The Violin Channel recently sat down for a conversation with Paul Wiancko and VC Artist Alexi Kenney about the work.
Wiancko was influenced not only by his favorite solo instrumental music, like that of Bach, Kodaly, Bartok, but also of folk music and chamber music.
As his first piece for solo violin, Wiancko used the form of a "pseudo-suite." Originally 40 minutes of music, the composer cut a lot of the music, which will possibly be used for an "X Suite Two" in the future.
"You wouldn’t know it while playing or listening to the piece, but there are a lot of ideas on top of ideas, which is partly how the name 'X' came about for the suite," Wiancko said. "I was inspired by the old way of crossing things out like on a typewriter before we had delete keys — just to go back and type “X” over each letter so you can actually see the underlying mistake. It still exists, just with an X over it.
"I thought it would be an interesting challenge to see how many voices or individual characters or separate entities that you can cram into one performer of one instrument. And it turns out it’s a lot. Alexi is doing things that I’ve never heard anyone do before, like playing basically eight different parts by himself.
While discussing the piece, performer Alexi Kenney shared, "I feel like this piece uses techniques that I haven’t seen before, and generally gives off a larger-than-life image to the audience. It seems to really transcend just one violin, and I think that’s what all the great ones do."
The accompanying video pairs "X Suite" with seven contemporary sculptures, many of which have reflective surfaces, patterns, and lots of interesting abstraction.
"I think it was a beautiful idea to perform these in and among sculptures," Paul said. "I think it makes perfect sense for the music, and as a composer, I think about sculpture and architecture all the time. My fundamental approach to composing is almost based on sculpture, I would say."
VC ARTIST ALEXI KENNEY | PAUL WIANCKO | X SUITE | 2021