Author Topic: Fred Lerdahl: American Norgard?  (Read 1420 times)

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snyprrr

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Fred Lerdahl: American Norgard?
« on: November 04, 2011, 08:28:06 PM »
I just see on the GMG ticker tape that Fred Lerdahl's String Quartet Cycle is available, out of the blue. I have loved the first part, the SQ No.1, since I got that old CRI cd many years ago. It's a great organic variation SQ, of which the other two are further variations, the whole Cycle lasting an hour.

I have always wondered if Lerdahl's other music is as evocative as this first SQ (and, I presume, the other two). He has an orchestral piece called Waves on an old DG cd called 'Points of Departure', but I've never heard it.

Frankly, Lerdahl could be any number of anonymous American Composers, but I base my Thread Birth on the strength of the SQ No.1, and, as I just joyfully noticed, the first recording of the Complete Cycle.

Can I get a witness?
« Last Edit: January 07, 2012, 10:12:41 PM by snyprrr »

Offline some guy

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Re: Fred Lerdahl, Doncha Kno!
« Reply #1 on: November 05, 2011, 12:42:30 AM »
Waves is a kind of neo-Baroque thing. Phil Glass does Telemann, as it were.

snyprrr

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Re: Fred Lerdahl, Doncha Kno!
« Reply #2 on: November 05, 2011, 05:19:42 AM »
Waves is a kind of neo-Baroque thing. Phil Glass does Telemann, as it were.

Yuk! ;D

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Re: Fred Lerdahl, Doncha Kno!
« Reply #3 on: November 05, 2011, 09:54:35 AM »
I'd like to change my comparison to "it's like John Adams does Vivaldi."

Musically, that's more apt, I think.

Still "yuk," to me anyway!

snyprrr

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Re: Fred Lerdahl, Doncha Kno!
« Reply #4 on: November 05, 2011, 08:23:58 PM »
That is funny! :D

Still, I do look forward to this SQ release, and I may investigate Fred on YouTube. I do believe his discography is quite meager, so this SQ release really might be his debut into a wider audience.

Haha, just like how aging RockStars struggle to remain... nevermind ::)

snyprrr

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Re: Fred Lerdahl: American Norgard?
« Reply #5 on: January 07, 2012, 11:17:12 PM »
Fred Lerdahl

http://www.fredlerdahl.com/



Music of Fred Lerdahl Vol.3: String Quartets 1,2,&3/Daedalus Quartet (Bridge)


I am basing the Thread re-Titling on this brand new cd of Fred Lerdahl's String Quartet Cycle, which is a true Cycle in that it eats its own tail. This entire Thread is based on my love for the Julliard Quartet's CRI recording of Lerdahl's SQ No.1 (1979), a very evocative and organic creation with a permeating atmosphere and slightly Nordic disposition befitting a man named 'Lerdahl'!

I still haven't checked his actual Biography, but I certainly believe he's from the mid West...

Anyhow, what I'm so excited about is (as I was in the OP) is this new Bridge cd of Lerdahl's, basically, Complete String Quartet Cycle, String Quartets 1-3, a proposition I have eagerly awaited from the liner notes of the Julliard disc.

I began by listening again the the Julliards, who are offered with fairly tight studio acoustic that generally flatters them (which is not always the case on a CRI recording, no? (the epitome of bone dry studios)). As I listened, I could actually picture a different performance, the Julliards being perhaps a touch aggressive (and more apt in the Donald Martino).

So, I was quite eager to hear the Daedalus on this brand new Digital release. No mind you, I really like this first SQ, and here is the only new recording in 31 years, so I'm really excited and have really high expectations. And there is that first note...

And surely this performance and recording surpass their forbearers', and by a wide margin I'd say. All the rough edges of the Julliard, which I found out of character with the 'Noctural' quality of the piece, have here been turned into honey. The Daedalus revel in the sheer timbre of their instruments, from the first note on, and keep the mysterious, spiral-variation atmosphere going the entire 23 minutes.

The point of his Variation Theory, and I'm not going to go into it here, the point is it would take 3 Quartets to Complete the Cycle, and it took until 2010 (No.2 was completed in 1982, but was heavily revised after the completion of No.3 in 2008) for that dream to become a reality. Ever since I read about this in the earlier cd notes I have been expectant of this Cycle!

And so, Nos. 2-3 follow No.1 seamlessly, though here is the 'Plan': SQ 1 totals six variations, SQ 2 is two more variations, and SQ 3 by itself represents only one variation, as the 'process' has expanded to that degree by that time. These second two quartets, both sound substantially like the first, but with radical leaps in the level of virtuosity. I suppose, with the 'heightening' of the 'spirals' in the Spiral-Variation-Theory (my name), these second two quartets become ever move volcanic (and yet static too) until we arrive right back where we started in the beginning of No.1.

But I use the provocative Thread Title because I was so reminded of the energy of Norgard's SQ No.9 when listening to SQs 2-3, but of course in a totally different way. I don't really mean to say this 'sounds' like Norgard, but it really kind of does, but Lerdahl's vision is quite integrated, and everything takes on a semi-hallucinary kaliedoscopic(sic) turn. This music also slightly reminded me of Ohana's SQ No.3, a late piece that is quite free and improvisational. I also hear a bit of the rhythmic force of Xenakis's Tetras. Lerdahl has his own palette, that is sure, and uses many many good sounds along with an argument that is cumulative. I might even through in Berio's Glosse as an example.

Part of the overriding appeal of this music is the consistent use of the 'Mystery Mode' that Lerdahl employs from the opening of the first quartet onwards. It lends an almost Feldmanesque quality to this 60 minute Cycle, as Feldman preferred slightly ominous atmospheres, though I'd rather say 'mysterious'. I get the feeling of being in Luray Caverns when listening to Lerdahl's Cycle.

I hasten to say that ANYONE interested in something meaty, and attractive (and I know how provocative THAT word is!), this is American Composer Fred Lerdahl's Magnum Opus, the String Quartet Cycle 1-3. I not so sure about his other Works, and as you can see from this Thread, there's not much interest to find out, but I'm convinced that this Cycle is a Modern Masterpiece, and seeing that it quite stands apart in Lerdahl's Works, I think it's safe to say that this now becomes THE door to open to get to the heart of Lerdahl's talent. There is nothing Minimalist here, as might have been alluded to earlier in other pieces, and I can't vouch for anything other than what I heard, and I'll stake my GMG Reputation on The Usual Suspects,... AND MORE!, many many more, that you will all find this Cycle very enjoyable indeed. As I say, all the influences above came to mind (especially a kind of Norgard): Lerdahl speaks in a Universalist/Modernist language that effortlessly moves quicksilver between disparate states, evoking  a very personal and intimate interior world of boundless energy and invention.

I find myself wanting to recommend this to Karl Henning. ;)

The performance is rapturous and silky smooth, and the recording is typical of the high standards we have come to expect from this source. Since this cd is on the Ticker Tape, can we do a promotion? I would love to be responsible for seeing this cd on the Cassical Charts!