Michael Jon Fink's Celesta is a suite of a dozen quietly transcendent, gem-like celesta solos—a slowly unfolding ribbon of short pensive pieces composed over the past year and performed by the composer. The individual pieces, ranging in length from under two minutes to just over six minutes, are notable for the beautifully simple ways in which they reveal themselves through repetition and elegantly fashioned variation. The composer notes that these works “project a lyrical world of quiet intensity, bathed in the glow of delicately ringing metal.”
Taken as a whole, this collection of solos creates its own graceful musical arc, and it is certainly among the largest statements ever composed specifically for the celesta alone. (For this recording, one of Los Angeles’s finest five-octave Schiedmayer celestas was used.)
A longtime proponent of expressive solo celesta music, Fink contributed Celesta Solo (1981) to the first Cold Blue anthology in the mid-1980s (which was reissued as a CD in the early 2000s), and his solo work For Celesta, performed by Bryan Pezzone, appeared on the 2001 Cold Blue CD titled I Hear It in the Rain (CB0004).
“Twelve solo pieces for celesta are presented here, short instrumental pieces in the two- to three-minute range, with one exception. They are introspective and mysterious, covering a wide range of emotions that pull the most power and feeling out of every single note. The pieces are similar in that the presentation is simple and spacious, with the most emphasis on the melodies that wander through a surreal landscape of muted colors and soft shimmering beauty, all the while triggering feelings of joy, loneliness, mystery, wonder, and pensiveness—sometimes all within the same few measures…. Although this could have been performed on a piano, it’s the celesta, with its metallic bell-like sound that gives these pieces their unique character, existing in their own world unlike any other, beckoning listeners to completely immerse themselves. Within the stillness of the moment and intense feelings the composer brings forth, one can easily find oneself in a sort-of trance-like state that over the course of the twelve pieces begs for a repeat spin. In the process of familiarization I have found myself playing this for hours on end, each time becoming more focused on its beauty and simplicity.” —Peter Thelen, Exposé