Alex Ross has a brief review of the Eternal Music String Ensemble 70th birthday concert performance of Young's Trio for Strings ("an awesomely strange landscape of slowly shifting tone"). He also comments:
The experience wavered between the unbearable and the transcendent, coming to rest on the latter.
The same comment may also apply to the music of Philip Glass, although more often coming to rest on the former...
Young in a Music Mavericks interview:
It's interesting that even at the age of 2 or 3, I began to get an intuition about the way to create music. I didn't really start to do it until 1958, when I wrote the Trio for Strings, which is the first work in the history of music that is completely composed of long sustained tones and silences.
This reminds me of one of those Rob Kapilow lectures on why Mozart is so great:
Things are never as simple as they seem.... The next phrase of music continues elegantly...followed by an astonishing measure of complete silence.
Although I don't want to cause Fred dismay, in order to re-calibrate my ears for "legacy" music, I'm taking Hucbald's suggestion to focus on Haydn rather than Mozart. And I have yet to decide if I'll attend Kapilow's Stanford program on Copland's Appalachian Spring.
aworks american high era young: official del.icio.us wikipedia google news yahoo audio singingfish trio for strings: aworks octet version current track: and now, revelation!/rob kapilow/mozart
In a recent New York magazine, Alicia Zuckerman interviews Ricky Ian Gordon on his new song cycle, Orpheus and Euridice, written for clarinet and soprano. The composer was struggling as his partner died of AIDS and came up with a middle-of-the-night idea:
I see Todd [Palmer] as Orpheus with his clarinet, and Euridice gets a mysterious virus that steals her from him incrementally.
Gordon is currently working on an opera of The Grapes of Wrath.
|Village Voice||The production alludes to AIDS, the score is "lovely."|
|New York Blade||The composer's first line: Orpheus played his pipe, music like a cool blue stripe circling the heavens.|
|New Jersey Star-Ledger||It didn't work to have the musicians also dance.|
|Associated Press||Praise for the dancers but choreographer Doug Varone didn't take enough artistic risk.|
|The Well-Tempered Blog||It's really a ballet.|
|Playbill||Preview where the composer suggests music as a vehicle in which to "pour" strong emotions.|
|Variety||The white-on-white rather than black set is more appropriate for this modern song-cycle on death. Elizabeth Futral's voice!|
|New York Magazine||Both Gordon’s text and music are couched in an accessible idiom of disarming lyrical directness, a cleverly disguised faux naïveté that always resolves dissonant situations with grace and a sure sense of dramatic effect—the mark of a born theater composer.|
|Village Voice||Gordon's music is gentle-souled; intense passion, high fury, and deep anguish are not in his delicate vocabulary...My guess is that understatement will enable the piece to age well: As it gets revived time and again, the deep emotionality it supports is likely to become more and more visible.|
In doing a little investigation about Adams' (annoying albeit American) use of banjo in his Gnarly Buttons, I found this prognostication in a Fanfare review by Christopher Abbot:
I think Adams's true genius lies in pieces like these [Gnarly Buttons and John's Book of Alleged Dances] and Grand Pianola Music, rather than in the operas or the Chamber Symphony (the Violin Concerto is an exception -- I think that will endure).
Dunno but after the Doctor Atomic extravaganza (and a run-through of the so serious Varèse), the small-scale works sound refreshing. Moo.
Update: I'm reading Elijah Wald's Escaping the Delta: Robert Johnson and the Invention of the Blues. I never knew the banjo had West African predecessors. Wald also makes the point of how whites have romanticized blues history; we forget that rural legends like Robert Johnson were basically unknown at the time compared to more polished and professional urban black artists that still get tagged with the "country blues" label e.g. Leroy Carr. (Checking, I see that Carr doesn't even have an entry in Wikipedia. I'll start the stub). Finally, he points out classifications like classical, jazz, country, and blues only became common as a way to market records and that in the early 1900s, musicians were likely to play a variety of styles, even if they only recorded in one. This includes concert pianists who would add arrangements of say, Yankee Doodle Dandy, to their usual repertoire of European concert music. Most interestingly, Wald cites textual evidence canonical bluesman Muddy Waters, early in his career, played such pop songs as Chattanooga Choo-Choo, Deep in the Heart of Texas, and Down by the Riverside.
Three recent concert reviews touch on music beyond the 19th-century:
Steven Cornelius reviews the Toledo Symphony playing Copland etc.:
Twentieth-century music, long the bogey of classical music's mostly conservative fans, seems finally to be coming into its own, at least if last night's near sell-out audience at the Toledo Museum of Art Peristyle is any indication.
Marc Shulgold over-generalizes in reviews of Ars Nova and Jeffrey Kahane with the Colorado Symphony:
Classical music fans are creatures of habit. They like to be comfortable. They embrace the predictable and avoid the new. They're human.
Those who might anticipate the visionary, cutting-edge music of, say, Charles Ives or Henry Cowell will be disappointed. Rather, it was Beethoven, Palestrina, J.S. Bach and Boccherini whom Wright favorably commented on in his writings.
Erikson also mentions a credo written by Wright and set to music by his wife Olgivanna:
I'll live / As I'll work / As I am! / No work in fashion for sham / Nor to favor forsworn /Wear mask crest or thorn / My work as befitteth a man."
Via sequenza21, On an Overgrown Path describes an interesting BBC program where Gyorgy Ligeti picks as a favorite one of Nancarrow's Studies for Player Piano. I'll choose the slow-motion, odd gate of Study No. 5, at least in the orchestrated version by ensemble modern. Amazon has a one minute sample of 5.
The second time around (Saturday night was the last of ten San Francisco Opera performances):
Opera-goer: That's why they call it an experiment.
Spouse: You can't have everything.
I don't know if they were speaking of the opera or the country. On the whole, Doctor Atomic was a little better than the first time, even if it is not (yet) the all-encompassing transcendental art we might secretly hope for.
Via tingilinde, Apple and Stanford University combine to present Stanford on iTunes. From the link, click on Open Stanford on iTunes, then from iTunes click on Music, click on the Concerts tab and finally, click on the Get Tracks button. Voila, thirty free downloads of concert music presented at Stanford for the Daniel Pearl concerts including tracks by Mark Applebaum, Virgil Thomson, Mozart et al:
Stanford on iTunes provides university-related audio content via the iTunes Music Store, Apple’s popular music jukebox and online music store. Stanford on iTunes gives alumni and the general public free access to a wide range of Stanford-specific digital audio content.
Only one Stanford Marching Band track though (and it was sedate)...
Slight listening tonight: a slightly sinister North by Northwest by Bernard Herrmann, a slightly precise Chanticleer performance of William Billing's David's Lamentation and a slightly incisive Aspen Quartet by Burt Goldstein.
Art of the States streams a slightly rural version of David's Lamentation.