The later nineteenth century produced huge concert halls and symphony orchestras and pianos big enough to fill them with sound on the scale of big romantic music like Rakhmaninov’s. Andrew Violette’s Rave is not foreign to the sound world which brought into being. While the first of the twenty-six sections of Rave names “Messaien and the Sitar” and the basic musical forces here are a massive piano and one electric and one acoustic violin — doubled and echoed with electronics — the acoustic-centred music maintains an intelligible continuity with pre-1914 symphonic musical language.
Violette performs here as a pianist in the grand manner. As a composer he has plainly learned from twentieth-century musical theory, without sharing many the theoretician’s often puritanical disdain of big romantic music. Rave is an ext-rave-rt work, quite possibly danceable, but not with the same moves current on most big dancefloors in 2007. Sources of root material are indicated by terms like tarantella and such section titles as “The Lost Puccini Aria”; “Didgeridoo”. Dueling Chopin Etudes; “Country/Martial Music”, all translated into an adventurous extension of the basic big music language. Listeners with little interest in the lengthy and detailed analysis of Rave included on the CD a .pdf file can find this music valid. It’s not rebarbative or ugly or preoccupied with anything less than emotional expression for the non-specialist serious listener. It’s not tame or shallow either.