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   December 23-30, 2002

Art of the States
Comes to the Web
Let's say you woke up this morning with an irresistible yen to hear George Crumb's piano piece  A Little Suite for Christmas, A.D. 1979.  Well, person of unusually bold taste, if your computer has a sound card and speakers, you are in luck. 

Boston's public radio station WBGH has assembled an amazing collection of recordings of contemporary American concert music from its Art of the States programs on its Web site, artofthestates.org. The site features music from across the United States, with a focus on new, unusual, and lesser-known works. 

These are not sample snippets but complete works by American composers that you can listen to on the site. There is also a huge resource of information about the pieces, composers, and performers, and you can explore the  music archive using a simple and flexible search engine. You can also browse by composer--from Adams to Zorn and everyone in between.

 Art of the States has been expanding audiences for United States-based composers and performers Since 1993 through its international radio music distribution service.

The program began as an outgrowth of WGBH Radio's longstanding participation in musical exchange with the broadcasters of the European Broadcasting Union (EBU) and its commitment to the living composers and performers of the US. 

For the past nine years the station has collected performances and recordings of a wide range of music from all across the US, focusing on new, unusual, and lesser-known repertoire. Selected works are presented in monthly program offerings which are organized thematically and accompanied by notes on the music, composers, and performers. These are shipped to interested radio producers in 50 countries, who themselves produce programs based on this material in their own language and broadcast style.

Through the medium of radio, Art of the States has provided an international audience of tens of millions of listeners worldwide with a deeper and more diverse view of our country's musical life.

Launched only a few months ago, the Art of the States website now offers this service to web listeners in both the United States and abroad. With high-quality audio streams, extensive program notes, and links to related websites of composers, performers, publishers, and record labels, the objective is  to expand domestic audiences for this music just as the staton's radio service continues to do for international audiences.

Art of the States is the recipient of the ASCAP-Deems Taylor Broadcast Award in radio for 1997 and a number of awards from the Shanghai International Radio Music Festival. The program has received grants from the Aaron Copland Fund for Music and the Massachusetts Cultural Council; ongoing funding is provided by the National Endowment for the Arts and the Island Fund.

Check it out.  And, yes, you'll find the Crumb Christmas suite there--all 14:39 seconds of it.   JB 

What's Recent

Rzewski Plays Rzewski
Praising Lee Hyla
David Lang's Passing Measures
Three Tales at BAM
Naxos at 15
On the Transmigration of Souls
Dead Man Walking
David Krakauer's The Year After
Steve Reich/Alan Pierson
The Good Solider Schweik
Neely Bruce Loves a Parade
John Cage's 90th Anniversary
Michael Gordon's Decasia
Bright Sheng's Silver River
 Earle Brown Dies
Oliver Knussen at 50
John Eaton's "...inasmuch" Debuts
Interview with Gloria Coates
Entering the 21st Century with
Kitty Brazelton
Julia Wolfe after minimalism
Philip Glass at 65
Interview with Poul Ruders
Our writers welcome your comments on their pieces.  Send your witty bon mots to jbowles@sequenza21.com and we might even publish some of them here.  And, don't forget--if you'd like to write for Sequenza21 (understanding that we have no money to pay you), send me a note. JB

Looking For Composers With Heart "American composers have long maintained an impersonal veneer." For much of the 20th Century they oozed technique - lots of grey matter spilled all over the pages of their scores. But "with compositional masks falling in recent years, there comes a crisis of style: What's the musical language of the 21st-century heart?" Philadelphia Inquirer 12/22/02 

Piano Recitals - M.I.A. Charles Michener laments the death of the piano recital. "For some time now, I have remarked on a development that, while less dramatic than the Bolsheviks’ overthrow of the Tsar, represents a considerable loss: the disappearance of the piano recital as a staple of New York’s concert scene. Among the world’s generous supply of first-class pianists, only a handful of the most famous ones are heard with anything like regularity in our major halls, and then generally not more than once a year. Piano competitions continue to turn out the next Horowitzes at an alarming rate, but how these prodigies manage to make careers is a mystery, given that virtually none of them are ever heard hereabouts." New York Observer 12/18/02 

Dallas Opera Cancels "Tassie" The Dallas Opera has cancelled the North American premiere of Mark-Anthony Turnage's 'The Silver Tassie,' saying that "the cancellation of the antiwar opera was due to financial considerations and political sensitivities in the wake of the September 11th attack on the World Trade Center." Andante 12/19/02 

Will Baz Boheme Spoil Opera For Those Who Already Love Opera? Anthony Tommasini is impressed by the glare and glitter of Baz Luhrmann's Broadway Boheme. "Yet from a musical perspective, many veteran opera buffs will be dismayed, as I was, by the compromises the production has made. Newcomers to opera who think they are experiencing the real thing are not. For all the dazzle and heart of this Broadway "Bohème," I sat through three shows (to see the three pairs of rotating leads) getting more and more glum about the future of opera. Will traditional companies that play by the rules be able to keep up as the public embraces amplified opera on Broadway?" The New York Times 12/22/02 

The Right Version of "Correct" So what does "authentic" mean in music? When there are 14 manuscript versions of a Mahler score, what were the composer's final final thoughts? "Two years of note-picking research in Vienna have exposed almost 400 errors and oversights in the published score" of Mahler's Second Symphony. On the other hand, maybe all 14 versions are "correct" in their own way. "It's not wrong. In all 14 of Mahler's scores he wants it to sound that way." La Scena Musicale 12/19/02 

Recently-Discovered Mahler Score May have Been Annotated By Another "A recently found score of Gustav Mahler's First Symphony, said to contain the composer's own handwritten revisions, actually may have been annotated by someone else, a scholar said Tuesday." Nando Times (AP) 12/17/02 

Music 10, Words 0... Many an otherwise good opera has been ruined by a dreadful libretto. "Why do composers ever assume that they can write their own words? There's nothing which makes the heart sink, going into an opera, like the words 'Music and libretto by ...' Very few good operas have ever been written to a composer's own words..." The Independent (UK) 12/10/02 

The Anti-Music Of Phones Increasingly, our time in public is being interrrupted with music. Music? I guess that's what they call those customized ring tones that cell phones make. "The proliferation of cellular phones has put the power of automatic melody into the pockets of your friends and neighbours, and there's no freezer on Earth big enough to hide all the cheesy sounds they can produce." The Globe & Mail (Canada) 12/21/02 

 Last Week's News

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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, NY, NY 10019  Also, feel free to nominate your favorite composer-- even if it's you--for Spotlight of the Week.
Caught in the Act
Orchestra 2001 Detours to 
Schnittke, Bartok, Brahams
Founded and directed by conductor/pianist/ bassist James Freeman, Orchestra 2001 is generally a one-on-a-part ensemble. The core personnel numbers fifteen musicians, but many concerts involve additional players, often making the ensemble into a 30 piece chamber orchestra. Orchestra 2001's repertoire is devoted almost entirely to music of the 20th century, especially by American composers. 

by Deborah Kravetz

In a program featuring pieces for two violins, two pianos and violin with cello, Orchestra 2001 presented the area premiere of Alfred Schnittke’s Concerto Grosso no. 3 for Two Solo Violins and Chamber Orchestra (1985). The piece was composed for the 300th anniversary of J. S. Bach’s birthday, and so the composer, who died in 1998, incorporated many Bachian references.

He has described the piece as beginning “neo-classically, but after some minutes the museum explodes, and we stand with the fragments of the past before the dangerous and uncertain present.” And, indeed, the opening is almost pure Bach, that almost immediately begins going subtly astray in a small fluttery way, before the sudden dissonance sets in; yet the rhythm of the soloists continues, until all dwindles to a unison buzz at the end of the Allegro. 

In Risoluto, the soloists valiantly strive to re-establish the opening theme by themselves. When the ensemble does join them, the mood is energetic, but chilly, with a separate tonality they struggle with, to a sudden and percussive finish. The final three movements are played without pause; fragmented classics, indeed, soloists, unison strings and harpsichord take turns with bleak and harsh phrases.

Schnittke was appropriately followed by the bleak but percussively dynamic Concerto for Two Pianos, Percussion and Orchestra (1940) by Bela Bartok. Here, the paired pianos are more in counterpoint than duet, and the ear is captured by the rising and falling waves of rhythm and complexity.
After a tart appetizer and meaty entrée, the Brahms Concerto for Violin, Cello and Orchestra, Op. 102 (1887) was a sweet dessert, with echoes of the tart and savory that preceded it.

(Reposted from Penn Sounds 12/19/02.)

Mixed Doubles
Perelman Hall, Kimmel Center
December 13, 2002

Miller Theatre: 
2002-03 Season at a Glance
Classical Grammy Winners

Previous Interviews/Profiles
Simon Rattle, Michael Gordon,Benjamin Lees, Scott Lindroth, David Felder, Mark-Anthony Turnage, Erkki-Sven Tüür,John Luther Adams, Brett Dean, Judith Lang Zaimont, Meyer Kupferman, Evan Chambers, Poul Ruders, Steven R. Gerber, Gloria Coates

Previous Articles/
Busoni The Visionary
The Composer of the Moment:  Mark-Anthony Turnage
Electronic Music
Voices: Henze at 75
Henze Meets Emenim
On Finding Kurtag
Charles Ruggles:  When Men Were Men
Ballet Mécanique
The Adams Chronicles


I Have Heard it Said That a Spirit Enters … / Music of Gavin Bryars
Composer:  Gavin Bryars
Performers:  CBC RO  Orchestra, 
Holly Cole
Gavin Bryars never failed me yet.  Nearly 75 minutes of glorious melancholy from one of the two or three truly great ones, including three wonderful songs sung by Canadian jazz singer Holly Cole, a violin concerto, a gorgeous  riff on the last fragment of music Wagner wrote before he died, and a long, haunting, extended adagio featuring the man himself on double bass.  Better, it does not get.

Rappaccini's Daughter (Highlights) / Obsidian Butterfly
Composer:  Daniel Catan
Performer(s):  Vazquez, Mora, Suaste, Diazmunoz
Naxos - #8557034 
Daniel Catán, Mexico's best living  composer, was born in Mexico City in 1949. A Sephardic Jew of Russian descent, he spend his first 14 years in Mexico, relocating to England to study philosophy and music.  After several years at Sussex and Southampton, he moved to the United States, where he earned his Ph.D. at Princeton under the tutelage of Milton Babbitt.   Catán's highly melodic style owes more to Mahler's lieder than to Babbit, however. Rappaccini's Daughter was premiered in 1994 by the San Diego Opera and established Catán as a force in "magic realist" opera.

Indian Sounds (Symphony No. 8)
Composer: Gloria Coates
Conductor: Jorgen Wirrmann
Ensemble: Musica-viva-ensemble Dresden
 New World Records - #80599 
Gloria Coates, one of the most original voices in modern music,  is best known for her symphonies but here she draws  on her experience as a singer to create a work filled with ghostly voices that hint at horrors too awful to behold. The eighth symphony for voices and orchestra draws texts from Seneca, Winnebago, and Plains Indian songs. Coates once more demonstrates that modernism and humanism are not only compatible impulses--together, they can be life-enhancing. 


Light That Fills the World
Composer: John Luther Adams
Cold Blue Label - #10 
Darkness and light are defining realities for the  people, plants and animals who live in far northern climes and the abrupt and possibly deadly boundaries that separate these two extremes  lie at the heart of Adams austure music. Brillant, crystalline waves of sound conjure a deceptively beautiful landscape in which light is life and darkness can quickly lead to extinction. Adams’ music is never less than spellbinding. 

Desire Under the Elms
Composer: Edward Thomas
Conductor: George Manahan
  Performers: Jerry Hadley, James Morris, et al.
Naxos - #8669001-02 
 Desire Under the Elms  was composed in 1978 and has been performed only rarely since.  Thomas describes it as  "a folk opera" and that is about right--the work is built of melodies that are simple and uncomplicated.  Pleasant enough--perhaps too easy to like--but the real mystery here is how the producers landed big stars like Jerry Hadley and James Morris for a vehicle that frankly isn't going anywhere.  Still, if American opera is your obsession, you've got to have it.

Composer: Heiner Goebbels
 Ecm Records - #461648 
 Goebbels pays homage to a formative influence, German composer Hanns Eisler (1898-1962).  At the heart of the work are the touching songs of exile, which Eisler wrote together with Brecht, sung by German actor Josef Bierbichler. There are also montages from an original documentation with Eisler's voice, newly arranged excerpts from Eisler's chamber music, fragments from an unpublished string quartet a newly discovered composition for solo clarinet, and Eisler-inspired improvisations 


Shulamit Ran
 Composer: Shulamit Ran
 New World Records - #80554 
Two solo works—Fantasy Variations (1979/rev.1984) for cello and Verticals (1982) for piano—and two works for trio, Excursions (1980) and Soliloquy (1997) form the basis of this splendid display of Ran's highly individual approach to atonality, which is more drama than science, more harmony than dissonant, unexpectedly lush, and filled with an exaggerated  sense of movement. 


Piano Concerto No. 1
Composer: Ernst Toch
Performer: Crow, piano; NDR—Hamburg Symphony Orchestra,  Botstein, conductor
New World Records # 80609 
The Ernst Toch rediscovery marches on with an excellent performance of his Piano Concerto 1, written in Germany before the composer fled Hitler's rule and settled in Hollywood.  Severe, atonal, and not-at-all user friendly, the concerto is balanced on this CD by three lighter pieces-- Pinocchio,  Peter Pan, and Big Ben--which sound like they were written by a man getting his resume in order for Louis B. Mayer.

Frankie and Johnny
Composer: Jerome Moross
Performer(s):  Barrick, Edds, Kesling, Rosenberg
 Naxos - #8559086
"But, he was her man, nearly all the time..."  Wonderfully atmospheric rendering of the complete ballet-- Frankie and Johnny--commissioned by Ruth Page of the Chicago Ballet. To the degree that he is remembered at all,  Moross is best-known for the film score of The Big Country but even bigger things were expected of him. Born in New York on August 1, 1913, Morass began piano lessons at age five and composing by age eight. In 1924, he became the youngest child ever to graduate from a New York City Public School up to that time.

Piano Concerto Nos. 1 & 2; Rhapsody on Ukranian Themes
Composer: Sergey Mikhaylovich Lyapunov
 Conductor: Martyn Brabbins
Performer: Hamish Milne
Hyperion - #67326 
Another terrific piano concerto by a composer you never heard of in Hyperion's huge and indispensible 
catalog of romantic piano concerti.  Continuing proof that there is piano music of worth beyond Rachmaninoff and Grieg.

Symphonies Nos. 3 & 9
Composer: Heitor Villa-Lobos
Conductor: Carl St. Clair
Cpo Records - #999712 )
Villa-Lobos has undergone a resurgence in recent years as more of his symphonic and chamber work has appeared in first-rate performances.  The result has been a much-deserved elevation in stature from composer of charming little tunes for the guitar to major composer in virtually all genre.  Fabulous and committed playing.

All Rivers at Once
Composer: Phillip Schroeder
Performer: Duo Savage
Capstone - # 8709)
Hints of Mahler and the late Romantics run through these lovely pieces performed by Duo Savage, consisting of Susan Savage (oboe and English horn) and Dylan Savage (piano and synthesiser). This is haunting, beautiful, music that transports the listener to a world that is considerably more genteel than one in which we live. 


Violin Sonatas
Composer: Sergey Prokofiev
Performer(s): Andrey Bielov
 Naxos - #8555904
Another brilliant prodigy making kid's play out of pieces that many adult players find gnarly, indeed.  This could be the start of something big.

Eric Stokes
Composer: Eric Stokes
 Performer: Michael Lowenstern, Heather Barringer, et al.
New World Records - #80596
"Music is for the people," Eric Stokes once wrote. " For all of us: the dumb,the deaf, the dogs and jays, handclappers,
dancing moon watchers, brainy puzzlers, abstracted v whistlers, finger-snapping time keepers, crazy, weak, hurt, weed keepers, the strays. The land of 
music is everyone’s nation—her tune, his beat, your drum—one song, one vote." Once mentioned in the same breath as Ives and Cage, Stokes has  fallen off  the charts in recent times. 
This is the first recording devoted entirely to his work and its shows a lively musical intelligence that deserves further listening.

Piano Music Vol. 4
Composer: Olivier Messiaen
Performer: Hakon Austbo
Naxos - #8554655
Messiaen is this year's flavor of the month as record companies continue to  turn out dozens of  versions of his works both large and small.  This Naxos series is the best bargain of the lot, with wonderful, well-recorded performances that reflect the growth of Messiaen's reputation as one of the giants of 20th century music.

Orchestra Music
Composer: Silvestre Revueltas
Conductor: Enrique Barrios
Aguascalientes Symphony Orchestra
Naxos - #8555917 
All the greatest hits of Mexico's  best dead composer, performed marvelously by a sympathetic orchestra, at a bargain basement price.  If you don't know Revueltas' work, shut down the computer immediately, run to the nearest CD store, plop down your money and prepare to be amazed.

SEQUENZA21/is published weekly by Sequenza21/, 340 W. 57th Street, 12B, New York, NY 10019
Publisher:  Duane Harper Grant  (212) 582-4153
Editors:    Jerry & Suzanne Bowles   (212) 582-3791
Contributing Editor: Deborah Kravetz 
(C) Sequenza/21 LLC 2000

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