Dan Visconti’s Lonesome Roads (CD Review)

Dan Visconti
Lonesome Roads
Scharoun Ensemble Berlin; Horszowski Trio
Bridge Records CD

 

Lonesome Roads is Dan Visconti’s first solo disc.  Just thirty, the composer certainly has lots of talent and relishes the challenges posed by projects inspired by disparate musical styles. In particular, Visconti loves to combine American traditional music with various strains of concert music. When his postmodern magpie approach works, as it abundantly does on the title piece, a seven-movement suite at turns rhapsodic, folksy and hypermodern, the results are affecting. Similarly, Low Country Haze mixes clarinet in Coplandesque Americana mode with flute rasps and bends, punctuating percussion, and neo-romantic string swoons.

 

Elsewhere, there’s some inconsistency. While the individual sound schemes are the most adventurous assayed by the composer, the juxtapositions found in Fractured Jams feel forced, and the results, particularly in the closing ragtime movement, underwhelm. “Remembrances,” a post-romantic piano ballad, in places is overly sentimental; even schmaltzy. Black Bend, a piece for amplified string quintet that’s a showcase for the first violin, is even more problematic. It is an object lesson for one of the challenges facing polystylistic creatives: if you transplant a highly identifiable element into another medium, it may not work out well. So, all emerging crossover composers repeat after me: bluesy box riffs and Berlin-based string ensembles do not, based on the evidence supplied here, appear to mix well. If the accompaniment doesn’t swing it doesn’t matter how fiery the fiddle hoedown is down front.

 

Like Black Bend’s tale of two dissimilar demeanors, one sizzling and another mawkish, the Lonesome Roads CD leaves a decidedly mixed impression of Visconti’s work.

 

 

Saturday: Tallis Scholars at St. Mary’s (Concerts)

Tonight I’m covering the Tallis Scholars, who are performing “Masterpieces for Double Choir” at the Church of St. Mary the Virgin as part of Miller Theatre’s early music series. Selections include works by Lassus, Vivanco, Arvo Pärt (I’m interested to hear the Tallis Scholars sing this composer’s work!), and Praetorius. Below here a sample of their rendition of the latter’s “In Dulci Jubilo.”

 

Event Details
Saturday, December 1, 2012
8:00 PM
Church of St. Mary the Virgin (145 W. 46th Street)

To order tickets online: click here

Composer Concordance Festival Starts Friday

Celebrating the “Growing Diversity of Music,” Composers Concordance, a new music consortium and record label, presents its second festival from Nov. 30 – Dec. 7. Over the course of five concerts, one will get to hear works in a variety of styles and different forces: electroacoustic, chamber music, amplified ensemble music, and works for chamber orchestra.

On Friday the 30th, CC joins forces with Vox Novus, presenting a “60X60″ mix of one-minute electroacoustic works. I just learned on Monday that my “Gilgamesh Variation” is one of the pieces in the mix. The show is at Spectrum (details below).

Festival Details

Concert #1: 60 x 60
Instrumentation: Electronic Music / Multimedia
60 Electronic Composers
Friday, November 30th at 8pm at Spectrum
121 Ludlow Street, 2nd floor, NYC – Tickets $10

Concert #2: Soli
Instrumentation: Solo
Kathleen Supové, Eleonor Sandresky, & Jed Distler
Saturday, December 1st at 7pm at Faust Harrison Pianos
207 West 58th Street, NYC
Free Event – Note: seating is limited. RSVP: info@faustharrisonpianos.com 

Concert #3: Composers Play Composers Marathon
Instrumentation: Solo, Duo, Trio
30 Composer-Performers
Sunday, December 2nd from 3pm to 7pm at Drom NYC
85 Avenue A, NYC
Tickets $15 (includes one drink)

Concert #4: Nine Live
Instrumentation: Ensemble
Composers Concordance Ensemble
Tuesday, December 4th at 7:30pm at Shapeshifter Lab
18 Whitwell Place, Brooklyn
Tickets $10

Concert #5: Legends
Instrumentation: Chamber Orchestra
Composers Concordance Chamber Orchestra (CCCO), Lara St. John – violin, Valerie Coleman – flute, Thomas Carlo Bo – conductor
Friday, December 7th at 8pm at DiMenna Center – Mary Flagler Cary Hall
450 West 37th Street, NYC
$20 day of performance, $15 students and advance tickets
Tickets: http://ccco_evolution.eventbrite.com/

Monday: NJPE Premieres works by Morris and Jarvis

The New Music Series at William Paterson University has long been one of the most interesting musical destinations in the Garden State. On Monday, November 26th, its director, Peter Jarvis, along with the New Jersey Percussion Ensemble and guest pianist Taka Kigawa, present an ambitious evening of music that includes works by leading lights Boulez, Ligeti, Babbitt, Carter, and Stravinsky. In addition, 21st century composers Daniel Levitan, Evan Hause, and Gene Pritsker are also represented on the program.

If that weren’t enough, the concert features two premieres. Jarvis conducts his Concerto for Vibraphone and Percussion Sextet; WPU faculty member John Ferrari will play the solo part. Guest composer Robert Morris has contributed another pocket concerto for percussion ensemble to the proceedings. His Stream Runner (2007), written for marimba soloist Payton MacDonald (also a member of WPU’s faculty). will conclude the evening.

Event Details

Monday, Nov. 26, 2012
7:30 PM in Shea Center’s
Shea Auditorium
Suggested contribution $5
(Free for students)

William Paterson University
College of Arts & Communication
Department of Music
present
New Music Series
Peter Jarvis, Director
music
with guests
Robert Morris – Composer
Taka Kigawa – Pianist
and featuring
The New Jersey Percussion Ensemble
with soloists
John Ferrari, Payton MacDonald, and Peter Jarvis

Jonny Greenwood plays Steve Reich (Video)

Below is an embed of Jonny Greenwood playing Steve Reich’s Electric Counterpoint.

 

For more contemporary classical excursions by the talented Radiohead guitarist, check out his split release with Penderecki on Nonesuch, one of our favorite releases of 2012.

Jörg Widmann: Elegie (CD Review)

Jörg Widmann
Elegie

Widmann, clarinet; Heinz Holliger, oboe;
Deutsche Radio Philharmonie, Christoph Poppen, conductor

ECM New Series 2110

39 year old Jörg Widmann is a virtuoso clarinetist and one of Germany’s rising stars in the realm of music composition. Both of these aspects of his talents are on display in a new portrait disc released by ECM Records. Christoph Poppen, one of the label’s mainstays (another multi-talented musician – a fine violinist and conductor) leads the Deutsche Radio Philharmonie in a program that displays Widmann as a musician with a diversity of interests and a multi-faceted compositional toolkit to match.

The disc’s title work features Widmann playing a plethora of extended techniques, haloed by orchestral writing that is primarily atmospheric with occasional fierce outbursts. Messe, despite its moniker and movement titles mirroring the Ordinary of the liturgy, is for large orchestra sans voices. Fastidious attention is given to contrapuntal details in several “contrapuncti” movements. Elsewhere a juxtaposition of weighty tutti and long-breathed angular melodies provide some surprising textural shifts.

Fünf Bruchstücke (1997) are early works that feature clarinet and oboe. The latter duties are fulfilled by oboist/composer Heinz Holliger (another formidable double threat!). The two are given many opportunities to display the extended technical capabilities of their respective instruments. But it is the sense of cat and mouse interaction and the energetic elan that typifies much of the compositions’ demeanor that make them far more captivating than many a virtuoso showcase.

Widmann weds musicality and technical facility seamlessly. While the episodic nature of this program gives tantalizing glimpses of his potential, one looks forward to the composer/clarinetist expanding his horizons to larger formal designs on a future recording.

Righteous Girls Rescheduled to 1/14

Thrilled that Gina Izzo and Erika Dohi haven’t had their Righteous Girls performance at Cornelia Street Cafe thwarted by Storm Sandy. Then venue was kind enough to reschedule the show to January 14 at 8:30 PM. They will be giving the first live performance of my duo “For Milton:” written in memory of Milton Babbitt.

Event Details
Classical at the Cornelia
Righteous Girls- Gina Izzo, flute, and Erika Dohi, piano,
plus artist Zlata Kolomoyskaya and pianist Tristan McKay
Music by John Cage, Paul Brantley, Judd Greenstein & Randy Woolf
as well as new pieces by Christian Carey, Tristan McKay & Michael Patterson

Monday January 14 at 8:30 PM
Cornelia Street Café
29 Cornelia Street
New York, NY 10014
Phone: 212.989.9319
$10.00 cover plus $10.00 minimum

Friday and Saturday: C4 Ensemble

C4. Photo: Keith Goldstein.

For those of us here in New York and New Jersey, the past few weeks have been challenging. In the wake of Storm Sandy, we trust that better days are yet to come, but the present’s outlook is a bit dodgy. Some forward thinking optimism, particularly of the musical variety, is keenly welcome.

This weekend, C4 Ensemble, a collective of composers, conductors, and singers committed to new music (most wearing multiple hats in terms of their respective roles in the group), presents Music for People Who Like the Future.

Spotlighting the North American premiere of Andrew Hamilton’s Music for People Who Love the Future (hmm… I wonder if this title gave them the idea for the name of the show …), the program also features music by Chen Yi, Michael McGlynn, Sven-David Sandström, Phillipe Hersant, and Ted Hearne along with C4’s own Jonathan David, Mario Gullo, David Harris, and Karen Siegel.

Event Details 
Friday, November 16, 2012
The Church of St. Luke in the Fields
487 Hudson Street, NYC 10014
8 P.M.
$15 advance / $25 day of event/ 10 $4 “Rush” admissions 30 minutes advance at the door
Closest Subway:  1 to Christopher Street/Sheridan Square

Saturday, November 17, 2012
Mary Flagler Cary Hall at The DiMenna Center
450 W. 37th Street, NYC 10018
8 P.M.
$15 advance / $25 day of event / 10 $4 “Rush” admissions 30 minutes advance at the door
Closest Subways:  A/C/E to 34th Street/Penn Station
Reception to follow