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SEQUENZA21/
340 W. 57th Street, 12B, New York, NY 10019

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Jerry Bowles
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Record companies, artists and publicists are invited to submit CDs to be considered for review. Send to: Jerry Bowles, Editor, Sequenza 21, 340 W. 57th Street, 12B, New York, NY 10019


Tuesday, October 11, 2005
Finding NWEAMO

Based on this preview in last Friday's San Diego Union-Tribune (our sole major daily paper, and an unusually conservative one at that), looks like I picked the wrong night to attend the San Diego leg of the New West Electro-Acoustic Music Organization tour. None of these pieces were on Friday's concert. I didn't read George Varga's preview, because I was too busy writing my review of Thursday night's concert by the Orquesta de Baja California. Of note is that George Varga is the "pop music critic" for the U-T. Seems like whenever there's something experimental, George Varga handles it. Nice enough to get any publicity, but I wonder how many of his readers actually get off their butts and go to the concerts he recommends?

Whoda thunk I'd come away from Friday's concert most impressed by an angst-ridden musical scream by a contemporary German composer (most of whom, at least the disciples of Lachenmann and Huber, I cannot stand)?

The highlight of the evening was a work for piccolo and tape by Gerald Eckert, a surprise to me as I had dismissed Eckert, based on the recordings I had heard, as a purveyor of the strain of supremely ugly, pulseless music that so many German composers are writing these days (and true to post-Adorno form, insisting that anything else is rubbish). However, Eckert's Klangr´┐Żume 2 was a ferocious sonic assault that grabbed you and didn't let go. Loud, fat synthesizer tones (at least they sounded synthesized to me) slowly descend, over and over, in thick clusters on the tape part. In the midst of this, the piccolo fires off a fortissimo fusillade of accented staccato notes. If you're familiar with Brian Ferneyhough's Superscriptio, a nonstop hysterical rant for solo piccolo, then imagine that accompanied by a loud chorus of electronic glissandi, and you'll have some idea of what Klangr´┐Żume 2 sounded like. Eckert kept the piccolo and electronic part at a consistently high level of intensity for what seemed to me like five minutes. It was performed brilliantly, as near as I can tell without being familiar with the piece, by Beatrix Wagner, who came all the way from Germany.
A nice piece from Andrew Stoltz:

Andrew Stoltz's Eftah was the one work on the program that seemed to fufill the NWEAMO mission of uniting the avant garde with popular music. Jeremy Bleich nimbly performed a series of Ralph-Towner-esque licks on the oud (the Arabian predecessor to the lute and the guitar), which were processed and accompanied by Stoltz's laptop, at times laying down a thick modal carpet of sustained tones, at others gentle ripplings of processed notes.

My entire review of the Friday night NWEAMO concert here. They could use some more submissions by talented computer music composers/performers. If you can travel to San Diego and/or Portland next year, and supply the performers for your work, you should apply.

I had to miss the Saturday show, because I was up in San Francisco to hear Dr. Atomic. More on that major disappointment soon.

P.S. There are some contemporary German composers I admire. Henze. Some of Stockhausen. Rihm. Killmayer. Um, now I can't think of any more. Think I'll go listen to some Danish composers instead. (I'm on a Rasmussen kick these days).

 



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