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An American Original
Lee Hyla, the American composer who lives now in Boston is as brilliant as he is unknown outside new music circles. At the age of fifty, he is going strong, utterly captivated with music and with his work as a composer and yet, it must also be noted, not yet the recipient of the resounding recognition as a truly great composer on the world scene that he deserves.
is somewhat of an enigma in that he doesn't fall neatly into any
category or school of the modern/new music movement and seems not to really
need to do so. He lives in the eclectic American music landscape that encapulates
everything from pure classical forms to punk rock and what sounds like--but
isn't--free form jazz. He seems to thrive on contemporary music scene's
terrain, its liveliness, its expansiveness, its inexhaustiveness. Think
Eliott Carter meets
The concert featured the composer/musician collective, counter)induction which played the sometimes very challenging music seamlessly and expressively. Their brilliant pianist Blair McMillen was featured in several pieces including a witty "Wilson's Ivory-bill" for baritone, piano and an old, scratchy field recording of the squawks of an ivory-billed woodpecker. The text, cantored bravely and sure by bass-baritone Robert Osborne, is taken from the journals of the 19th-century ornithologist Alexander Wilson.
program included two other works: "The Dream of Innocent III" (1987)
and "Pre-Pulse Suspended" (1984). These two pieces comprised the second
half of the program and while the first half was formidable with the aforementioned
"Wilsons.." and the Concerto No: 2 for Piano and Chamber Orchestra,
the second half of the program was even more enjoyable for me. For one
thing, the audience was more tuned in and quieter. Hyla abruptly shifts
directions in ways where the relationship between adjacent sections of
music aren't always immediately obvious. This is music that requires
close listening but it is also music that rewards its listener with a sense
of elegance and breadth. Ideas and gestures flow, They evolve and
they make sense. In "The Dream Of the Innocent Child" for instance, a solo
cello is flanked on either side by cacophonous percussion; a drum set on
one side and a percussive piano on the other, both launching their consorted
rhythmic salvos while the lone cello riffs away melodically and sweetly
now in its fifth year,
Hyla's small compositional output suggests that he is a perfectionist, an impression bolstered by the fact that each of his pieces is meticulously constructed. He is a truly an original composer whose work deserves much greater recognition and respect than he has gotten so far. Reese Cups for the Miller folks for including him in this prestigious series.
Let Us Now Praise Philadelpha.
String Trio & Duos
Composer: Heitor Villa-Lobos
Cpo Records - #999827
One of the great pleasures of CD collecting in recent years has been the reemergence of an enormous amount of recorded Villas-Lobos' chamber music. Impossibly lush melodies, exotic rhythms, otherworld spirtiuality in extremely vivid performances. Music to love and listen to over and over again.
Composer: Leo Ornstein
Performer: Marc-Andre Hamelin
Label: Hyperion - #67320
There was a time, in the 1920s, when Ornstein's name was mentioned in the same breath as Stravinsky and Schoenberg, and he lived long enough (he died earlier this year at 109) to see his music come and go in fashion several times. One thing is certain: he has never had--and probably never will have again--as formidable and effective an advocate as Marc-Andre Hamelin, the brilliant Canadian pianist, who makes a convincing case that Ornstein's early admirers had it right--he belongs in the same company as Stravinsky and Schoenberg.
Fuerzas [for viola]
Composer: Maria de Alvear
Performer: Christina Fong
Christina Fong is among the most adventuresome of modern violin and viola players having lovingly committed to CD modern masterpieces by John Cage, Morton Feldman, Alan Hovhaness and now the Spanish composer Maria de Alvear's glorious extended 1994 meditation for viola. Engaging and important music from one of the most inventive of the independent CD labels. OrgreOgress Productions
Composer: Harry Partch
Conductor: Dean Drummond
Wergo - #6638
Harry Partch was iconoclastic American composer, musical theorist, philosophic instrument builder, raconteur, artist and hobo and it is Partch's king of the road life from which Dean Drummond and Newband draw the inspiration for The Wayward. "Found" hobo poems serve as fodder for Patch style "just intonation" or what might be called American plainsong.
Composer: Bela Bartok
Performer(s): Csaba Erdélyi,
New Zealand Symphony Orchestra
Here's something irrestible to collectors--the first release of the long awaited recording of Csaba Erdelyi's Restoration and Orchestration of the Bartok Viola Concerto, which was left in an uncompleted form when the composer died in 1945. For many years the only way in which the work could be heard was in the completion by Hungarian Tibor Serly, which nobody much liked.
Erdelyi has worked for many years on a better restoration and has produced, after exhaustive study and consultation, a number of interim 'completions'. Now he has arrived at his definitive version. The trick is that for copyright reasons, the CD is not available in this Hemisphere but can be ordered directly from New Zealand. Click on the cover picture for details.
Composer: George Rochberg
Performers: Boston Modern Orchestra Project Gil Rose, conductor
Naxos - #8559120
George Rochberg was born in 1918, and became one of North America's most influential composition teachers. A rabid atonalist Rochberg abandoned that stance following the death of a son and began to construct his music out of both tonal and atonal languages. In so doing, he dramatically reinterpreted the notion of stylistic uniformity that had been a hallmark of the Western aesthetic since antiquity. By including these diverse musics, Rochberg believed that he had expanded the emotional range that modern music was able to express. He had found a contemporary language that could both bear the weight of despair and point to transcendence. And—unlike either strict serialism or aleatoric composition—it was a language that was pointedly individualistic.
Symphony in G Minor
Composer: E.J. Moeran
Naxos - #8555837
Our usual monthly bow to English country estates, chintz and big slobbering dogs. Every culture has some composer or artist or writer who is famous for being unknown: E.J Moeran is England's claim to unsung genius.
The White Peacock
Composer: Brotons, Damase, Dorff Griffes, others
Performer: Debora Harris, Mike Coates
Ensemble: Harris-Coates Duo
Barking Dog Records
Delightful collection of contemporary works for flute and guitar including a new transcription of American composer Charles T. Griffes' "The White Peacock." This piece, originally written for piano in 1915 and later scored by Griffes for full orchestra, was transcribed and arranged by Mike Coates for flute, guitar and bassoon -- this recording features guest artist Russell Peterson on bassoon. Also, contains lovely piece by Debussy and Rodrigo.
West Side Story
Composer: Leonard Bernstein
Performers: Kenneth Schermerhorn and the Nashville Symphony Orchestra
Naxos - 8559126
Oh, no, Maria. No. Ready or not the "composer's version" of the now overly familiar score has arrived, courtesy of Bernstein disciple Kenneth Schermerhorn and the first-rate Nashville orchestra.
17 Themes for Ockodektet
Composers: Jeff Kaiser
Performers: The Jeff Kaiser Ockodektet
Jeff Kaiser is a composer, trumpet player, conductor, and private music instructor residing in the cozy town of Ventura, CA, where he does the lion's share of his performances and turns out really nicely packaged CDs that are as funky to listen to as they are Zen-like to contemplate. Think big band on acid on one of Dizzy's most innovative nights.
Symphonies No 1 and 2
Composer: Serge Bortkiewicz
Conductor: Martyn Brabbins
Label: Hyperion - #67338
Audio CD (October 8, 2002)
Frankly, I never heard of the guy until this CD appears in my mailbox but if you like fiery late Romantic Russian music that stirs the soul this one will get your mojo working .
Composer: Larry Thomas Bell, Russell Peterson David Maslanka
Performer: Russell Peterson
Barking Dog Records
Russell Peterson plays David Maslanka's Sonata for Alto Saxophone and Piano,
Larry Thomas Bell's Mahler in Blue Light and his own Concerto for alto
Saxophone and Percussion Orchestra. Distinctly American music, masterfully
played and recorded. Highly recommended.
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