The suite incorporates numerous sound-effects on the guitar to paint images: the so-called 'snare drum' effect, for example, created by holding down crossed B and E (or low-E and A)strings with the left hand, to imitate the drums of toy soldiers. Other extended techniques include scraping the strings with the fingernails; a large variety of percussive effects; 'playing' the strings between the tuning heads and nut, similar to the 3rd bridge technique, or the knotted sections of the strings on the bridge; 'hammer-ons', where the left hand fingers suddenly depress the string against the fingerboard without the intervention of the right hand; and so on. Koshkin's most celebrated guitar work is Usher-Waltz, a piece inspired by the Edgar Allan Poe story The Fall of the House of Usher. Cast in a single movement, it is a motoric waltz whose careering harmonic progression around A minor threatens, and ultimately succeeds, in tearing the music apart. Its climax is an extraordinarily effective sequence of pounded right-hand chords, 'Bartok pizzicato' (where the strings are deliberately snapped back against the fingerboard), and then ghostly harmonics.
Like much of Koshkin's work it has an immediate appeal to a wide audience who are both astonished at the visceral impact of the piece, and at the range of sounds coaxed from the guitar, which sounds "bigger than it really is". His set of variations The Porcelain Tower is another substantial and rewarding work for listeners, and for players of good intermediate or advanced standard. Read more on Last.fm. User-contributed text is available under the Creative Commons By-SA License; additional terms may apply..
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