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  November 29-December 6, 2004
Elliott Carter at 96:
A Lion in Winter

Elliott Carter turns 96 on December 11 and to mark the occassion his most recent quartet--the Fifth--will be heard not once, but twice in next ten days.  The Arditti String Quartet brings it to Zankel Hall on Saturday, and the Daedalus Quartet, a young American group, presents it at Weill Recital Hall on December 10. 

Twice winner of the Pulitzer Prize, first composer to receive the United States National Medal of Arts, one of the few composers ever awarded Germany's Ernst Von Siemens Music Prize, and in 1988 made "Commandeur dans l'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres" by the Government of France, Elliott Carter is internationally recognized as one of the leading American voices of the classical music tradition. 

First encouraged toward a musical career by his friend and mentor Charles Ives, Carter was recognized by the Pulitzer Prize Committee for the first time in 1960 for his groundbreaking compositions for the string quartet medium, and was soon thereafter hailed by Stravinsky for his Double Concerto for harpsichord, piano and two chamber orchestras (1961) and Piano Concerto (1967), both of which Stravinsky dubbed "masterpieces". While he spent much of the 1960s working on just two works, the Piano Concerto and Concerto for Orchestra (1969), the breakthroughs he achieved in those pieces led to an artistic resurgence that gathered momentum in the decades that followed. Indeed, one of the extraordinary features of Carter’s career is his astonishing productivity and creative vitality as he reaches the midpoint of his tenth decade. 

This creative burst began in earnest during the 1980s, which brought major orchestral essays such as Oboe Concerto (1986-87), Three Occasions (completed 1989) and his enormously successful Violin Concerto (1990), which has been performed in more than a dozen countries. A recording of the latter work on Virgin Classics, featuring Oliver Knussen conducting the London Sinfonietta with soloist Ole Böhn, won Carter a Grammy for Best Contemporary Composition of 1994. New recordings of Carter’s music appear continually, making him one of the most frequently recorded contemporary composers. 

Carter’s crowning achievement as an orchestral composer may be his 50-minute triptych Symphonia: sum fluxae pretium spei [ "I am the prize of flowing hope"], which received its first integral performance on April 25, 1998 with Oliver Knussen conducting the BBC Symphony Orchestra as part of the ISCM World Music Days in Manchester. A prize-winning recording of Symphonia by Knussen and the BBCSO has been released on Deutsche Grammophon. It is paired with Carter’s lively and playful Clarinet Concerto (1996), which has traveled widely in performances by the Ensemble InterContemporain, Orpheus, London Sinfonietta, Ensemble Modern, and several other distinguished ensembles.  Those works were followed by a pair of works for the Chicago Symphony Orchestra: Cello Concerto (2001), premiered by Yo-Yo Ma with the orchestra, and Of Rewaking (2003), an orchestral cycle of three songs on texts by William Carlos Williams. Boston Concerto, commissioned by the Boston Symphony Orchestra and premiered by the ensemble under Ingo Metzmacher, also made its debut in 2003.  The first few weeks of 2004 brought a pair of acclaimed new scores: Micomicon, a witty concert-opener for the Boston Symphony Orchestra, and the incisive Dialogues for piano and large ensemble, commissioned by the London Sinfonietta. 

Carter’s first opera, What Next?, commissioned by the Staatsoper Unter den Linden in Berlin, was introduced there in 1999 under Daniel Barenboim. The 45-minute work, to a libretto by Paul Griffiths, comments wryly on the human condition as its six characters, unhurt but confused, confront the aftermath of an auto accident. What Next? has been hailed by critics from around the world for its wit, assured vocal writing, and refined orchestration. 

Carter continues to show his mastery in smaller forms as well. Along with a large number of brief solo and chamber works, his later years have brought major essays such as Triple Duo (1983), Quintet (piano and winds, 1991), and String Quartet No.5 (1995), composed for the Arditti Quartet. Another dedicated advocate of Carter’s music, Ursula Oppens, joined forces with the Arditti Quartet to give the premiere of Quintet for Piano and String Quartet in November 1998 at the Library of Congress’s Coolidge Auditorium in Washington. 

A native of New York City, Carter has been compared as an artist to another New Yorker, Henry James, with whom he is seen to share multifaceted richness of vision and fastidiousness of craft based on intimate familiarity with Western (and in Carter's case, non-Western) artistic traditions. Like Henry James, Carter and his work reflect the impress of a lasting and deeply felt relationship with Europe, a relationship dating from adolescent travels with his father, nourished by study of the fruits of European artistic and intellectual culture, and cemented by a 3-year course of musical training in Paris with Nadia Boulanger during the period 1932-1935. 

Enriched through wide acquaintance with European artists, including many, such as Bartók and Stravinsky, who came to America during World War II, Carter has seen his work as widely appreciated and as actively encouraged overseas as in his own country. In 1987 the Paul Sacher Foundation moved to acquire all Carter's musical manuscripts, to be permanently maintained in a public archive in Basel alongside similarly comprehensive deposits of the manuscripts of Stravinsky, Boulez, Bartók, Hindemith, Strauss and other universally acknowledged 20th-century masters.

Music of Elliott Carter - Volume Five
Composer: Elliott Carter
Performer: Virgil Blackwell, Charles Rosen, et al.
Ensemble: Charles Neidich


December 1, 8 PM
Jenny Lin, Solo Piano
Lin will perform a program of music by composers from Italy and New York City that will include a world premiere of Oligosono by Elliott Sharp.  Ms Lin and Mr. Sharp will also present a pre-concert conversation about the creation of the new work at 7:00 p.m. 

Teatro of Columbia Universitys Italian Academy for Advanced Studies in America. 1161 Amsterdam Avenue between 116th and 118th Streets,  NYC.  Admission is $12 for the general public, $5 for students and seniors. Call 212 854 1623 or email rw2115@columbia.edu for reservations or information

December 8-11  8PM 10PM
This special mini festival brings together the best of the Masada Family in a kaleidoscopic premiere reading of 80 new tunes from the second book of Zorn's most popular musical project. $20 each set.  Tonic is located at 107 Norfolk Street between Delancey and Rivington Streets.

December 9-10  7:30PM
dis-regard: Mauricio Kagel / Phillis Ideal
A Sound/Image Event featuring the International Contemporary Ensemble
Rosenberg + Kaufman Fine Art, 115 Wooster Street between Prince and Spring, NYC.  Tickets are $15 General/$10 Student and Senior,  available at the door or in advance.   Call 212.431.4838 for more information.

December 10  7PM
Joel Fan, Solo Piano
Pianist Joel Fan who performs with the cellist Yo-Yo Ma and the Silk Road Ensemble, will give a solo recital of his favorite works. 

FAUST HARRISON PIANOS, 205 WEST 58TH STREET, (just west of 7th avenue), (212) 489-0666 $15 general admission: tickets at the door

December 11-12
WELCUM YULE - Six Centuries of Christmas Music
The Canticum Novum Singers and  Youth Choir  present a program of Christmas choral music from the Renaissance to the present, by Dufay, Ravel, Britten, Finzi, Honegger, Berlioz, Torme, Gillespie, and Swingle, including jazz settings and traditional carols.   Saturday, Dec. 11, 8 PM, St. Paul the Apostle Church, 415 W 59th St. on Columbus Avenue, NYC; Sunday, Dec. 12, 3 PM, St. Ignatius Episcopal Church, 552 West End Ave. on 87th Street, NYC.

TICKETS are $20, available at the door, or in advance through TicketCentral, 212-279-4200 or www.ticketcentral.com.

Send announcements to the Editors 

That's All Folks! 

Deborah Kravetz

Grab the popcorn, we're going to the movies! Cartoons, that is. Old ones, by Otto Messmer and Max Fleischer. So old, they require live performers to play the soundtrack. Relache takes advantage of this opportunity to improvise to Felix Saves the Day (1922) and to provide world premiere soundtracks by Diane Monroe to Jumping Beans (1922) and Arthur Jarvinen to The Ouija Board (1920). Added features are three pieces by Raymond Scott, arranged by guest artist Darin Kelly, and which are familiar to fans of old Looney Tunes.

The program opens with Panache (2001) by Joseph Koykkar, one of those perpetuum mobile pieces repeating a theme rapidly and repetitively, with variations, with great energy, just to make sure the audience is awake.

I have always enjoyed Diane Monroe's style of jazz violin, and this world premiere of the Relache commission Jumping Beans (2004) goes through a variety of styles. In this blend of animation and live acting, the cartoonist's creation gets out of his control and overruns the screen until he disappears back into the inkwell, and the music cooperates with appropriate whimsy.

Relache's improvisation to Felix Saves the Day is not unlike the way the original would have been done, but shows its own style and flair.

Arthur Jarvinen approaches the score of The Ouija Board in a world premiere commission with hints of the mysterious Orient and Halloween ghosts and magic as Koko the clown interferes with the live action characters.

With Raymond Scott's Twilight in Turkey, The Penguin and Powerhouse, here is classic cartoon music where the whimsy comes from the musical turns, repetition, wild runs and complex rhythms that make you want to get up and dance to the beat and just grin!

Earshot (2003) by Roshanne Etezady is another breakneck speed series of runs with several percussion solos that sound about to break into the theme from Mission Impossible. Mixed in with the cartoon improv and the Raymond Scott, it almost sounds familiar.

Future Sounds I: Comedy and Heroism
Prince Theater
Philadelphia, PA
November 12-14, 2004
Reposted Penn Sounds 11-22-04

The world is made up of the things we can see and touch. It also contains the spectral remains of things we’ve lost—languages, species, rituals, objects, people, technologies.

Bang on a Can's
Lost Objects at BAM

Lost Objects, the most ambitious production in Bang on a Can’s history and the second to emerge from its three-year partnership with the Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM) Next Wave Festival, debuts at BAM Tuesday night at 7 pm, with addditional performances December 2-4. 

A probing, ambitious work of music-theater by Michael Gordon, David Lang, and Julia Wolfe, the ceaselessly inventive composer-founders of Bang on a Can, with an engrossing libretto by Deborah Artman, Lost Objects explores the myriad implications of loss, and what it means to us when those things once lost are found.

These timeless themes find voice through the fusion of Baroque sound—performed by Germany’s internationally acclaimed Concerto Köln—and a hallucinatory, large-scale staging by director/filmmaker François Girard (32 Short Films About Glenn Gould, The Red Violin). Add the sonic finesse of DJ Spooky, remixing live, as well as four musicians on electric instruments, three solo vocalists, and a 28-voice choir, and the result is an ambitious look at the forgotten and mislaid objects that compose our continually vanishing culture.

"The staggering number of lost things makes the world seem littered with phantom sounds and objects, a jumbled hallucination of what no longer exists: languages, technologies, species, rituals, objects, people," writes Artman. 

Gordon, Lang, and Wolfe explore sounds inspired by the loss of objects as mundane as a sock or umbrella to things as irreplaceable as one's memory, a species of animal, or the language of a people. The composers further examine how a lost object can actually be a poignant symbol of individual lives, modern society, and spiritual obligations. Lost Objects, recorded on the Teldec label last year, not only addresses loss, but also what it means when those things once lost are found

Gordon, Lang, and Wolfe founded Bang on a Can in 1987, and serve as its co-artistic directors. Though they have distinctly individual musical voices that reflect diverse influences from classical music to rock, they work together with a closeness that is unique among their peers. The Wall Street Journal called the last BAM and Bang on a Can collaboration, "an event that seems to be an emblem of an era... because it shows us where we are." Through Bang on a Can, Gordon, Lang, and Wolfe have presented more than 150 musical events in New York City, including fifteen Bang on a Can Marathons, two of which were performed at BAM during the 2000 and 2001 Next Wave Festivals. Bang on a Can is now a presenter, a touring and recording ensemble (the Bang on a Can All-Stars), a commissioning body (The People's Commissioning Fund), a record label (Cantaloupe), and an educational institution for young composers (the Bang on a Can Summer Music Festival at Mass MoCA). 

Lost Objects 
Composers: Michael/ Lang, David/ Wolfe, Julia Gordon
Performer: Andrew Watts, Claudia Barainsky, et al.

Old Stuff
An Interview with Tobias Picker
Handmaid Tale's Debuts in English
Rautavaara Joins B&G 
Who's Afraid of Julia Wolfe
Derek Bermel's Soul Garden
 The Pianist: The Extraordinary 
True Story of Wladyslaw Szpilman
John Adams' Atomic Opera
A Bridge Not Far Enough
Turnage Signs With B&H
Sophie's Wrong Choice
Copland's Mexico
On Being Arvo
Rzewski Plays Rzewski
Praising Lee Hyla
David Lang's Passing Measures

Record companies, artists and publicists are invited to submit CDs to be considered for our Editor's Pick's of the month.  Send to: Jerry Bowles, Editor, Sequenza 21, 340 W. 57th Street, 12B, New York, NY 10019
             THIS WEEK'S PICKS

Different Trains
Composer:  Steve Reich
David Robertson,
Orchestre National de Lyon

This is a  new version of Reich's haunting 1988 masterpiece  (the original used four string quartets--both pre-recorded and live) prepared for 48 strings  by the composer at the suggestion of the conductor David Robertson.  The result further enhances the lyricism and emotional impact of this powerful piece, which contrasts the trains that young Reich rode across the United States to visit his divorced parents in the 1940s with  the trains of Nazi Germany during the same period.   It is  coupled with two other  major scores by Reich: Triple Quartet (1999) for 36 strings, and The Four Sections (1986), a "concerto for orchestra" that highlights each of the sections of the large symphony orchestra in turn

Symphonies 2 & 3
Composer: Philip Glass
Marin Alsop,
Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra

Marin Alsop conducts the Bournemouth symphony orchestra in extraordinary performances of Glass' Second and Third symphonies.  The  Second was comissioned by the Brooklyn Acadamy of Music and premiered there in 1994 by Dennis Russell Davies. The Third, which arrived only three years later,  is composed for chamber orchestra.   Lots of  polyharmonies, rousing finales, and fully-formed symphonic statements. Essential listening for anyone interested in contemporary music. 

Nuit des Hommes
Composer:  Per Nørgård
Markus Falkbring, viola
Helene Gjerris, mezzo-soprano
Andreas Hagman, violin
Kaare Hansen, conductor
Fredrik Lindström, cello
Helge Rønning, tenor
Bodil Rørbech, violin
Gert Sørensen, percussion
First performed  in 1996,  Nørgård called this  "… an opera of sorts …"  Whatever it is,  it is both radical and powerful.  Two singers, male and female, take on three roles each, as well as chorus, over the course of 65 minutes, augmented by two violins, viola, cello and percussion doubling electronic keyboards. The text comes from Guillaume Apollinaire's surreal and emotionally-charged poetry  inspired by the atrocities of World War, which also inspired  Shostakovich in his Fourteenth Symphony.  Raw and riveting.

The Chamber Music of Aaron Copland
Performers: Music From Copland House Michael Boriskin, Paul Lustig Dunkel, ensemble co-directors, Derek Bermel, clarinet, Michael Boriskin, piano, Paul Lustig Dunkel, flute, Nicholas Kitchen, violin, Wilhelmina Smith, cello 

Music From Copland House  is the resident ensemble at Aaron Copland's longtime New York home, now restored as a unique creative center for American music. Since its triumphant New York debut at the Opening Night of Merkin Concert Hall's 1999-2000 season, Music from Copland House has emerged as one of the most exhilarating and distinctive ensembles on the American music scene.  In this beautifully played two CD set,  they return to their roots--the extraordinarily rich chamber pieces of Aaron Copland, who would have been 104 on November 14.  This disk is a real sleeper.

The Piano Concertos,
Paganini Rhapsody
Composer:  Sergei Rachmaninov
Stephen Hough (piano),
Dallas Symphony Orchestra, Andrew Litton

You may find better individual performances of each of Rachmaninov's four  piano concertos (Leif Ove Ondnes's No, 3, for example) but this 2-disk set is hard to beat as a one-stop listening experience.  Cobbled together from 11 live performances over an 18-day period, the power chord, big sound,  sweeping Rachmaninov romanticism has never sounded, well, bigger or more romantic.   Littton is a Rocky Romantic Show specialist and it shows in the orchestra's splendid melding with Hough's oversized playing.  Highly recommended, even if you already have them all.

The Concerto Project 1
Composer: Philip Glass
Cello Concerto, 
Concerto Fantasy for Two Timpanists
and Orchestra
Julian Lloyd Webber (cello),
Evelyn Glennie (timpani),
Jonathan Haas (timpani),
Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra,
Gerard Schwarz
Orange Mountain 

Every shard of Glass seems to finding its way onto a CD nowadays and it's getting harder to tell the major Glass from the--forgive me--half Glass.  This is major Glass.  The Cello Concerto is a real beauty, played with real passion by Lloyd Webber and the RLP.  The timpani concerto is great, too, once you get past the thought that maybe Phil borrowed the opening from Lalo Schifrin.  This is the first of a series of four CDs that Philip Glass and Orange
Mountain Music have planned entitled The Concerto Project, No. I-IV Each
disc contains two concerti.

Mass - A Theatre Piece for
Singers, Players & Dancers
Composer:  Leonard Bernstein
Jerry Hadley (tenor),
Rundfunkchor Berlin,
Paci. c Mozart Ensemble,
Staats-und Domchor Berlin,
Deutsches Symphonie-
Orchester Berlin, Kent Nagano
harmonia mundi

What's a nice Jewish boy like Leonard Bernstein doing writing a Mass?  In this case, he was invited to do so by Jacqueline Kennedy for the opening of Kennedy Center in 1971.  This is Lennie at his most flamboyant, employing a big theatrical cast, mixed chorus, children’s choir, dancers and a rock band.  The libretto for Mass intersperses texts written by Bernstein and Stephen Schwartz (lyricist for Godspell) into the Roman Mass. The work explores the mass from the point of view of the Celebrant (sung by Jerry Hadley), who is experiencing a crisis of faith. The Celebrant’s faith is simple and pure at first, yet that faith gradually becomes unsustainable under the weight of human misery, corruption, and the trappings of human power. In the end, the Celebrant, on the verge of renouncing
his faith,  finds that the loneliness of his doubt is no match for the joy of gathering together with other believers
in praise. 

Composer:  Guiseppe Verdi
Michele Pertusi (bass),
Carlos Alvarez (tenor), Ana Ibarra (soprano), Marina Domashenko (mezzo-soprano), Jane Henschel (mezzo-soprano), Maria Josè Moreno (mezzo-soprano), Bülent Bezdüz (tenor),
London Symphony Orchestra & Chorus,
Sir Colin Davis
LSO Live

Hot on the heels of their highly  acclaimed recording of Britten’s Peter Grimes, Sir Colin Davis and the London Symphony Orchestra are joined by a magnificent cast led by Michele Pertusi for a spectacular performance of Verdi’s comic masterpiece, Falstaff.
Recorded during the LSO’s centenary celebrations in 2004, this new recording of Falstaff is one of the LSO Live’s finest performance to date.  Who needs major  record labels


Philadelphia Stories / UFO
Composer: Michael Daugherty
Performers: Evelyn Glennie, percussion / Colorado Symphony Orchestra / Marin Alsop, conductor 

Something of a coup for Naxos’ American Classics series matching world famous percussionist Evelyn Glennie with Gramophone Artist of the Year Marin Alsop and the Colorado Symphony Orchestra with one of America's most intriquing composers.  Daugherty has the uncanny ability to be all things to all listeners without seeming to comprise either seriousness or an enjoyable listening experience. 
Commissioned by the Philadelphia Orchestra in 2001, Philadelphia Stories is an orchestral travelogue of the sounds and rhythms of Philadelphia past and present.  UFO, written in 1999 for Evelyn Glennie, is inspired by unidentified flying objects and sounds, beginning with Traveling Music where the percussion soloist, in the guise of an alien from outer space, mysteriously enters the concert hall playing a waterphone and mechanical siren.

Orchestral Works
Composer: Harry Partch
Performer: Johnston, Pippin, et al.
 New World Records 

These works span the first six years of what American maverick composer Harry Partch (1901–1974) called the "third period" of his creative life. They show him moving away from the obsession with "the intrinsic music of spoken words" that had characterized his earlier output (the vocal works of 1930–33 and 1941–45) and towards an instrumental idiom, predominantly percussive in nature.  The Eleven Intrusions are among the most compelling and beautiful of Partch’s works. The individual pieces were composed at various times between August 1949 and December 1950, and only later gathered together as a cycle. Nonetheless they form a unified whole, with a nucleus of eight songs framed by two instrumental preludes and an essentially instrumental postlude.

Busoni the Visionary, Volume II
Jeni Slotchiver, piano

No one plays Busoni's piano music with greater clarity or depth of understanding than Jeni Slotchiver.  As she demonstrated in Volume I of this series, this is music she clearly loves and understands both intellectually and intuitively.  There is no finer, or more committed,  advocate for this greatly underrated composer  working today.  See Slotchiver's notes on Busoni the Visionary here.

Chamber Works
Composer: Dan Locklair 
Albany Records

Dan Locklair is an organist by trade and although he has written a wide body of works--his prolific output includes symphonic works, a ballet, an opera and numerous solo, chamber, vocal and choral compositions--one may be forgiven for identifying him first with that glorious instrument.  These chamber works show that Locklair's command of musical language is  far broader and deeper than a single instrument.   These fresh and engaging works are musically challenging and yet a real treat for the ear. 



Music in Fifths/Two Pages
Composer: Phillip Glass
Performer: Bang on a Can

These are transcriptions of two early Glass works ("Fifths," originally performed and recorded by Philip Glass with Jon Gibson and Dickie Landry in the original version for saxophones and electric organ)  and ("Two Pages", originally  done by Philip Glass on electric organ and Michael Riesman on piano). 

As always the Bang on a Can All Stars do a... well... bang up job and bring a fresh perspective to  two of the seminal works of Glass' early career. 


Orchestral Works
Composer:  Herman D. Koppel
Nina Kavtaradze (piano) 
Aalborg Symphony Orchestra/Moshe Atzmon 

This is the third volume of the symphonies of the Danish composer Herman D Koppel who lived from 1908 to 1998 and wrote seven symphonies between 1930 and 1961.  Born in Copenhagen the son of Polish Jewish immigrants, Koppel fled to Sweden during World War II and his Symphony No. 3, written there, is an intensely personal work that mirrors the fears and anxieties of that period.  No. 5 is more hopeful and steady but lacks the raw energy of the 3rd. 

Guernica, Symphony no 4, Zapata 
Composer: Leonardo Balada 
Barcelona Symphony and Catalonia National Orchestra/Salvador Mas Conde 

Balada’s Guernica, completed in 1966, during the height of the Viet Nam War, was  inspired by Picasso’s large-scale mural of 1937, which has come to represent a  protest piece against all wars.  Balada writes in a personal modern idiom, although there are traces of his apprenticeships with Dello Joio and Aaron Copland.  Neither a serialist nor neo-classisist Balada is modern in ways that are highly individual and sometimes hard to follow.  But, he's an original and a little patience from the listener is well worth the effort. 

Symphonies Nos: 4, 5, 6
Composer: Josef  Tal 
NDR RadioPhilharmonie/Israel Yinon 

German-born Israeli composer Josef Tal, whose work I had never heard from this CD, is said to have  derived his musical style from the second Viennese school and has remained an unrepentant modernist. He has also been an innovator and pioneer, one of the first to combine a live instrument with a studio-generated tape recording; he founded the Israel Center for Electronic Music and imported the first Moog Synthesizer into his adopted country. These three symphonies reveal a composer with a strong personal voice working at the height of his powers.  Very powerful. 

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