Author Topic: "New" Music Log  (Read 95378 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

Offline Brian

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • *
  • Posts: 20949
    • Brian's blog
Re: "New" Music Log
« Reply #280 on: May 27, 2016, 11:21:33 AM »
Somehow the idea of hearing Gershwin on the harp is more than I think I can handle (though he might be interesting on a quartet of contrabassoons), so I'll leave it to you. But as for my own pick, much as I love the Marenzio, I wish I had changed that to the Shapero Symphony or Meyer Kupferman's Little Symphony. Or for that matter the thrilling "Caressant l'Horizon" by the young Catalan composer Hèctor Parra. Make of that what you will.
I listened to the Shapero Symphony a few weeks ago, but did not connect with it on that first listen.

Today I'll skip over the nominations of Schmitt and Henning, because these aren't "new" works to my ears. Well, I might listen anyways, but not to write a tome about...  8)

From Dancing Divertimentian: Britten's cello sonata



I liked this. I don't have much to say about it, honestly, but I liked it. The list of Britten I like is maybe shorter than it ought to be (Simple Symphony, Grimes, cello suites, piano concerto, Carols) but this will have a spot on the list too, now.

Now it's Mirror Image's turn:



The first movement seems to be an attempt to write a "vivace" movement that's as quiet as possible. Its mood is kind of dithery: emotionally ambiguous, not ready to commit to a mood, which seems to be a common Arnold thread. Another common thread in the Arnold symphonies I've heard (now 1-4 and 9): I just don't get them. The third movement here is called "Giubiloso," which is a lie, because like most of the Arnold I've heard, it's mostly melancholy and bitter about some unspecified hurt. Maybe he was just depressed.

I loved my first listen to the Arnold guitar concerto, and of course the folk dances are a lot of fun. But so far the symphonies have defeated me continuously. The only movement of the Ninth that makes sense to me, the only movement that seems successful, is the finale, a lento lamento that stretches to 23 minutes but somehow doesn't feel as glacial as it is. Although it does feel derivative; essentially, it's the last 4 minutes of Tchaikovsky's Sixth [which gets quoted-ish at 12:30 and again near the end], or the last 4 minutes of the first movement of Shosty's Sixth, stretched out to six times the length. This is not to doubt Arnold's sincerity! He is sincere as hell. But there's not much in the first three movements that impels me to return, compared to the two works cited above, or, say, Bruckner's Ninth. Not sure of my feelings about the re-entry of the percussion and woodwinds at the end of the symphony.



Marenzio. Fear not, Sfz, I also listened to the Deller Consort version. This is almost unbearably gorgeous music - so beautiful. I'm struck by the fragility/vulnerability of the voices at the start of the Deller performance; I'm also struck by how "new" the music sounds. Well, it doesn't sound like it was written yesterday, but in places (and in the Deller version moreso) it sure doesn't sound 425 years old.

I really, really need to learn more about this kind of music, being essentially 100% clueless on it.



The main thing that this journey through the "One work that you'd like fellow GMGers to discover" thread has taught me is just how crazy-diverse our tastes are. There's a GMGer interested in everything. Schoeck's Elegie is a Mahlerian song cycle, but with a tiny chamber ensemble of what sounds like a dozen players, instead of an orchestra. The longest song is 4 minutes long; many are 60-70 seconds. There's a lot of variety and I love the lullaby-ish ending. As so often with these two days of listening, the piece has been well outside my comfort zone but rewarding, or at least diverting. Guess I need to keep exploring!

(Schoeck is a good composer; I've admired some of his chamber music for a few years.)

Ken B's nominee:



Now, this is a genre of music that I know diddly squat about. Nada. Zip. So my impressions are spectacularly ill-informed things like (a) it's pretty, (b) it feels kinda long, (c) damn, it takes these guys a LONG time to finish saying the word "Kyrie"!

Bizarre to think about the huge timespan between Machaut and Marenzio. It's roughly the same as the timespan between us and Beethoven's First Symphony.

The last adventure for this week, cuz I'm gonna need to close my listening on some kind of Old Favorite after all these ear workouts:



Hovhaness's Symphony No. 50 "Mount St. Helens"
Best to think of this as a set of symphonic poems, maybe, atmosphere pieces rather than examples of tight development. The music is consistently old-fashionedly tonal, "attractive" (ugh. does that word mean anything?), and intermittently even catchy. The volcano interruption is depicted mostly by timpani, timpani, brass fanfares, and also timpani. It's fun! A goofy low-calorie dessert symphony before the weekend arrives.

Still, before the weekend proper, I think I need a right proper symphony - something bracing, icy-cold, stripped down to the bare bones of strict classical form. Something ferocious but tautly controlled, catchy but uncompromising. Something that I might nominate for the title of "One work that you'd like fellow GMGers to discover", if I had to choose.

Something like J.W. Kalliwoda's Fifth Symphony. See y'all later  8) 8) 8)
« Last Edit: May 27, 2016, 11:23:23 AM by Brian »

Offline (poco) Sforzando

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • Posts: 5584
  • Location: Long Island, NY
Re: "New" Music Log
« Reply #281 on: May 27, 2016, 03:57:08 PM »
I listened to the Shapero Symphony a few weeks ago, but did not connect with it on that first listen.

Then please keep trying. But the Bernstein, not the Previn.
"I don't know what sforzando means, though it clearly means something."

Offline Mirror Image

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • Posts: 46534
  • Claude Debussy (1862 - 1918)
  • Location: Northeast GA, US
  • Currently Listening to:
    ...Mist floating above the water...
Re: "New" Music Log
« Reply #282 on: May 27, 2016, 04:02:39 PM »
Now it's Mirror Image's turn:



The first movement seems to be an attempt to write a "vivace" movement that's as quiet as possible. Its mood is kind of dithery: emotionally ambiguous, not ready to commit to a mood, which seems to be a common Arnold thread. Another common thread in the Arnold symphonies I've heard (now 1-4 and 9): I just don't get them. The third movement here is called "Giubiloso," which is a lie, because like most of the Arnold I've heard, it's mostly melancholy and bitter about some unspecified hurt. Maybe he was just depressed.

I loved my first listen to the Arnold guitar concerto, and of course the folk dances are a lot of fun. But so far the symphonies have defeated me continuously. The only movement of the Ninth that makes sense to me, the only movement that seems successful, is the finale, a lento lamento that stretches to 23 minutes but somehow doesn't feel as glacial as it is. Although it does feel derivative; essentially, it's the last 4 minutes of Tchaikovsky's Sixth [which gets quoted-ish at 12:30 and again near the end], or the last 4 minutes of the first movement of Shosty's Sixth, stretched out to six times the length. This is not to doubt Arnold's sincerity! He is sincere as hell. But there's not much in the first three movements that impels me to return, compared to the two works cited above, or, say, Bruckner's Ninth. Not sure of my feelings about the re-entry of the percussion and woodwinds at the end of the symphony.

Arnold's 9th, for those not familiar with his musical language, can be a tough nut to crack, but there's, of course, always the possibility that you just don't like the music, which is completely understandable. Personally, I think the whole symphony is successful and it's my favorite symphonic utterance from this quite well-known Brit. Sometimes we have to look past the flaws in the writing (whatever those may actually be to a given listener) and accept the music as it is. (Sorry to end the last sentence on a preposition, but I just couldn't help it.) ;)
« Last Edit: May 27, 2016, 04:04:16 PM by Mirror Image »
“Works of art make rules; rules do not make works of art.” - Claude Debussy

Offline (poco) Sforzando

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • Posts: 5584
  • Location: Long Island, NY
Re: "New" Music Log
« Reply #283 on: May 27, 2016, 04:22:49 PM »
Now, this is a genre of music that I know diddly squat about. Nada. Zip. So my impressions are spectacularly ill-informed things like (a) it's pretty, (b) it feels kinda long, (c) damn, it takes these guys a LONG time to finish saying the word "Kyrie"!

a) I think you will find the Deller Consort again (though not HIP) takes a far more vital approach, along with their motets by Perotin. But please stay away from the Peres, which is downright ugly.
b) Half an hour?
c) No different in essence than in the masses of Bach, Mozart, Haydn, or Beethoven. The 3-part structure (Kyrie eleison, Christe eleison, Kyrie eleison) is standard, as a reflection of the Trinity.
« Last Edit: May 28, 2016, 05:14:32 AM by (poco) Sforzando »
"I don't know what sforzando means, though it clearly means something."

Offline (poco) Sforzando

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • Posts: 5584
  • Location: Long Island, NY
Re: "New" Music Log
« Reply #284 on: May 27, 2016, 04:26:36 PM »
(Sorry to end the last sentence on a preposition, but I just couldn't help it.) ;)

But you did not. You ended it on a form of the verb "to be." Which is nothing, in my opinion, to worry about.
"I don't know what sforzando means, though it clearly means something."

Offline Ken B

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • Posts: 4673
  • The Age of the Wanker is upon us
    • kenBlogic
  • Location: Canada
  • Currently Listening to:
    Canoes not battleships.
Re: "New" Music Log
« Reply #285 on: May 27, 2016, 04:27:59 PM »
Marenzio is quite wonderful. Almost no one has heard of him.

Machaut is passing strange. When I first heard it it sounded like an assault from another universe. I like the sense that this is both my culture and as remote from it as can be imagined, at the same time.  It's the first complete mass we have actually, and some of the earliest polyphony. Originality on an epochal scale.

Give a man a fire and he is warm for a day. Set a man on fire and he is warm for life.

Offline Mirror Image

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • Posts: 46534
  • Claude Debussy (1862 - 1918)
  • Location: Northeast GA, US
  • Currently Listening to:
    ...Mist floating above the water...
Re: "New" Music Log
« Reply #286 on: May 27, 2016, 04:38:41 PM »
But you did not. You ended it on a form of the verb "to be." Which is nothing, in my opinion, to worry about.

Whew...that was a close one. ;D
“Works of art make rules; rules do not make works of art.” - Claude Debussy

Offline Dancing Divertimentian

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • Posts: 5981
  • Posts: who's counting?
  • Currently Listening to:
    probably something somebody somewhere is snickering at...wait, Schoenberg! Definitely Schoenberg! (And, let's see, does he have a disciple or two...)...
Re: "New" Music Log
« Reply #287 on: May 27, 2016, 04:48:20 PM »
From Dancing Divertimentian: Britten's cello sonata



I liked this. I don't have much to say about it, honestly, but I liked it. The list of Britten I like is maybe shorter than it ought to be (Simple Symphony, Grimes, cello suites, piano concerto, Carols) but this will have a spot on the list too, now.

Cool, Brian! Glad it worked out.


Veit Bach-a baker who found his greatest pleasure in a little cittern which he took with him even into the mill and played while the grinding was going on. In this way he had a chance to have the rhythm drilled into him. And this was the beginning of a musical inclination in his descendants. JS Bach

Offline (poco) Sforzando

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • Posts: 5584
  • Location: Long Island, NY
Re: "New" Music Log
« Reply #288 on: May 27, 2016, 04:58:54 PM »
Whew...that was a close one. ;D

Nothing wrong with ending sentences with prepositions, split infinitives, or other such phony rules. Professional writers do such things all the time. Use what sounds right to your ear.

http://blog.oxforddictionaries.com/2011/11/grammar-myths-prepositions/
"I don't know what sforzando means, though it clearly means something."

Offline Ken B

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • Posts: 4673
  • The Age of the Wanker is upon us
    • kenBlogic
  • Location: Canada
  • Currently Listening to:
    Canoes not battleships.
Re: "New" Music Log
« Reply #289 on: May 27, 2016, 05:03:57 PM »
Nothing wrong with ending sentences with prepositions, split infinitives, or other such phony rules. Professional writers do such things all the time. Use what sounds right to your ear.

http://blog.oxforddictionaries.com/2011/11/grammar-myths-prepositions/

The split infinitive prohibition is especially foolish, being deduced from a study of Latin and applied to English!

Ending a sentence with a split preposition is bad though.
Give a man a fire and he is warm for a day. Set a man on fire and he is warm for life.

Offline Brian

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • *
  • Posts: 20949
    • Brian's blog
Re: "New" Music Log
« Reply #290 on: May 27, 2016, 05:28:11 PM »
The split infinitive prohibition is especially foolish, being deduced from a study of Latin and applied to English!

Ending a sentence with a split preposition is bad though.
Hm, a split preposition. Like "anyfreakingwhere"?

Nothing wrong with ending sentences with prepositions, split infinitives, or other such phony rules. Professional writers do such things all the time. Use what sounds right to your ear.

http://blog.oxforddictionaries.com/2011/11/grammar-myths-prepositions/
This. The split infinitive, ending with preposition stuff is myths propagated by domineering language teachers.

c) No different in essence than in the masses of Bach, Mozart, Haydn, or Beethoven. The 3-part structure (Kyrie eleison, Christe eleison, Kyrie eleison) is standard, as a reflection of the Trinity.
This is true! But often Mozart, Haydn, etc. seem to achieve this by repetition of the words, rather than stretching each syllable out to 45 seconds  ;D ;D

Then please keep trying. But the Bernstein, not the Previn.
The Bernstein is what I have (the gigantic box set).

Offline (poco) Sforzando

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • Posts: 5584
  • Location: Long Island, NY
Re: "New" Music Log
« Reply #291 on: May 27, 2016, 06:24:01 PM »
Hm, a split preposition. Like "anyfreakingwhere"?

That's a split adverb . . . . "Beyoncétween" or "underwearneath" would be split prepositions.

This is true! But often Mozart, Haydn, etc. seem to achieve this by repetition of the words, rather than stretching each syllable out to 45 seconds  ;D ;D

Be glad it's not 46.
"I don't know what sforzando means, though it clearly means something."

Offline (poco) Sforzando

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • Posts: 5584
  • Location: Long Island, NY
Re: "New" Music Log
« Reply #292 on: May 27, 2016, 06:42:56 PM »
Somehow the idea of hearing Gershwin on the harp is more than I think I can handle (though he might be interesting on a quartet of contrabassoons), so I'll leave it to you. But as for my own pick, much as I love the Marenzio, I wish I had changed that to the Shapero Symphony or Meyer Kupferman's Little Symphony. Or for that matter the thrilling "Caressant l'Horizon" by the young Catalan composer Hèctor Parra. Make of that what you will.

This is the Kupferman I'd like people to know:
http://www.classical.net/music/recs/reviews/s/ssp00119a.php

The reviewer is I think unjustly harsh, but it's a delightful piece, a kind of American counterpart to Prokofiev's Classic Symphony. I spoke with Kupferman briefly while I was in high school, and he said of the performance either that he liked the strings but not the winds, or he liked the winds but not the strings, I can't remember which. But he's a very good composer even though his name ends with an N.
"I don't know what sforzando means, though it clearly means something."

Offline Ken B

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • Posts: 4673
  • The Age of the Wanker is upon us
    • kenBlogic
  • Location: Canada
  • Currently Listening to:
    Canoes not battleships.
Re: "New" Music Log
« Reply #293 on: May 28, 2016, 05:11:33 AM »
We need a new thread: Melismata: The Ultimate Evil
Give a man a fire and he is warm for a day. Set a man on fire and he is warm for life.

Offline Brian

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • *
  • Posts: 20949
    • Brian's blog
Re: "New" Music Log
« Reply #294 on: January 30, 2017, 07:53:54 AM »


After very much enjoying two piano works by Adam Schoenberg, Picture Etudes and Bounce, on a recital a couple of years ago, I looked forward to his first orchestral album with great anticipation. The piano works suggested a composer with organizational skills, a deep understanding of music history, and a sense of fun.

Unfortunately, this new disc is pure cheese. Sidebar: since when is cheese an insult? Cheese is delicious. Few things on earth are better than cheese. In terms of "insults that are actually compliments," cheese has gotta rank way high up there. Imagine if we said music was "pure chocolate" but meant it denigratingly.

Anyway, I do mean to denigrate this disc. What's a better term than cheese? Hmm. Schlock. Puffballs. The American Symphony, composed after Obama got elected with stupid platitudes from the composer ("I was excited about ushering in this new era in our nation’s history, and for the first time, I truly understood what it meant to be American." maybe there's a reason he's not an author), is so naive and treacly that Donald Trump's election, I hope, will erase it off the face of the earth. It might be Trump's most positive legacy. Lacking any kind of spine, and with the flat, undynamic engineering making it seem even more pasty-white, the piece reflects Young Schoenberg's studies with Corigliano and his respect for names like Copland and Glass, but without any sense of the longform structures any of them might have used to write a symphony.

"Finding Rothko" is better, including an aleatoric movement (!) that remains tenuously connected to old-school tonality, but it has a lot more in common with Jennifer Higdon's populist orchestral concert openers, rather than, say, "Rothko Chapel".

"Picture Studies" is the newest and most advanced work here, a response to a Kansas City Symphony commission for a "21st century Pictures at an Exhibition". The promenade is not gonna win anybody over - it sounds like the soundtrack to an indie Hollywood weepie starring Meryl Streep as a cancer-stricken matriarch - but there are some legitimately fun, descriptive movements describing various artists, including Kandinsky, Calder, and Miró. In place of The Great Gate of Kiev, though, we get Pigeons in Flight, which I think pretty much summarizes the relation of young Adam's orchestral music to the predecessors by whom he is so clearly inspired. Harsh, I know. This one disappointed me.

Offline Brian

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • *
  • Posts: 20949
    • Brian's blog
Re: "New" Music Log
« Reply #295 on: January 31, 2017, 11:14:23 AM »


American Contemporary Music Ensemble presents:

Caleb Burhans - "Jahrzeit"

A plaintive work for string quartet written in memory of the composer's father (Jahrzeit is a time for remembering the dead and reciting the Kaddish), this has the sort of open harmonies and earnest melodic feeling that are commonly associated with American "folk" populist composers (see: Schickele writing under his own name). In the first few minutes, the piece threatens to get cloying, but eventually Burhans reveals a sort of progressive minimalism in which the music slowly moves downward in register to the end. A complex piece built to sound simple; time will tell if it rewards repeated listening, but it may well not.

Caroline Shaw - "In manus tuas"

That Caroline Shaw is a goddamned supergenius will never be in doubt, thanks to her amazing grab-you-by-the-ears-and-throw-you-into-the-next-century "Partita for Eight Voices," which might maybe be my favorite classical piece composed in my lifetime. "In manus tuas" is for solo cello, which forces her away from her greatest strength - hyperimaginative counterpoint and "conversation" - towards a style that evokes Bach and Tallis. This ain't the mindblowing earsplosion of "Partita", but it's a respectable little piece.

Caroline Shaw - "Gustave Le Gray"

Inspired by Chopin's mazurka Op 17 No 4 in A minor. This is both good news - that's one of the most extraordinary piano pieces ever - and bad news - let's face it, pieces "inspired by" and "translating" great masterworks are almost always less interesting than the original. (How many counterexamples are there, really? Variations don't count. Hindemith's Metamorphoses? Finale of Brahms Symphony No. 4?) Well, anyway, the same is true here. Lots of repeated notes, an extended direct quote of the intro in the middle of Shaw's rewrite, some more repetition. After 6:00 we finally get some of that Caroline Shaw goodness: the misdirection as to where a musical line is going, the restless addition of new motifs and rhythms. The piece feels like it was improvised by a great improviser who needed a few minutes to figure out what she wanted to do, but left the warmups in along with the "real" work.

Timo Andres - "Thrive on Routine"

This one's inspired by Charles Ives's morning routine of farming potatoes and practicing Bach. There's a movement called "Potatoes". As usual with the silliest contemporary composer "inspirations", it's best to ignore the movement titles rather than wondering what potatoes sound like, or why Ives's "morning" starts with such loud shrill notes (alarm clock?). I actually enjoyed most of this, to be honest. It's a little generic "American conservatory c. 2010," but it's not bad.

John Luther Adams - "In a Treeless Place, Only Snow"

Great title. Great pairing of two vibraphones, celesta, and string quartet. Like all of the John Luther Adams I've heard, this is basically a very slow, slow-moving, meditative minimalist piece. It's pretty, very well-scored for the various instruments, and knows when to adjust the dial to generate a little change (the piano moves in and out like a dream-dancer). But, as with all of the John Luther Adams I've heard, it's just too damn long. At 11 minutes, the piece would be very good; at 17, it's...

A disc of interesting listens, I'll say. I don't regret hearing any of them. But I do plan to return to Caroline Shaw's "Partita" immediately.

Offline k a rl h e nn i ng

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • *
  • Posts: 52309
  • Et quid amabo nisi quod ænigma est?
    • Henningmusick
  • Location: Boston, Mass.
  • Currently Listening to:
    Shostakovich, Frescobaldi, Stravinsky, JS Bach, Liszt, Chopin, Haydn, Henning
Re: "New" Music Log
« Reply #296 on: January 31, 2017, 11:21:43 AM »
John Luther Adams - "In a Treeless Place, Only Snow"

Great title. Great pairing of two vibraphones, celesta, and string quartet. Like all of the John Luther Adams I've heard, this is basically a very slow, slow-moving, meditative minimalist piece. It's pretty, very well-scored for the various instruments, and knows when to adjust the dial to generate a little change (the piano moves in and out like a dream-dancer). But, as with all of the John Luther Adams I've heard, it's just too damn long. At 11 minutes, the piece would be very good; at 17, it's...

Interesting, thanks.
Karl Henning, Ph.D.
Composer & Clarinetist
Boston MA
http://www.karlhenning.com/
[Matisse] was interested neither in fending off opposition,
nor in competing for the favor of wayward friends.
His only competition was with himself. — Françoise Gilot

Offline Todd

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • Posts: 16724
Re: "New" Music Log
« Reply #297 on: February 25, 2017, 07:06:42 AM »



My first full disc devoted solely to the music of Fanny Mendelssohn-Hensel, and my first disc played entirely by Lauma Skride, regular accompanist of her more famous sister.  The work was composed after a trip through Italy, rather like Liszt was inspired to write his second year of his Annees, and her music and style is very much of the time and place.  To be sure, the music is not of the same caliber of Liszt's masterpiece, but then I had no expectation that it would be.  It is generally a bit more intimate in scale, though it is not limited to being a set of salon pieces.  There are some sunny, vibrant passages, but there are also some darker, more introspective passages.  It is not surprising that one can hear the influence of her younger brother from time to time, with A Midsummer's Night Dream making an appearance a couple times, and a few passages sound rather like some Lieder Ohne Worte.  Mendelssohn-Hensel does have her own voice, and it is in that introspection mentioned before that one hears it most.  This is some fine music, and I wouldn't be averse to hearing another version of, especially from a very interventionist pianist.

Skride does an excellent job.  Her style is often very straight-forward, and her tone is generally pleasant, but she does not go in for histrionics.

Sound is excellent, as what one would expect from a major label release ca 2007.
The universe is change; life is opinion. - Marcus Aurelius, Meditations

Everything dies - Alien Bounty Hunter, The X-Files

Everyone dies - William Barr, United States Attorney General

Offline Todd

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • Posts: 16724
Re: "New" Music Log
« Reply #298 on: February 28, 2017, 07:20:45 AM »



I enjoy Sofia Gubaidulina's music from time to time, and I have sampled her work in a variety of genres - orchestral, choral, chamber, even accordion - but until now, I had never tried her piano music.  Marcela Roggeri recorded all of Gubaidulina's piano music, written in the 60s and 70s, in 2007 for Transart.  There's a Chaconne, Musical Toys, the Sonata, a Toccata-Troncata, and the Invention.  One can hear bits of Shostakovich and Ligeti in her writing, along with a healthy dollop of Bartok (especially in the Sonata), and an even healthier dollop of Prokofiev (in Musical Toys).  The mysticism and uncentered nature of some of her bigger works is not as evident here; the music tends to be more pointed.  The Chaconne and collection of miniatures Musical Toys are compact and Roggeri plays with great vigor and force, while never sounding unduly harsh.  The more substantial Sonata, complete with strings damped on the fly by hand and a bamboo stick dragged across the piano pegs, mixes quasi- or pseudo-folk elements, Prokofievian modernism, and jazz to good effect.  The short Toccata-Troncata, and especially the Invention, are tossed off with aplomb, the latter sounding somewhat improvisational in nature.

Roggeri acquits herself quite nicely here, and though I doubt these works ever achieve core rep listening frequency for me, I will be returning to this disc.  I may even opt to try another of the handful of discs out there devoted to the music.

Sound is close and clear, as usual with Transart, but there is a bit more weight here.
The universe is change; life is opinion. - Marcus Aurelius, Meditations

Everything dies - Alien Bounty Hunter, The X-Files

Everyone dies - William Barr, United States Attorney General

Offline Todd

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • Posts: 16724
Re: "New" Music Log
« Reply #299 on: May 30, 2017, 04:28:20 AM »



It has been a good long while since I last bought a new disc of Leonardo Balada's music, and since this ditty was available for five bucks, I snapped it up.  It contains five works composed between 1962 and 2010, with most penned in the 70s.  That means it covers all of Balada's compositional styles.  Per usual in this series, the composer's notes definitively explain what he wanted to do with each work. 

The disc opens with the Cumbres, from 1971, an avant-garde period work that explores the high reaches of most of the instruments in the ensemble and blends the instruments to create "electronic" effects.  It is not unlike some of Ligeti's music in some regards, and its brief length means the music does not overstay it welcome.  Next is the Concerto for Piano, Winds, and Percussion, from 1973.  The opening sounds light and fun, in an avant garde way, and obviously evokes Stravinsky.  (The composer also mentions Poulenc.)  The single movement work more or less conforms to a fast-slow-fast style, and the second, slow portion is a bit more relaxed much of the time before reverting to a very Bartok First Piano Concerto style ending.  Again, Balada keeps the length of the piece just right for the music.  Listeners open to avant garde stylings are left wanting more.  The Concerto for Cello and Nine Players from 1962/1967 is from Balada's neo-classical style, and again Stravinsky is the first name that comes to mind.  That's not to say the work is derivative, just that it's stylistically similar to some Stravinsky.  The music's rythmic incisiveness and lean textures are most compelling, and the cello writing sounds daunting for the soloist and thrilling for the listener.  Next comes the Viola Concerto from 2010, which means it is avant garde infused with folk elements, though the folk elements are not always especially obvious to people unfamiliar with the source material.  What is obvious is that Balada like to explore the high registers of the viola here, and both the solo part and the orchestral accompaniment demand highly skilled players.  While not tuneful in the Mendelssohn or Tchaikovsky manner, it harks back to an extent to some string concertos from the first half of the 20th Century.  Given the paucity of concertos for the viola, I would think this would be taken up readily by violists, and it deserves a wide audience; it's some of the good stuff.  The disc closes with Sonata for Ten Winds from 1979.  Works for winds alone aren't generally my thing, so when I write that Balada's piece has some nice ideas and music in it but doesn't really work for me, that's down to my tastes.  Fans of wind ensembles may very well find a lot to love here.

Sound is immediate and clear, and performances are all excellent.  Another peach of a disc of Balada's music.
The universe is change; life is opinion. - Marcus Aurelius, Meditations

Everything dies - Alien Bounty Hunter, The X-Files

Everyone dies - William Barr, United States Attorney General