Author Topic: "New" Music Log  (Read 124060 times)

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Offline Todd

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Re: "New" Music Log
« Reply #480 on: October 04, 2020, 05:41:57 AM »



Gloria Cheng is new to me, though she really ought not to be.  A specialist in contemporary works and works by composers she has personally worked with, she covers all manner of tasty modernist, post-war, and current century works.  Yet this disc represents the first recording of hers to make its way into my collection.  Very clearly my bad.  Ms Cheng, as the album covers indicates, worked directly with Steven Stucky, who also wrote the liner notes, and the great Esa-Pekka Salonen, though for me the greatness derives from his conducting more than his still quite formidable composing.  Some Lutosławski gets dropped in the mix for good measure.  Time to listen.

The disc opens with Four Album Leaves by Stucky, from 2002.  The miniatures explore limited ideas, like lengthy ostinatos in Meccanico or Messiaen-like hypnotic sound in Serno, luminoso, and all sound quite nice.  The niceness is reinforced by Cheng's tone, which lacks edge and brittleness as recorded.  Next is the world premiere recording of Lutosławski's Piano Sonata, though it is the third to end up up in my collection.  (Fun fact: women have recorded five of the six available commercial recordings.)  Cheng sort of splits the difference between Ewa Kupiec's more romantic take (think Szymanoski) and Corinna Simon's leaner, more angular take (think Ligeti).  Cheng's tone evokes the former, and her clean playing evokes the latter, while she also plays with an affecting gentleness in some passages.  Kupiec sets the standard for me, but it's nice to have yet another version. (Maybe I end up with all of them.)

Next comes a trio of works by Salonen.  Yta II is a starkly modernist piece, forcing Cheng to skitter along the keyboard for effect, and while not deep or heavy, the surface textures and discernible musical line make it well worth listening to.  The Three Preludes are a bit more substantive.  The first starts off conventionally beautiful, only to move into harmonic development that renders the piece knottier yet still pleasing by the end.  The surprisingly Janáčekian second Prelude, or Janáček meets the avant-garde, belies the Chorale designation.  The last is a perpetuum mobile piece of note.  But it's Dichotomie that is the non-Lutosławski star of the show.  In the extended perpetuum mobile piece titled Mécanisme, Cheng deploys glissandi most effectively to create washes of sound from which clusters of sound emerge, creating a piece that's more about surface sheen and immediate, dissipating effect than depth.  It produces nothing concrete, per the composer.  Organisme blends trills and ostinatos into a better than Glass type Glass, with new ideas occasionally and almost randomly emerging from the busy surface.  Cheng seems ideally suited to produce the optimum sound the piece demands, though I would not be averse to hearing what Herbert Schuch may do with it.

The disc closes with Three Little Variations for David, as in Zinman, and originally played by Yefim Bronfman.  Small trifles, though they can pack an outsize punch in terms of dynamics, they make a fine end to a very fine disc of mostly contemporary music. 

While it seems unlikely Ms Cheng will record much core rep, I would not mind if she did, and in particular I'd like to hear what she could do with Debussy.  Sticking more with her musical milieu, I would surely love to hear her take on the Vingt Regards, any and all Ligeti, Gubaidulina, and hope against hope, Mompou.  Her Messiaen and Saariaho disc looks destined to enter my collection.
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Offline Todd

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Re: "New" Music Log
« Reply #481 on: October 10, 2020, 05:34:30 AM »



I very rarely listen to non-Bach solo cello compositions, and I rarely venture into chamber works for cello beyond core rep.  So when I spied this closeout disc entitled Violincello Italiano, consisting of four works by Italian composers, two of whom I'd never even read the names of before, I figured why not?  It's on Genuin, after all, and Genuin has a high hit rate.  The star of the show is Paolo Bonomini, winner of the Bach prize, and student of Antonio Meneses, Mario Brunello, and Enrico Dindo, among others.  That seemed to guarantee at least good playing.

The disc opens with four caprices by Joseph Marie Clèment dall'Abaco, selected from a larger set of Capricci for solo cello.  The composer was born in 1710, so these works come after Bach, but they sound more baroque in style than classical.  And they sound quite fine.  As a first recorded appearance of the cellist, one can hear absolute control of the instrument, outstanding intonation, and an ability to generate a big, fat tone, or a lean upper register as needed.  The music sounds pleasant enough, though it will never become core rep.  Next up comes the vastly different Ciaccona, Intermezzo, e Adagio from Luigi Dallapiccola.  The unabashedly modernist, immediate post-war work revels in dissonance and tunelessness, stark dynamic shifts, harsh accenting, and only occasional bouts of beauty.  Anger and sorrow rush toward the listener.  Here's a piece I really should have investigated before.  It sort of sounds like a solo cello equivalent to Memorial to Lidice or Nanking! Nanking!.  A familiar name follows, in the form of Luigi Boccherini.  I've got several Boccherini cello compositions in my collection, but not this work, the C Major Sonata for Violincello and Basso Continuo.  Here, Polish cellist Magdalena Bojanowicz joins Bonomini, and on evidence of this, she also has chops.  The standard fast-slow-fast sonata is tuneful, light on its feet - even in the Largo - and delightful, especially in the stupid virtuosic coda.  It has the Boccherini feel, which I mean positively.  The disc closes with four short works by Carlo Alfredo Piatti, including one world premiere recording of the Canzonetta.  Japanese pianist Naoko Sonoda (I don't know if she's related to Takahiro) joins Bonomini, and the duo deliver archetypal romantic miniatures, with the front and center Bonomini reveling in vibrato and cantabile playing of a very high order, indeed. 

All in all, this recording reveals a highly talented cellist who really ought to record more.  Heck, his musical partners should, too.

High end Genuin production values, though people strongly averse to hearing cellists breathe may dislike the recording.
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Offline Todd

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Re: "New" Music Log
« Reply #482 on: October 17, 2020, 05:39:26 AM »



When I recently listened to Gloria Cheng's disc of modern piano music, I read Steven Stucky note that Magnus Lindberg referred to the piano as a compositional lie detector.  I endeavored to try some of Lindberg's piano music, and as luck would have it, this disc popped up for under five bucks.  The Lindberg quote is included in the liner notes, so he meant it.  Fearless pianist-composer George King sets out to play Lindberg's Jubilees, and works by two other composers, and then a selection of his own Etudes, which reflect his background in classical and jazz piano.

The disc starts with the Lindberg.  That Lindberg plays piano seems obvious here, as he wrote Etudes with musical qualities that seem to descend from Debussy, with hints of Stravinsky, Szymanowski, and maybe Ligeti thrown in, all while sounding geared toward someone who actually plays piano.  While harsh and dissonant more than a little of the time, they are mostly, clear, clean, and linear, though the fourth opens in hauntingly beautiful fashion.  Next comes Philip Cashian's Six pieces by paintings by Ben Hartley, a world premiere recording.  Think of it as a severely miniaturized and modernized take on Mussorgsky's conceit, with Messiaen looming so very large.  The writing is not derivative, but the use of harmony, the occasional sparseness, and the bright colors all remind one of the French composer, with the fixations stripped away.  The Webernian brevity results in a neat trick: the listener just settles in to each piece, and then each piece ends.  Always leave 'em wanting more applies here, too.  It's the best thing on the disc.  George Benjamin's Shadowlines, or six canonic preludes for piano, follow.  The most uncompromisingly "avant-garde" composition on the disc, the canonic form often gets purposely buried under stark, terraced dynamics, harmonic clusters, and blurs of atonality.  It's something of a hard listen, though when, in a few instances, the canons emerge clearly from the din, the effect actually sounds exciting, which sort of makes no sense, but there you go.  Finally, King's Etudes sound like a mashup of Debussy, minimalism, Jarrett, and generic post-war avant-garde music.  The composer's intent is to make the pieces more accessible, even playable, and the mashup nature doesn't mean they don't sound good, because they do.  They do fall just a smidge outside traditional classical music expectations, which is just fine.

My biggest takeaway is that I need to explore more Philip Cashian.
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Offline Todd

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Re: "New" Music Log
« Reply #483 on: October 24, 2020, 04:04:42 AM »



Krzysztof Meyer is a name new to me.  I stumbled upon this closeout disc, and figured I might as well try something new, both to me, and in the case of the Imaginary Variations from 2010, to the repertoire.  OK, it's not new-new, but it's definitely contemporary.  The members of the Poznań Piano Trio perform the assorted works in what appears to be their only commercial recording to date.

The disc starts with the Canzona for Cello and Piano, and it starts with a deep, bold cello part that sounds tuneful but dark, sort of in the DSCH vein, but not as unyielding.  The piano part sounds sparser to start, and then as the music moves into a faster middle section, both instrumentalists are given more to do.  Energetic and, if not light, it is not dour, and the music moves along with astringent energy.  It makes for a solid disc opener, but the Imaginary Variations for Violin and Piano make for more than that.  Here, the name that immediately comes to mind is Bartók, with the dissonant, vibrant writing, and the complex structure, but with a neo-classical twist.  Not a traditional theme and variations, the variations, such as they are, emerge from repeated patterns.  This piece far exceeded any reasonable expectations I may have had.

Next is a brief Moment musical for solo cello, marking the second time in a few short weeks that I've added new solo cello music to my collection.  Written as an encore for Roman Jabłoński, it's a super-virtuosic piece, launching with bold, slashing playing, and filled with portamento and pizzicati and nearly everything that can be packed into a short piece.  It's not a great piece like a cello suite, but it's an exceptionally good encore.  Next comes the brief Misterioso for Violin and Piano, and here the emphasis is not on overt, gallery pleasing virtuosity, but rather, for the violinist, on the ability to play delicately and with a lovely sound without a tuneful base.  Fortunately for the listener, the violinist pulls it off.

The disc closes with a big old Piano Trio from 1980, in five movements, and spanning over half an hour.  Starting with a Stravinskian Impetuoso, then moving on to a sometimes bleak Adagio inquieto, then bridging with two intense movements before arriving at the thirteen-plus minute Con moto closer, the work covers a lot of stylistic and inventive ground.  While using more famous composers as a description has uses, here it falls short, because Meyer's invention is not derivative, nor is it beholden to any one style.  Here's some music penned in the last half century that really stands on its own and demonstrates mastery.  It also demands I try something else from the composer.

Sound and playing all meet modern standards. 
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Offline André

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Re: "New" Music Log
« Reply #484 on: October 24, 2020, 10:40:09 AM »
Nice disc/program indeed. His string quartets are masterful.

Offline The new erato

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Re: "New" Music Log
« Reply #485 on: October 24, 2020, 10:46:46 PM »
Nice disc/program indeed. His string quartets are masterful.
Agreed.

Offline Todd

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Re: "New" Music Log
« Reply #486 on: October 31, 2020, 06:01:36 AM »



Recently, on the solo piano disc Jubilees, played by George King, the brief work by English composer Philip Cashian emerged as the most intriguing thing on the disc, so I figured I should seek out more music by the guy.  Coincidentally, or perhaps due to advanced Amazon algorithms, a disc of Cashian's chamber and orchestral music popped up at clearance price (five buck and change), so I just had to have it.  The disc includes five works spanning the period from the early aughts to 2012.

The disc opens with Tableaux, played by the Northern Sinfonia and conducted by Thomas Zehetmair, the very forces that commissioned the work.  A chamber orchestra work, the sound-world sounds like a sort of post-Schoenberg Schoenberg.  The work sounds rather sectionalized, and almost concerto for small orchestra like, with each section getting its due, with sparse textures and ample dissonance, not to mention a nifty if standard sort of fast-slow-fast structure, the piece unfolds continuously and colorfully.  It sounds both strikingly modern yet incredibly easy to listen to. 

Next up is the concerto for Cello and Strings.  Pizzicato strings contrast with the bowed cello to start, and then from there, over the course of the just shy of twenty minutes, Cashian mixes and matches snatches of astringent bowed string playing to go along with the frequent pizzicato continuo, and the undulating, at times searing, and times harshly singing (or maybe croaking) solo cello playing.  As the piece fades away, one concludes this ain't too bad.  Here's a work Nicolas Altstaedt should take up.

The title work, The House of Night, follows.  Basically, a concerto for oboe and strings, the five short movements find Cashian doing his thing.  The oboe starts off sounding very flute-y, and the strings offer a soft cushion, but as the first movement progresses and turn into the second, the oboe sounds sharper and the strings more astringent.  Moods and soundworlds shift fast to slow and back, right to the end.  As with his solo piano music, the brevity makes the music understay its welcome - perhaps something of a feat for an oboe concerto

Dark Flight, a cello sextet follow, and from the dark opening semi-quavers through the entire duration, the six players all do good work, and vary sounds and textures as much as six cellists can, but, while nice enough, it's probably too much cello to listen to frequently.

A nice, big Piano Concerto closes things out.  The piano starts things off simply and sparsely and solo for a good while, as the opening chord transfigures.  Only with first a harp doubling the piano, then a vibraphone and trombone entering the mix, does the orchestra finally enter.  The piano part is purely tuneless, as is the orchestral part.  Slow, single notes from the piano start the slow second movement, which also remains resolutely tuneless while still generating appealing music, more so than some other contemporary/avant-garde compositions.  No reason for harshness or hardness or ugliness here.  The extended sort of cadenza meanders, the sparse music lost in itself.  The concluding movement conforms with the standard fast-slow-fast model, and it sort of seems like a fusion of de-brutalized Bartok 1 and generic post-Darmstadt modernism.  That's not meant as criticism, and the way the entire movement moves continuously through to the end, basically following the simple-ish line of the piano really works better than it ought to. 

This disc reinforces my positive first experience with Mr Cashian's work.  I may have to sample some more of his work.  All artists involved do good work, and recorded sound is fully up to snuff.
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Offline Todd

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Re: "New" Music Log
« Reply #487 on: November 07, 2020, 06:50:35 AM »



Figured it makes sense to go for more Meyer without delay.  This Naxos disc includes the world premiere of the composer's 2009 Piano Quartet, and a recording of his big Piano Quintet from 1991.  The Piano Quartet is a long, twenty-four minute single movement that seamlessly moves between different sections.  At times harshly dissonant, with clangorous piano playing, sharp sforzandi, and striking dynamic explosions, the music at other times moves slowly and with no little beauty.  There are moments of gentleness, nearly violent outbursts, haunting unison string playing, jittery pizzicato playing married to skittish piano playing, all moving back and forth fluidly, sometimes for longer periods, sometimes for shorter ones.  It's like a expressionism meets atonality meets aleatoric music cacophony that still manages to entirely cohere.  Here's 21st Century chamber music to sinks one's teeth into.

The forty-minute Piano Quintet starts with bracing, bright piano playing and has an eerie, kinda Schnittke-meets-Coates sound, with the string drooping and searing, before branching off into an abstract, more amorphous avant-garde soundworld.  But the interlocking motifs and ideas make it jell.  The long Misterioso slow movement, which clocks in at over thirteen minutes, sounds like its description, with the strings often playing extended notes, which creates an intensity that never really breaks during the movement.  The short Inquieto likewise lives up to its descriptive name and comes off like a harsh musical assault of a Scherzo.  The harsh, brittle final movement closes out with uncompromising music, ranging from slow and somber to downright aggressive playing.  Here is a large scale chamber work tracing back to similar works of past centuries, the contemporary equivalent of Shostakovich or Brahms.  Magnificent.

For quite a few years, I've sort of summed up Polish composers as Chopin, Szymanowski, and Lutosławski.  I think I have to add Meyer to that list, at least for chamber music.  I have to check the string quartets.  Probably some orchestral music, too.

Exemplary playing and sound.
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Offline Todd

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Re: "New" Music Log
« Reply #488 on: November 14, 2020, 06:36:03 AM »



First Finzi!  It took me until late 2020 to finally snag a disc of Gerald Finzi's music, and then because it was on clearance.  Starting things off, the hefty forty-fiveish minute (as recorded here) setting of most of Wordsworth's Intimations of Immortality from Recollections of Early Childhood presents a big intro, with textual quality guaranteed.  The music starts off sounding stereotypically British in that it sounds pastoral, with soaring strings, though Finzi mixes things up.  Truth to tell, the music is at its best when the chorus sings above the strings.  The use of percussion sounds a bit crude, or at least not at all to my taste in the third movement (too many cymbal crashes, among other things), for instance, but the blending of voice and orchestra generally works well.  So, too, does Philip Langridge as the soloist.  Few of the vocal works in my collection are in my native language, so when one comes along, and one with a solo part, and with a singer of the caliber of Philip Langridge, I sort of pay closer attention to the text.  He delivers, and the chorus delivers, and the work sounds substantive and generally quite good overall, quibbles about orchestration notwithstanding.

The disc closes out with the Grand Fantasia and Toccata for Piano and Orchestra.  Pianist Philip Fowke is new to me, and he acquits himself well in the work, but the work itself is overwrought in a generic sort of way, with neither of the movements particularly gripping.  A definite meh.

All forces concerned do good work, but the 80s vintage digital recording needs a fresh remastering/re-EQ, because this one sounds hard and glassy during tuttis. 

I know I won't be collecting the Grand Fantasia, and I would write that I doubt I go for another version of the main work, but I see that James Gilchrist serves as tenor in the Naxos recording.  His Schubert song cycles far exceeded expectations, so who knows?
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Offline Todd

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Re: "New" Music Log
« Reply #489 on: November 21, 2020, 06:43:46 AM »



Until I purchased this closeout disc, I had not listened to Kurt Weill in fifteen or more years.  The last time I listed, it was to Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny in its first recording.  This el cheapo disc seemed like a good excuse to listen to his music again.  Songs, some extracted from stage works, comprise roughly half the disc, while the Second Symphony makes up the back half.  The symphony was the main draw, which ended up being a good thing, because the songs do not really work for me.  Diane Dufresne clearly is not and was not an opera singer and she is recorded much too closely here.  Her singing holds no allure for me, and each song kind of couldn't end quickly enough.  As with the full production of Mahagonny, the Alabama Song suffers in proper setting when compared to the vastly superior version from The Doors.

Now to the main attraction.  Weill's neo-classical symphony has a lot more appeal.  The opening movement sounds simultaneously breezy yet substantial, with a concerto for orchestra style segment for pretty much each section to gets its due, with the winds, in particular, delivering some tuneful music.  Partly a result of the recording technique - ample space - and Yannick Nézet-Séguin's theatrical conducting, one gets a blend of Stravinsky and less cholesterol-rich Korngold.  The Largo, not especially slow sounding here, has an almost movie soundtrack feel and some really superb brass writing.  (Maybe Honeck and Pittsburgh can take it up.)  Though the textures often seem somewhat light, a certain darkness pervades the transfigured march, weaving in and out.  This becomes more evident in the bolder, march-like closing movement, though Weill's bright orchestration, including doubled piccolos, sort of mask that fact.  The rhythmic verve is obvious, but the overall smoothness of delivery sort of doubles down on masking the darker overtones.  Not a complaint.  The work is good enough that I would not be averse to hearing one or two more versions.

Atma delivers good if spacious sound, though one must adjust volume rather significantly between songs and symphony.  All instrumentalists involved do excellent work, and young YNS shows that he had conductorial chops even early in the century.
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 Jo498

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Re: "New" Music Log
« Reply #490 on: November 24, 2020, 12:03:51 PM »
I don't know this recording but both Weill symphonies are quite remarkable pieces that deserve to be better known (I have only and oldish recording with Bertini). The first symphony is quite different (even further from the musical theatre Weill than the 2nd). And his best orchestral work might be the violin concerto. If he had not been so busy and successful with theatre music, Weill might have been a major composer of instrumental music of his generation.
Struck by the sounds before the sun,
I knew the night had gone.
The morning breeze like a bugle blew
Against the drums of dawn.
(Bob Dylan)

Offline Todd

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Re: "New" Music Log
« Reply #491 on: November 26, 2020, 05:50:19 AM »



Until I spied this closeout disc, I don't think I'd even seen the name Giovanni Platti.  A younger contemporary of Bach, he appears to have written a sizable slug of standard baroque fare.  Among his compositional output are these six Flute Sonatas bundled together in opus number three.  All six of the sonatas, and all twenty-three movements, blend together nicely.  It's one big, long, laid-back, beautiful, largely undifferentiated blob o' flute music.  It's pleasant.  And it makes for lovely background music.

None of this takes away from the artists.  Headliner Alexa Raine-Wright plays with a warm, beautiful tone and exemplary breath control, and her three musical partners play their various instruments (harpsichord, baroque cello, archlute, and baroque guitar) with aplomb.  Sound quality is just dandy.  I will never listen to this disc frequently, but I can see myself listening whilst performing some mundane and quiet chores.
The universe is change; life is opinion. - Marcus Aurelius, Meditations

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Offline Todd

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Re: "New" Music Log
« Reply #492 on: November 28, 2020, 06:31:53 AM »



A themed disc about female madness. Clare McCaldin pens her rationale for the program in the liner notes, which may inspire or not, but for me, the whole point of such an endeavor is to see if such a collection compels.

The disc opens with a pair of short, English-language works, one by Henry Purcell and finished by Benjamin Britten, Mad Bess, and one by Hariett Abrams, Crazy Jane, both informed by various famous works, and both make for a somewhat tepid opening to the disc.  McCaldin and accompanist Libby Burgess do nice enough work, but the music falls flat.

Things improve with Brahms' Ophelia.  Brahms' familiar and comfortable idiom works nicely, though the German diction does not sound quite so accurate as German singers produce.  As usual, it does not really bother me, it just must be mentioned.  Things improve yet again with a handful of Hugo Wolf's Mörike-Lieder.  Echt-romantic, properly proportioned and structured, and perfectly expressive, both composer and musical duo deliver the goods.  While some of the upper register piano playing delights, the limitations of the efficient rather than sumptuous sound make one wish for more mixing desk tomfoolery.  Still, as with all Wolf lieder I've heard, it works supremely well.  (I really do need to systematically explore the composer's oeuvre.) 

Turns out, though, that more modern music is where it's at on this disc.  Ned Rorem's Ariel, setting texts from Sylvia Plath, finds the duo, joined by clarinetist Catriona Scott, delivering songs both lyrical and tartly dissonant, and unabashedly modern, with a fluidity and sense of ease that seems to indicate true fondness for the style.  The near matching of clarinet and voice in pitch and sound at times works well.  Predictably excellent, given Rorem's high hit rate.

The disc closes with Vivienne, composed by Stephen McNeff for the singer, with texts by Andy Rashleigh, the work is about Vivienne Haigh-Wood Eliot.  The roughly half hour work sets a half dozen poems exploring brief segments of the subjects life.  The music sounds more like show tunes than heavy-duty art songs, but here it is the text that carries the weight.  Mostly narrative and direct, and reliant upon sharp allusions and turns of phrase, with bitterness and condescension and sorrow permeating the piece, it unexpectedly packs a wallop.  Here's a work I didn't know I wanted to add to my collection.  Given that the work was written for the singer, and that the singer and pianist premiered the work, it seems a bit lived in, in the best way - like Lorraine Hunt Lieberson's performance of the very different Neruda Songs by her husband. 

So a couple duds to start, but a rock solid program overall.  I can always start listening with track three from now on.
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Offline Todd

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Re: "New" Music Log
« Reply #493 on: December 05, 2020, 06:38:27 AM »



Various artistic forces in Poland conspired around the Chopin bicentennial to record works by various young(-ish) Polish composers as a national homage to the greatest of Polish composers.  The composers and works bear no resemblance to the master of piano compositions.  Instead, it's just new stuff, exploratory and potentially pushing boundaries.  One such composer is bear no resemblance Agnieszka Stulgińska, who was in her 20s and 30s when she composed the works presented on this disc.  It's a grab bag of five short works for various ensembles with no underlying theme of note.

The disc starts off with Let's meet, for two prepared pianos, something new in my collection.  Such a composition must sound modern, in a post-Cageian way, and Stulgińska shows a way to sound different.  The short piece includes rapid, repeated figurations, ample string strumming, hefty tone clusters, exaggerated low registers, shrill vocalization, and clashing musical ideas between the two instruments.  The Lutosławski Piano Duo possess real chops and dispatch the piece with ease.  An unexpectedly strong start to the disc, to be sure.

Next comes Ori, for the unusual combo of accordion, electric guitar, cello, and clarinet.  This marks another first in my collection.  Thinking I sort of knew what to expect, I got something I did not expect.  Apparently inspired by DNA replication, the first movement slowly gestates into existence, nothing but sound and occasional harmony (?) and blurred soundscape, where instrumental doubling creates new sounds fit for an avant-garde movie.  The second movement skitters along bizarrely, with the electric guitar adding a distinctive texture, and the third movement returns to a different variant of avant-garde movie soundtrack.  Not as strong as the opener, but unique.

In Credo follows, and the brief work for strings and percussion slowly expands as it is one big crescendo, and it sounds vaguely like various, severe post-war modernists with helpings of chaos thrown in.  There's no music center, no tune, nothing but gradually building music to the climax, followed by a disappearing coda. 

Stara Rzeka (Old River), for chamber orchestra is, for all intents and purposes, a musical stream of consciousness, not inspired by a body of water but by a river of thought, with musical figurations, fragments, and outbursts fading in and out in the continuous, cacophonous, yet still tightly focused piece.  It's sort of like Berio married to Webern.  Nice.

The disc closes with Flying Garbage Truck, for saxophone, accordion, violin, cello, and piano - and tape.  Whereas other works use conventional means to simulate electroacoustic music, here one gets a small chamber ensemble and chaotic sounds, be they digital creations or altered - heavily and lightly - sounds of the streets, blurring together in a cacophonous racket.  Once gets the sense that one could mix in any recorded sounds to achieves the desired results.  My general reaction to electroacoustic music is essentially meh, and this probably rates a meh+.

Overall, the disc offers a mixed bag of contemporary music, but the strongest music indicates that Ms Stulgińska warrants further consideration.

Fine playing from all involved, and Dux delivers its typical high quality recorded sound.
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

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Re: "New" Music Log
« Reply #494 on: December 12, 2020, 06:29:14 AM »



André Riotte is a composer entirely new to me.  Born the 20s, he grew up in the post-war avant-garde, and it shows.  The liner notes indicate that he follows in paths of Messiaen, Xenakis, and Barraque, and it shows.  The name Messiaen emerges as on obvious inspiration, as it does with so much post-war piano music.  Riotte work presented here, Météorite et ses métamorphoses, a massive 54'+ piece that is a theme and variations - or rather theme and musical metamorphoses - is a big old avant-garde sonic blob.  Inspired by mathematical and computer compositional models, as well as various schools of atonality and other forms of high modernism, the piece staggers and punches and bites and clangs and hammers at the listener.  It is hard listening start to finish, though the music does display some fine invention with very oblique references to composers older and newer.  Ultimately, though, even when compared to the much longer Vingt Regards, this work seems too long and too stylistically repetitive to satisfy enough to warrant many listens.  One or two more will suffice.  Thérèse Malengreau, something of a specialist in obscure fare, plays well, and sound is just fine. 
The universe is change; life is opinion. - Marcus Aurelius, Meditations

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Offline Todd

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Re: "New" Music Log
« Reply #495 on: December 19, 2020, 06:46:12 AM »



Alexander Asteriades is another name I'd never even seen until I spied this el cheapo disc from the Audio Max sub-label of MDG.  A set of variations for Piano Trio and a dozen songs seemed like something to try for a few bucks from this apparently German based composer.  (His bio is thin and I didn't do any digging.)

The short set of variations for Piano Trio starts the disc, and one name immediately comes to mind: Shostakovich.  So much so, that it might be possible to pass it off as a newly discovered work.  Dissonant, often darkly hued, yet also kinda tuneful, it sounds nice enough, but ultimately it made me want to listen to DSCH.  That's no bad thing.

The dozen songs, with German text only in the liner notes, break away stylistically a bit more, but though modern, the music is not avant garde.  It sounds like a blend of Rorem and DSCH, with cold, hard piano music and mostly dark writing for the baritone.  The variety and mix works better than the work for piano trio, but I do not see myslef spinning the songs a whole lot.

Meh+.

MDG can't help but release recordings in superb sound.
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

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Re: "New" Music Log
« Reply #496 on: December 26, 2020, 07:21:49 AM »



Who doesn't like lieder?  Of course, Schubert looms gigantic in this field, and other later romantics of some fame seem to dominate the field, but when I stumbled upon a closeout of a disc of songs by Peter Cornelius, a name I may have seen but definitely forgot, I thought it could be a good time to explore a nook of the repertoire.  His age and homeland apparently placed him in thrall to Liszt and Wagner, quite understandably, but at least based on the evidence of this disc, they did not dominate his composing.  Also, Cornelius was apparently a poet-composer, having penned something like 700 poems and he set a big chunk to music, as did some other composers, notably Liszt.  A couple of his songs close the disc, but a couple works by Heine aside, the rest of the texts are by German poets I do not know.  The works were penned when the composer ranged from his 20s to his 40s.  In general, the music sounds very much of its time, namely mid-19th Century Germany.  It sounds squarely and unabashedly romantic, but a couple things become clear, at least for these songs.  First, the earlier songs tend to sound a bit more dramatic whereas the later works sound more economical and contained, though Reminiszenz from 1862 contains a bit of drama.  That's not to say they lack expressiveness, but rather that the compositional technique sounds more developed and more refined, and often simpler.  While lyrical, Cornelius does not match Schubert in this regard, an impossible feat, and he doesn't sound as daring and intricate as Wolf, but his music works well.  So well that I think I will probably plump for another recording or two.

The singers all do good work, and pianist Matthias Veit plays nicely, though as recorded, he can sound a bit strident in places.  The co-production with BR Klassik yields high quality sound.

A nice little discovery.
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

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Re: "New" Music Log
« Reply #497 on: January 02, 2021, 07:09:33 AM »



The second disc of music by Ēriks Ešenvalds in my collection more or less continues on from the first.  The disc contains seven short pieces, all sounding like a blend of modern spiritual composers like Gorecki or Part or Taverner, informed by older religious traditions and newer secular ones.  There's a slight difference with this disc, though, and that is that aural beauty dominates everything.  While contemporary, the music flows gently and washes over the listener.  In some ways the label "easy listening" could suit it, but that would be a disservice.  While not achieving the same type of transcendent, suspension-of-time feel that historical composers of note could achieve - Morales or Monteverdi, say - this disc does come close to achieving that in places. The composer's use of harmony, reinforced by frequent wordless choral work, creates a billowy, haunting, and enveloping sound.  Come the fifth work, Vineta, with eleven singers augmented by percussion, Ešenvalds creates a masterful soundscape, evoking the mythic, sunken Baltic city, with the instruments adding both a eerie sound and a massive, thundering sound.  The second best work on the disc is the closer, In Paradisum, set for cello, viola, and choir, and it offers music that perfectly suits the text and use, which makes sense since the composer wrote it for his grandmother.  There's a John Tavener like quality, except the music sounds more immediate, more gripping, more real, less saccharine, and it sounds achingly beautiful and mixes sorrow and resignation and acceptance. 

Sonics again take front and center since Stereophile Editor-in-Chief engineered the recording.  This time around, the PSU forces left Stumptown for the rural community of Mt Angel and the larger St Mary's Church, placing the crew a short walk from where they must one day record, Mt Angel Abbey.  The larger venue sounds larger, with an even more blended sound than on the last disc, and with even broader dynamic range.  When the instrumental music hits full force in Vineta, one feels it when played through floorstanders, but the spatial balancing seems slightly more focused through headphones.  Superb sound, but I am not entirely convinced it can be called SOTA, what, with some Glossa productions of choral works out there showing exactly how it should be done.
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 Brian

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Re: "New" Music Log
« Reply #498 on: January 02, 2021, 07:52:01 AM »
the PSU forces left Stumptown for the rural community of Mt Angel and the larger St Mary's Church, placing the crew a short walk from where they must one day record, Mt Angel Abbey.
Isn't that the abbey with the brewery? I was supposed to spend a spring afternoon getting tipsy there late March 2020, before you-know-what happened.

Offline Todd

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Re: "New" Music Log
« Reply #499 on: January 02, 2021, 08:08:20 AM »
Isn't that the abbey with the brewery?


Yes, it's one of only three monastic breweries in the US, and apparently it purports to follow a 1500 year old brewing tradition.  I'm not a beer guy, so I have never had any. 
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