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.

Alisa Weilerstein Meets Elliott Carter (Video)

When I heard about Elliott Carter’s passing on Monday, many thoughts went went through my mind, including wondering whether the composer had gotten to hear cellist Alisa Weilerstein’s exquisite performance of his Cello Concerto. Her interpretation on a new disc from Decca is a distinctive one, rivaling previous interpreters Yo-Yo Ma and Fred Sherry in terms of technical acumen and bringing a dramatic heft to the piece’s solo part that is most impressive. I hadn’t yet seen the video (embedded below) of a meeting this past summer of Weilerstein and Carter, in which the composer coaches her through some of the concerto’s trickiest passages. Alex Ross posted it yesterday on The Rest is Noise and I’m grateful to see Carter in a convivial mood, wit undiminished and with musical insights aplenty to share.

If you haven’t heard the recording, I strongly recommend it. Not only is Weilerstein’s performance of the Carter noteworthy, she, along with the Staatskapelle Berlin conducted by Daniel Barenboim, also presents a beautifully vibrant performance of the Elgar Concerto and a supple rendition of Bruch’s Kol Nidre.

Stifters Dinge on ECM (CD Review)

Heiner Goebbels
Stifters Dinge
ECM Records New Series CD

Stifters Dinge is a “soundtrack album” for a 2007 theatrical installation by composer/director Heiner Goebbels.The work features five mechanical pianos that were reconfigured to produce all sorts of sounds, pianistic and otherwise. Spoken word excerpts by famous figures — Claude Levi-Strauss, William S. Burroughs, and Malcom X — along with Bill Patterson’s mellifluous reading of a text by the work’s titular figure, Romantic era writer Adelbert Stifter, are joined by field recordings from far flung destinations: Greece, Latin America, and Papua New Guinea .

Photo: © Mario del Curto. Used with kind permission.

Integral to the work’s staging are elemental components: water, ice, smoke, stones, etc. These supply still another layer of the recording’s sound world. Often, as one finds with the crackling ice recordings heard during Patterson’s narration, these natural sounds take on a role supportive of the piece’s narrative. Elsewhere they seem to be part of its abstract musical fabric. The music itself is of similarly varigated design. The mechanical pianos sometimes make utterances closer to the realm of found sound and experimental electronics. These are mixed with more identifiably pianistic scalar passages. Chromatic clusters and, contrastingly, a bit of Bach’s Italian Concerto, make appearances.

Photo © Mario del Curto. Used with kind permission.

Of course, questions of identity are inevitably posed when confronting any work by Goebbels: what does this accumulation of disparate stuff mean? Does it cohere? I can’t answer the first question, as I’m certain that there as many pathways into Stifters Dinge as there are elements contained within it. And the second question is elusive too. Goebbels allows his materials to share the same space without forcing them into congruity. Instead, the listener (and, in the case of a live performance, viewer) is invited to engage with a design built out of elements that are in a variety of relationships with one another: sometimes in tension or opposition and at others in accord. And, one finds that when these simpatico sonic meetings happen, like oases in the midst of flux, they are often quite moving. Thus, Goebbels treats both the sounds with which he composes and the listeners who attend to them with a great deal of respect. Stifters Dinge may require much, even from a thoughtful listener, but it rewards them with an imaginative labyrinth of appealing sounds to explore.

Paul Banks: “Young Again” (YouTube)

Interpol’s Paul Banks has released a solo album, titled Banks, via Matador. Today the official video for album track “Young Again” was released. It points out that, when one puts aside the selective amnesia and nostalgia, some aspects of feeling “young again” aren’t all they’re cracked up to be.

Tour Dates
November
Saturday 03 – Austin, TX – Fun Fun Fun Fest
Friday 09 - Washington, DC – The Howard Theater
Saturday 10 – Philadelphia, PA - The Trocadero
Tuesday 13 – New York, NY – Studio @ Webster Hall
Thursday 29 – Las Vegas, NV – House Of Blues (Las Vegas)
Friday 30 – Santa Ana, CA – The Observatory

December
Saturday 01 – San Francisco, CA – Slim’s
Monday 03 – San Diego, CA – House of Blues San Diego
Wednesday 05 – Los Angeles, CA – The Fonda Theater

Swans: “The Apostate” (live video)

Swans is celebrating their thirtieth anniversary in style. This year has seen the release of a 2xCD, The Seer, and a world tour, currently in progress. Even though Swans’s leader Michael Gira has reached sexagenarian status, the band still plays in a ferociously physical and thunderously intense fashion. Witness a sampling in the live video embedded below, an edited version of “The Apostate.”

the apostate (edit) from Marco Porsia on Vimeo.