MP3 Blog # 112: Jo Kondo

Jo Kondo: Under the Umbrella (1976)

Movement I

Movement II

Movement III

Movement IV

For 25 almglocken and 1 gong

Performed by Nexus

Buy it on CD from the label

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Liner Notes from the CD:

Under the Umbrella (1976), was written for, and premiered by, the Canadian percussion group Nexus. The work requires 5 percussionists (for this premiere recording Bob Becker, Bill Cahn, Robin Engelman, Russ Hartenberger and John Wyre) playing 25 (untuned) cowbells (“almglocken”), and a gong. The work is in four movements. The first emphasizes rhythmic cells and their staggered repetition. The event-density is thick, and the tempo is fast. The second movement, because of its thinner texture and slower tempo, emphasizes the melodic content. The third movement has the slowest tempo and the thickest texture, with much interplay between strongly accented punctuations, and the use of “rolling” to produce sustained sounds; and this interplay emphasizes the timbral sound image arising from an ensemble of homogeneous sound sources (25 cowbells), which incorporates pitches that do not belong to any single conventional tuning system, and which also include a high content of non-tempered harmonics. The fourth movement, having the fastest tempo in combination with a thin texture akin to that of the second movement, once again emphasizes the melodic content. As the shortest movement, and coming as it does after the long, slow, and demanding third movement, this segment affords a final release to a composition about which Morton Feldman said “I think [it] is going to be another kind of classic as the years go by.”

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