Casey Crescenzo – Amour & Attrition (A Symphony in Four Movements) – 8.25/10

– Already establishing himself as one of the modern day renaissance men of music (such as Steven Wilson and Trent Reznor) because of his involvement with bands such as The Dear Hunter and The Receiving End of Sirens, Casey pushes himself by creating a 4-part symphony that comes out to about 36 minutes long. After writing the piece, Casey flew the Czech Republic so that the BRNO Orchestra could record it for him. I do not pretend to be an expert when it comes to classical music. I have some background knowledge from music classes in college, but that is the extent of my experience. So I am not the right person to ask if the four movements follow the rules or guidelines of the classic symphonies perfectly. I am not the right person to ask if the first movie follows true sonata form (I have tried to follow along to find out, but I get in the sections). All I can say, is that from one rock musician to another, I think what Casey did here is a fantastic feat that required lots of courage. It has hard to jump from one style of music to another because people who are more familiar with those styles are able to spot out the people who can really play those styles or the people who are just pretending to (such as a rock or metal guitarist trying to play jazz). Casey proved he was up to that challenge when The Dear Hunter released The Color Spectrum (a collection of 9 EPs with 4 songs on each EP). He had to switch through many different mindsets for that collection and play styles such as industrial, electronic, classic rock, alternative rock, country, pop, soul, and even carnival style music, and he did it with flying colors. Classical music is no exception. The fans are able to tell what is “true” and what is just “trying to be”. To my ears, the music in this symphony was very well crafted and constructed. “Movement 1” introduces some themes that will return throughout the symphony. It is warm and bright and probably the most beautiful (and easiest to listen to) of all the parts in my opinion. The intro reminds of “Rhapsody in Blue” by George Gershwin. There are some moments of darkness or dissonance, but they always get resolved beautifully. Some parts have some very typical melody/chord progressions of Casey and you can imagine that they would be a Dear Hunter song if a band was playing them and he was singing them. “Movement 2” is the longest of the movements (at almost 11 minutes) and goes back and forth between bright beautiful waltzes (similar to the beauty from “Movement 1” and dark bombastic circus music which is something completely new to the symphony. Moments like the latter definitely feel like they could perfectly belong in a Danny Elfman soundtrack or a Tim Burton movie. “Movement 3” continues on those dark moments from “Movement 2” and takes it to a place of more suspense and mystery. There is a lot of energy and dissonance at the beginning and the end of this movement and it makes it probably the most challenging of the four to listen to. However, the middle section does contain a quiet moment before the big finally so that listeners can catch their breath. Finally “Movement 4” starts by encompassing those dark moments of the last two movements and moving away from it. From moving through frantic, solemn, and even nostalgic melodies, it ends with a grand and beautiful melody similar to how the movement all started, bringing hope and a sense of wonder after all of those moments of darkness. To summarize, I love seeing Casey pushing himself and trying new things. This was an incredible attempt at something completely new, and as always he passed it with flying colors. Would love to see him come back to symphony writing again one day.