Author Topic: "New" Music Log  (Read 93718 times)

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Offline Brian

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Re: "New" Music Log
« Reply #240 on: March 02, 2013, 02:41:28 PM »
As good as the music is, probably the bigger thing here for me is the discovery of violinist Antal Szalai.

Whoa whoa whoa. Any chance his biography mentions coming from a musical family? I saw an older violinist named Antal Szalai "and His Gypsy Band" playing at a Hungarian nightclub in Sydney, Australia a few years ago. Yes, that's a very peculiar combination - there's a Hungarian nightclub in Australia, and I was at it - but Antal Szalai was quite good and I wouldn't be surprised if there was a connection between the two. As opposed to there being two classically-trained Hungarian violinists named Antal Szalai a generation apart.

Naturally, the cembalom (dulcimer) player did a song blindfolded and the evening ended in crazy old Hungarian ladies trying to dance with the clarinetist as everybody drank and sang their favorite folk-tunes in unintentionally Ivesian fashion.


Offline Todd

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Re: "New" Music Log
« Reply #241 on: March 02, 2013, 03:21:56 PM »
Any chance his biography mentions coming from a musical family?


No, and the English Wikipedia page doesn't mention it, either, though that doesn't really mean a whole lot.  Whatever the case may be, the younger Mr Szalai (he's 32) is pretty darned good.
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Offline Todd

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Re: "New" Music Log
« Reply #242 on: April 05, 2013, 12:37:41 PM »




Got a couple listens to this under my belt, and well, it is a different type of disc. 

The first work, a piano concerto entitled Echoing Curves, is played here by Andrea Lucchesini, a master of Berio’s idiom, and conducted by the composer himself.  This is the reason I bought the disc: I wanted to hear how Lucchesini handled the concerto given how well he does in the solo stuff.  Well, as expected, he doesn’t seem to have any problems navigating the music, but truthfully, I find the music less compelling than the solo stuff.  The piano part is given over to lots of trills and ostinato underpinning occasional flourishes, and the orchestral music is very modern, in a disappointingly generic way.  Sure, it’s well crafted, etc, but it just doesn’t work for me.  I don’t dislike it, but I don’t like it, either.  Meh.

Turns out the next work was the real reason to get the disc, because haven’t you asked yourself what Schubert’s Tenth Symphony might have sounded like?  You see, Berio took the sketches for D936a and, in his word, set out to “restore” it.  (Restoration, completion; po-tay-to, po-tah-to.)  The work is called Rendering.  For the most part this sounds just like a missing Schubert work, and a very substantial one, hinting at what might have been.  It is grand, larger in scope and ambition than even the Great C Major, lovely, and filled with tunes aplenty.  It also starts moving toward a Mendelssohnian and, dare I say it, even (early) Wagnerian type soundworld.  There are obviously gaps, which Berio backfills with his own music, and surprisingly enough, it works well.  When it comes to the outright Schubertian music, I can’t say how much is Schubert and how much is Berio, but I can say that I like it. 

The concluding work is a mushing together of four transcriptions of Ritirata notturna di Madrid by Boccherini.  Brief and a bit gaudy, it’s not bad at all.  In fact, it’s pretty good.

But the Schubert is the reason for me to keep this disc.

The LSO play very well, and Tony Faulkner’s recorded sound is what one expects it to be.
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Offline Todd

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Re: "New" Music Log
« Reply #243 on: November 24, 2013, 01:14:20 PM »




I needed me some more 20th Century string quartets, so I decided to try the pair from one Jesús Guridi on Naxos.  I've spun the disc twice now, and I must report that while there is certainly nothing exceptionable about the composer's music, there is nothing exceptional about it, either.  The music is melodic and attractive, and it's well crafted, infused with folk music (real or faux, I do not know), and some nice contrapuntal writing, but I find it basically impossible to remember anything about the music other than broad impressions.  No movement, no passage stuck out for me, and no tune stuck in my aural memory.  The music also seems a bit out of place chronologically.  The name I thought of immediately was Dvorak, which for a contemporary of Bartok doesn't seem entirely right.  That's not to say that Guridi needed to write works like Bartok, it's just that Guridi's music reminds me of older styles.  Perhaps I'll investigate more of the composer's music, perhaps I won't, but I'm not in a hurry to do so.

The Breton String Quartet play superbly and sound is excellent.


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Offline Todd

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Re: "New" Music Log
« Reply #244 on: December 06, 2013, 09:19:58 AM »





Just shy of two years ago, I picked up some madrigals by Don Carlo Gesualdo, the crazy, wife murderin’ fiend from Venosa.  The set was from Naxos, and it was good, but not quite good enough.  Then on The new erato’s suggestion, I tried the fourth book of madrigals from La Venexiana on Glossa, and was bowled over.  This past summer I picked up the complete set from Quintetto Vocale Italiano on Newton Classics, but so far I haven’t made it past the first book: the singing and sound are not my cup of tea, though I will return to the set eventually.  However, I decided to try La Venexiana’s recording of the fifth book of madrigals and La Compagnia del Madrigale recording of the sixth book, released just this year, both on Glossa.  Let me just say that I was bowled over again.

As great as the fourth book is, Gesualdo’s truly astounding adventures in harmony and dissonance begin in the fifth book and culminate in the sixth book.  The density and complexity of the works match or surpass those of polyphonic masters like Morales or Victoria or Palestrina, and some melodies are striking in their beauty and intensity.  This is evident in the fifth book, and what holds true for the fifth book holds truer for the sixth.  It helps that both ensembles are more than up to the task of delivering these works, and Glossa’s production values are typically stellar.  Both discs are corkers.  Perhaps I was too hasty in not including them in my 2013 purchases of the year post, though posts can be edited . . .



(I’m beginning to think that Glossa may be a corporate agent of the devil.  Even on their “weak” discs, the production values are crazy high, and the performers are world class.  Yes, only the devil could throw together an outfit that makes me want to pay traditional premium prices for new recordings, thus thinning my wallet.)
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Online The new erato

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Re: "New" Music Log
« Reply #245 on: December 06, 2013, 09:24:00 AM »
I guess you know your next port of call then, the first 5-voice book of Marenzio with La Compagnia del Madrigale, I think even higher of it than of these Gesualdo discs.

Offline Todd

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Re: "New" Music Log
« Reply #246 on: December 06, 2013, 09:26:43 AM »
I guess you know your next port of call then, the first 5-voice book of Marenzio with La Compagnia del Madrigale, I think even higher of it than of these Gesualdo discs.



Dammit, stop! 

First, I need to finish up with the big ol' box of Sweelinck Psalms by the, um, Gesualdo Consort Amsterdam.
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Offline Todd

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Re: "New" Music Log
« Reply #247 on: May 19, 2014, 08:31:51 AM »
<a href="https://www.youtube.com/v/GwgpsEQUTr4" target="_blank" class="new_win">https://www.youtube.com/v/GwgpsEQUTr4</a>





After years of neglect, I recently became a big fan of YouTube.  There are so many recordings of largely forgotten artists in standard repertoire, and just as important, there is so much modern repertoire, that one can listen and listen and listen and never hear the same thing twice - unless that is desired.  I’ve been sampling quite a bit of modern music I might not otherwise listen to, but Pascal Dusapin’s Seven Etudes for Piano is the first modern work I’ve listened to on YouTube that really caught my fancy.  There is only one recording of the work that I can find, the one by Ian Pace, and the seven videos on YouTube are from that set.

The work is magnificent.  It is unabashedly modern – nay, contemporary – but it is easily accessible in a way that, say, Boulez is not.  One can also hear many different influences.  There are hints of jazz, Scriabin, Mompou, Debussy, the Darmstadt school, Messiaen, and others, but Dusapin’s music is wholly his own.  Ian Pace acquits himself well, and if sound is a bit less than ideal, given the source, it conveys the quality of the playing and the music.  I may very well have to buy a copy of the disc.  I do hope other pianists take up the work.


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Offline Mandryka

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Re: "New" Music Log
« Reply #248 on: August 01, 2014, 10:44:17 AM »
<a href="https://www.youtube.com/v/GwgpsEQUTr4" target="_blank" class="new_win">https://www.youtube.com/v/GwgpsEQUTr4</a>





After years of neglect, I recently became a big fan of YouTube.  There are so many recordings of largely forgotten artists in standard repertoire, and just as important, there is so much modern repertoire, that one can listen and listen and listen and never hear the same thing twice - unless that is desired.  I’ve been sampling quite a bit of modern music I might not otherwise listen to, but Pascal Dusapin’s Seven Etudes for Piano is the first modern work I’ve listened to on YouTube that really caught my fancy.  There is only one recording of the work that I can find, the one by Ian Pace, and the seven videos on YouTube are from that set.

The work is magnificent.  It is unabashedly modern – nay, contemporary – but it is easily accessible in a way that, say, Boulez is not.  One can also hear many different influences.  There are hints of jazz, Scriabin, Mompou, Debussy, the Darmstadt school, Messiaen, and others, but Dusapin’s music is wholly his own.  Ian Pace acquits himself well, and if sound is a bit less than ideal, given the source, it conveys the quality of the playing and the music.  I may very well have to buy a copy of the disc.  I do hope other pianists take up the work.

I've been playing Dusapin's second quartet, it's enormous, in 24 sections,  and is called for reasons I don't fully understand, Time Zone. It's very good - I'd be surprised if you didn't enjoy it (in truth I prefer it to the Etudes I think.) You can hear Ferneyhough's music exerting an influence, Ferneyhough is turnng out to be a favourite composer. There's a recording by Arditti.
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Offline Todd

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Re: "New" Music Log
« Reply #249 on: August 01, 2014, 11:01:33 AM »
It's very good - I'd be surprised if you didn't enjoy it (in truth I prefer it to the Etudes I think.)



I do.  I've had the Arditti recording for quite a long time now.  I believe it is called Time Zones to reflect the 24 standard time zones on earth.
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Offline torut

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Re: "New" Music Log
« Reply #250 on: September 13, 2014, 09:33:48 PM »


Hilary Hahn is pretty adventurous as far as A-listers go.  I mean, in the last few years she’s recorded Schoenberg and Ives.  Of course, she produces and owns here own recordings now, and then licenses them to DG, so she can afford to explore as much as she wants to.  It looks like she wanted to do something new and, per the liner notes, improvisational. 

So Ms Hahn schlepped her violin up to Iceland (Silfra being a rift in the tectonic plates up in that remote land), and proceeded to work with Hauschka, aka Volker Bertelmann, a German composer/pianist/prepared pianist.  With the assistance of a producer who has worked with Björk, among others, the two of them recorded a bunch of short pieces that were apparently all first takes and all improvised.  There’s lots of little percussive sounds, courtesy of the prepared piano, and presumably some other objects and instruments just lying around.  It’s all very Cage-y.  Hahn shrinks her sound, and she was also clearly recorded very close up.  And the two musicians jam.  It works pretty well.  It’s not the greatest thing I’ve heard, but there is no predictable flow, and some of the music is novel, or close to it.  I can’t say this is the most original thing I’ve heard, because literally the whole time I was listening, I kept thinking this sounds like Sigur Rós unplugged.  Maybe there’s something in the water up in Iceland. 

Very nice if obviously manipulated sonics.

Thanks for the review. It's very interesting. I listened to it today and liked it a lot. The pieces are mostly minimalist. I have not heard this kind of prepared piano before. It sounds sophisticated and well controlled compared with the Cage's, but I felt the power and the fun are diminished a bit, which is not a problem since the goals are different.

Hahn is certainly an advocate of new music. For the album In 27 pieces, 26 contemporary composers were commissioned short encore pieces for violin and piano, and the last piece was chosen from more than 400 entries for the contest. I greatly enjoyed this album. The composers are Franghiz Ali-Zadeh, Somei Satoh, Du Yun, David Lang, Bun-Ching Lam, Paul Moravec, Antón García AbrilAvner Dorman, David Del Tredici, Mason Bates, Einojuhani Rautavaara, Gillian Whitehead, Richard Barrett, Jennifer Higdon, Christos Hatzis, Jeff Myers, Mark-Anthony Turnage, Valentin Silvestrov, Kala Ramnath, Lera Auerbach, Tina Davidson, Elliott Sharp, Michiru Oshima, James Newton Howard, Nico Muhly, Søren Nils Eichberg, Max Richter.


Offline Brian

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Re: "New" Music Log
« Reply #251 on: March 02, 2016, 10:21:23 AM »
Bump!

I've been thinking about doing something like this with all the new listens I've been doing this year. Mind if I post thoughts here, or if this is "your" thread I'll happily keep doing so elsewhere (like in the Holmboe & Tubin threads in January).

Offline Todd

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Re: "New" Music Log
« Reply #252 on: March 02, 2016, 10:43:19 AM »
Mind if I post thoughts here, or if this is "your" thread I'll happily keep doing so elsewhere (like in the Holmboe & Tubin threads in January).



Post away.  I hope I'm not the only person interested in exploring new music from time to time.
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Offline Brian

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Re: "New" Music Log
« Reply #253 on: March 02, 2016, 11:39:39 AM »
Thanks; here goes nothing!

This week I've been diving into the back-catalogue of Lyrita Records, more or less alphabetically.



First up: an exploration of Lennox Berkeley, a composer I'd previously known only from a couple small chamber pieces and an excellent orchestration of Poulenc's Flute Sonata. That Poulenc arrangement might still be my favorite Berkeley - but the Serenade for String Orchestra gives it a run for its money. The Serenade is a short piece, only about 13 minutes, and a totally winning one. There's a whole great English tradition of this kind of easygoing but deeper-than-expected string music, and Berkeley's contribution is one of the best I've heard so far. If it was coupled on a disc with Vaughan William's Tallis Fantasia and the Elgar string stuff, it would not suffer too much in the comparison.

"Mont Juic" is a suite of Catalan folk dances jotted down and orchestrated with considerable panache (in fact, maybe a bit too much panache) by a young Berkeley and his equally youthful friend, Benjamin Britten. Britten wrote the last two, Berkeley the first two. There's not a clear difference between their contributions, aside from Britten drawing the lucky straw and writing up the slow, sad, more-interesting third dance. This is a fun piece. The all-Berkeley Divertimento did not really stick in my memory.

I listened to the piano concerto on Monday, as a big fan of pianist David Wilde, but already can't remember anything about it except that the slow movement was fairly pretty and well-scored. So far I've only listened to Symphony No. 1, not 2 or 3, but No. 1 is the sort of basically-conservative yet slightly-gnarly-so-as-to-prove-its-unwimpiness music that a lot of British composers turned out in the 1930s-50s. Dave Hurwitz compares it to Roussel but that makes no sense to me - it lacks the joie de vivre and memorable tunes. The same goes for the First Symphony by...



...Arnold Cooke, but he can be forgiven that, because he was a student of Hindemith's. I really liked Cooke's admirably concise Third Symphony, and will maybe write about it later. The Suite to Jabez and the Devil, while maybe not quite as colorful as it sounds, is nevertheless plenty extroverted and entertaining, and if you're hoping the devil will pull out a country fiddle and play a tune, you're in luck.



My favorite discovery of the week so far, by far, is Frank Bridge's Dance Rhapsody, a truly exuberant piece from early in his career (1908) which is all masquerades, fizzing glasses of Veuve, and big bubbly tunes. Its episodes are fairly clearly delineated, too, so you always have a handle on the piece's structure. Dance Poem takes more of a sour turn - the last section is actually marked "Disillusion" - but if you want a cynical take on a Viennese waltz, there's only one standard-setter and that's by Maurice Ravel. Dance Rhapsody is the keeper, a ton of well-made fun.



Overall, though, the composer who's most promising as a potential new personal favorite is John Ireland. Simply put, I liked everything here. The piano concerto may not be the most promising example of its kind, but the Legend, which has a piano soloist playing a fairly minor supporting role, is much more atmospheric and intriguing, with a beginning that bodes well for the disc. The Satyricon overture's a lot of fun, and the Symphonic Studies are decent enough filler (orchestrated by Geoffrey Bush). Boult and the LPO are mighty fine throughout. In fact, all these composers are quite lucky to have attracted Lyrita's support, since the label seems to have invariably hired good-to-great conductors and top-notch London orchestras. Plus very well-engineered for their times.

My explorations will no doubt continue. For now, taking a break to try some things discussed on previous pages of this thread. The Bax string quartets are indeed very enjoyable.

Offline k a rl h e nn i ng

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Re: "New" Music Log
« Reply #254 on: March 02, 2016, 12:01:43 PM »
Hahn is certainly an advocate of new music. For the album In 27 pieces, 26 contemporary composers were commissioned short encore pieces for violin and piano, and the last piece was chosen from more than 400 entries for the contest. I greatly enjoyed this album. The composers are Franghiz Ali-Zadeh, Somei Satoh, Du Yun, David Lang, Bun-Ching Lam, Paul Moravec, Antón García AbrilAvner Dorman, David Del Tredici, Mason Bates, Einojuhani Rautavaara, Gillian Whitehead, Richard Barrett, Jennifer Higdon, Christos Hatzis, Jeff Myers, Mark-Anthony Turnage, Valentin Silvestrov, Kala Ramnath, Lera Auerbach, Tina Davidson, Elliott Sharp, Michiru Oshima, James Newton Howard, Nico Muhly, Søren Nils Eichberg, Max Richter.



My publisher, fellow composer Mark Gresham, submitted a vn/pf piece for the Hilary Hahn Encores composition contest.  His Café Cortadito won an Honorable Mention, and is included as a bonus track on the Japanese release of Deutsche Grammophon / Universal UCCG-1642/3.
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Offline Brian

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Re: "New" Music Log
« Reply #255 on: March 08, 2016, 11:28:23 AM »


Moór was a favorite composer of Pablo Casals, who frequently tried to program his music. But 90 minutes after this CD ended, I honestly can't remember a single thing about it. I think both the concertos had scherzo movements, and I know it was all written in an 1870ish romantic idiom. Also, uh...well, the guy clearly had great taste when he was picking painters to paint his portrait, right? Here's another one:





Magnus Lindberg's post-2010 style has been a big shift toward a more old-fashioned tonal language and an emphasis on making the orchestra sound splendiferous. True to form, these three pieces sound fantastic, especially the endings, which he seems to have a gift for. (I mean the last 2-3 minutes of each piece, not just the literal conclusion.) At its conclusion, the cello concerto seems to turn back the clock and reach a sudden place of romantic-era lyricism.

My problem is that I don't know how, or if, these works are organized. They seem to exist moment-to-moment, as compelling soundscapes, like a tasting menu of tiny plates of food that's meant to provide your palate with something new and different at every course. What brings the tasting menu together as a coherent whole? Well...I don't know. Maybe this is the kind of music where you need to read the score to "get" it. But I don't much like music where you need to read the score to have a chance with it.

Fortunately, Lindberg's music is compelling enough to avoid that trap entirely. I think the concerto, in three movements but played without pause, might be my favorite of this trio, even though Era is the most old-fashioned (there's a R. Strauss quote in there, and it starts out imitative of the Sibelius Fourth).

Great playing and sound. The composer was present at the recording sessions.



I'm skipping the Britten, a sort of Frankenstein creation assembled by Colin Matthews after Britten died. The Finzi is Five Bagatelles, arranged for string orchestra and clarinet. The Bagatelles are certainly charming and pleasant enough - mostly slow, all pretty, wouldn't be a bad choice to play before bedtime. (Though it is too fast and too varied to be Delius!)

Arnold Cooke's first clarinet concerto begins so unobtrusively - quietly, with the clarinet spinning a melody-that-doesn't-seem-like-a-melody - that at first I thought we were still on the Bagatelles. (The Cooke work is for string orchestra only.) Again, the student of Hindemith thing seems like a really important trait.

To be continued......

Offline Brian

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Re: "New" Music Log
« Reply #256 on: March 09, 2016, 11:22:22 AM »


Luiz Costa turns out to be a late romantic composer through-and-through; the trio is from 1937 and features Germanic-type melodies accompanied by a fluid piano part. (For the most part, the violin and cello have the melodic lead, and they often play together, rather than in conversation.) It's undeniably an attractive piece, and I respect it all the more for being so modest in scale (19 minutes). Although the booklet notes praise the adagio as being super gorgeous, I thought it was just OK. Work ends decisively in the C minor key - no happy ending here.

Dukas student Claudio Carneyro's piano trio (1928) has a short intro and then jumps straight into a quasi-fugue. And then we get a beautiful Francophile violin aria. In general, this is a piece built of interesting, unusual parts, like an "Interludio Romanesco" and a funky Rousselian theme-and-variations "on Syrinx." The giant first movement dwarfs the other too - unsurprisingly, since the fugue turns out to be its primary theme. Not only is this fun to listen to, it's also admirably and brazenly wacky. Not a masterpiece, but certainly sticks out among the usual "obscure music" crowd.

Sergio Azevedo will soon turn 50, and his Hukvaldy Trio (2013) advertises its inspiration in a bunch of Janacek sketches, but you really can't glean Janacek from it very easily. There are flashes of his style occasionally (7:15ish), and also hints of the kind of rustic East European folk music that Szymanowski, Bartok, and others have mined. Starting around 14:00 we get a minute of Shostakovich, too. Honestly, this is a pretty cool piece overall. I cite all those comparisons to previous composers to give you an idea, but Azevedo seems to have an interesting voice, and the Hukvaldy Trio is unusually successful at the ol' "old meets new" style. This is the only Azevedo piece available on Naxos Music Library.

Good, not great, playing by the Trio Pangea [sic], and good, not great, recorded sound. Carneyro seems like a fun composer to get to know, and I like the Azevedo trio too; Costa's work is pedestrian. It's very interesting that not one of these composers is working in a "Portuguese" style: one is clearly Germanic, one clearly French, one clearly inspired by Moravian and Carpathian folk style.

As a follow-up...



...I decided to try Claudio Carneyro's piano work "Poemas em prosa" (Poems in prose). This was a bit of a mistake. The two-minute intro is a Schumannesque melody, but rhythmically square and with a totally dull thud-thud melody-echoing left-hand accompaniment. A couple of later sections might stand on their own as encores, but not interesting ones. Oops.

Offline k a rl h e nn i ng

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Re: "New" Music Log
« Reply #257 on: March 09, 2016, 11:29:04 AM »
(Though it is too fast and too varied to be Delius!)

(* chortle *)
Karl Henning, Ph.D.
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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 (poco) Sforzando

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Re: "New" Music Log
« Reply #258 on: March 09, 2016, 11:39:43 AM »
My problem is that I don't know how, or if, these works are organized. They seem to exist moment-to-moment, as compelling soundscapes, like a tasting menu of tiny plates of food that's meant to provide your palate with something new and different at every course. What brings the tasting menu together as a coherent whole? Well...I don't know. Maybe this is the kind of music where you need to read the score to "get" it. But I don't much like music where you need to read the score to have a chance with it.

I am a big proponent of knowing works from score if you have the training to read scores and want to use them both to study the composer's language and to help you judge the performance. But I don't think there is any style of music that requires knowing a score more than any other; besides which, copyrighted modernist scores of a composer like Lindberg (if even readily available) would likely set you back a hundred dollars or more. Perhaps in a case like Lindberg's, repeated listenings are needed to grasp the architecture. Be that as it may, the work of his I've previously heard makes me think that this is a CD I'd like to have.
"I don't know what sforzando means, though it clearly means something."

Offline Brian

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Re: "New" Music Log
« Reply #259 on: March 11, 2016, 09:14:44 AM »
Cross-posting;

First-ever listen to this Pulitzer Prize winner: Caroline Shaw's Partita for 8 Singers.


WOW. I feel like a revolution just happened in my ears.

I mean, the Partita isn't exactly revolutionary. It uses a lot of techniques that have been pioneered and gimmickized elsewhere: nonsensical spoken-word text, bustling conversation alternating with vocalise, gasping, eerie vocal effects (in mvt. 2 the men become a didgeridoo). Except that here, after the prologue math lecture (!) ends, the next 24 minutes are sheer magic, a carpet ride through a sound-place that I didn't know could exist. It's joyous, exultant, unhinged, bewitching. Wow, did I love that listen. Might be the most exciting new thing I've heard this year. (Sorry, Brahms  :P .)

Searching GMG, it looks like Rinaldo, GSMoeller, and a couple other people are fans of this work. Ken B had the best description of all, one I can't top:

TD, Caroline Shaw, Partita for 8 Voices

Which I really like.  It's like Philip Glass and Virgil Thomson got together and rewrote Stimmung.

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But I don't think there is any style of music that requires knowing a score more than any other;
There are a number of pieces from the 1960s on forward that I've listened to with total incomprehension, only to learn that it was based on some sort of mathematical principle or otherwise inaudible organizational mechanism...

The Lindberg disc is good, I do recommend it. I'm excited for the NYPO/Gilbert's next CD, which comes out in April - new symphonies by Christopher Rouse.