The effect was like a question so good that to answer it would defeat the purpose. “Something about the Clouds” and “Twilight Echoes” were beautiful in their inlaid chromaticism, paving the way for “A Legend,” a finale as serious as the business end of a .45. Loud, full, completely enveloping, the climax it came to was worthy of an all caps WOW.
His music is very beautiful—filled with luminous harmonic colors and memorable ideas.... This is a thoroughly appealing collection of piano music from an extremely talented composer who I will continue to follow with tremendous interest. Very enthusiastically recommended.
It’s been a sensational month for science geeks. First, the super moon, and now ‘Inside the Hubble Toolbox,’ the centerpiece of the outstanding new Portals and Passages. A collaboration between composer Ethan Wickman and pianist Nicholas Phillips, the solo piano collection presents a remarkable dialogue between Wickman’s textural prowess, and the likes of Bach and Beethoven.... This is an album of both stunning breadth and poise.
Mr. Wickman is a composer of facility and imagination, the kind to whom both performers and audiences respond.
Finally, after an angry outburst, the instruments have a moment of unity until they drift off again. This winding, mesmerizing movement [“Receding Orbits” from “Confluences”] is one of the highlights of the album.
The music here, essentially tonal, pledges allegiance to no particular ism, save for a personable eclecticism rooted in respect for tradition.... A nostalgic song by Mr. Wickman’s great-grandfather, Alfred M. Durham, provides ‘In Winter: Reverberations on a Theme’ with material for melancholy elaboration. And the frisky finale of ‘Inside the Hubble Toolbox,’ a four-part suite by turns epic and dreamy, spins out from a fleck of the Allegretto of Beethoven’s ‘Moonlight’ Sonata...
The first and third movements [of “Confluences”] bear some slight resemblance to, or at least spring from the same soil as, Stravinsky’s “Symphonies of Wind Instruments,” with its jump-cut transitions and asymmetrical and unexpected motive returns. As nearly a century has passed, those techniques are seamlessly incorporated into a piece that also employs spatial, canonical and contrapuntal devices but always with just a bit of cheek...
From Wisconsin comes this absorbing, listener friendly recording of piano works by Ethan Wickman from 2000 to 2009., Like so much contemporary music, there is a great deal of allusion and quotation, though these “portraits and passages” manage their sources in creative and engaging ways. The program includes the Bachian ‘Invention for [St.] Vincent in the Mezquita’, full of busy textures and rumbling ostinatos; the Neo-romantic: ‘Passages’ with its straightforward melody and meditative calm; the Balinese ‘Forbidden Parallels’, bursting with cascading chords and arpeggios; and the Stephen Foster-like ‘In Winter’, an intimate set of variations on a tune by the composer’s grandfather. The most ambitious work, ‘Inside the Hubble Toolbox’, is a four-movement “ever skyward” depiction of exploration....
Wickman is an accomplished composer who got the nod from the Kennedy Center to compose a tribute for the late president [JFK].
One of the finest performances on the album is of Ethan Wickman’s Occidental Psalmody. The piece takes inspiration from the geography of the West, from the ocean to the desert, as ingrained through years of road trips. Appropriately, there is a considerable amount of sweeping passagework that Phillips handles effortlessly. Wickman isn’t immune from broad, open harmonies à la Aaron Copland, but it never sounds derivative, and his writing for the piano is spectacular; I’m hard-pressed to imagine any pianist not having fun playing this.
The spiritual sublime is surprisingly close at hand in these pieces, the way that a motel room off the interstate keeps a Bible in the bedside table. Occidental Psalmody by Ethan Wickman...gaze[s] heavenward for inspiration.
Occidental Psalmody draws on the memory of long summer vacations travelling through many parts of the US to visit relatives. Two opening chords are gently developed with some beautifully conceived ideas, slowly broadening and filling as the music progresses. The music seems to evoke the vast landscapes that the composer speaks of in his booklet note, whilst moving in to take a closer look at various highlights.
American composer Ethan [Wickman] composed Summit for a group of star euphoniumists to play at the 2010 International Tuba Euphonium Conference. From it has emerged Three Expeditions, in essence a sonata demonstrating the full range of the Mead style, from abstract, polytonal Strange Departures, through Moriah - a plaintive and serene melodically-based effusion (and one of the highlights of the disc for sheer lyrical control) - and finally Olympus, which, as the composer puts it, ‘pits the player against seemingly insurmountable odds’. Steven comes through unscathed!
Ethan Wickman’s Angles of Repose combines the lyrical melodies of [Jerome] Kitzke’s piece with the momentum of [Anthony] Gatto’s Lucky Dreams. The bass clarinet is hard at work using its full range in all three movements. The twinkling ‘Angle of Displacement’ pits slowmoving melodies against quick, repeated accompaniment. ‘Angle of Acceleration’, with its short notes, whirling lines, and pulsing percussion, is a solid conclusion; but ‘Forlorn Angles’ is the most powerful of the three movements. Once the intro is complete the piano repeatedly plays a chord progression very heavily and loudly. The movement marches forward defiantly as the bass clarinet trills and steadily climbs. The tension continues to build until the piece crashes.
Ethan Wickman’s Namasté has its roots in ancient Nepalese mythology. A melancholy opening makes a feature of yearning glissandi. This is succeeded by a blustery scherzo (literally demonic in inspiration), then a warm and opulent slow movement. A passionate and subtly allusive interlude leads to the propulsive finale, which blossoms into sweek lyricism at the end. This is the most attractive new string quartet I have heard in a long while.
Ethan Wickman’s three-movement Angles of Repose works as a kind of clarinet concerto, such is the instrument’s spicy dominance in this bustling work. Especially striking is the second movement’s funeral tread contrasting with the neurotic woodwind, broken up with the final movement spiraling off into new extremes of the instrument.
Ethan Wickman’s five-movement quartet from 2008 is called Namasté and is inspired by a sequence of exotic (to most Westerners) Hindu myths. So his essentially traditional idiom is embellished with drones, slides, ornaments, ostinatos, twitterings, and other such devices meant to suggest ancient Asia and its beliefs.... the effect here is sensuous, picturesque, and virtuosic...
What we heard... was a clever, elegantly crafted and deliriously charming fantasia on one of the most recognizable melodies in the operatic canon: the aria ‘Nessun Dorma,’ from Puccini’s Turandot.... All things considered, [Wickman’s] Atomic Variations was one of the most charming, effective new pieces I’ve heard recently.... his name has been duly added to my ever-growing tally of young composers to watch.
...a flair for colorful orchestration.