forced or precious; they are simply elements in the ongoing cello monologue that is this fascinating suite.

Nonetheless, it is precisely these edgy moments that keep the score from sounding too much like New Age pap. For the most part, Majdelany’s music is slow-moving and does not have a strong sense of structure per se, but that isn’t important. The important thing is that every note and phrase captures your attention and holds it. In the third piece, “Memories Keep Time Awake,” the slow pizzicato progression of notes almost sounds like the slow ticking of a clock in an atonal manner. Majdelany’s text for this movement in the liner notes runs like this:

Now is the time of release. Old habits must depart
for new opportunities to be welcomed. The heart is open,
and now the stage must be set for growth…

This is how you set boundaries; this is how you love.
This is how you create the stage for a new person;
and this person will love your home and help you decorate.

By contrast, the fourth movement, “Mystic Magenta Tree,” presents more lyrical melodic lines with edgy bowing amidst them. There is also a rising, slow chromatic passage that simulates the growth of a tree, balanced later on in the piece by one descending chromatic glissando.

This rather short suite ends with “Harmonious Hominem Fountain Fortuna,” which consists primarily of long, slow chords in thirds played on the cello, but yet again it is the departures from this structure that are interesting.

It’s rather a pity that this short but fascinating work, released by the composer and available HERE, will undoubtedly fly under the radar of most listeners. It is indeed a fascinating work, worthy of serious listening. It is sincere music without gimmicks, written without pandering to mass listening tastes.

—© 2020 Lynn René Bayley

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