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

Jerry Bowles
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Managing Editor:
David Salvage

Contributing Editors:

Galen H. Brown
Evan Johnson
Ian Moss
Lanier Sammons
Deborah Kravetz
Eric C. Reda
Christian Hertzog
(San Diego)
Jerry Zinser
(Los Angeles)

Web & Wiki Master:
Jeff Harrington

Latest Posts

Love and Cow Bells
Sorceress of the New Piano
Well, That Was Fun
Naxos Dreaming
Reich@70: Let the Celebrations Begin
The Bi-Coastal Jefferson Friedman
Violins Invade Indianapolis
John Cage (born Los Angeles, 5 September 1912; died New York, 12 August 1992).
The People United Will Never Be Divided
Attention Sequenza21 Shoppers


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

Friday, July 29, 2005
RIP: Arthur Zankel

This morning, at around 11 a.m., Arthur Zankel, Carnegie Hall's Vice-Chairman, leapt from his Fifth Avenue apartment window and died later at New York Presbyterian Hospital. He was 73, and his death appears to be a suicide.

Due to Mr. Zankel's money and efforts, New York City now has Zankel Hall -- a space that has proven to be one of the city's most exciting venues. We should take a moment to recognize the fact that, without great benefactors like Mr. Zankel, the history of Western music would be a far more dismal story.
And So, Week Three

Welp, my third week on the front lines of S21 begins, and, to tell the truth, ain�t much goin' on. The most exciting thing is probably the Ravi Shankar perf at the Proms. Piable has the dirt just below. There�s also a goofy story about a 16-year-old pianist who�s suing his teacher for slamming the piano lid on him while he was playing at Weill. I�ve also posted a topic in the Composers Forum in the hopes we might get some group therapy going. Don�t forget about Corey Dargel tonight. Bon weekend!
Chill to Shankar sitars in BBC Proms webcast

Cool new music for hot weather in next week's live BBC Proms webcasts. In particular checkout Wednesday evening's (3rd August) Shankar family celebration as Ravi Shankar celebrates his 85th birthday. He is playing with daughter Anoushka (despite an airline smashing his treasured sitars). The programme includes his Sitar Concerto No 1, plus Delhi-born Param Viri's 1994 composition Horse Tooth White Rock named after the mountain where Milarepa, the great eleventh century Tibetan saint, attained enlightenment. And the concert concludes with a sequence of evening ragas. Interestingly this is Ravi Shankar's Proms debut, Placido Domingo also made his debut this season in a stunning Walkure a couple of weeks back. The exotic theme continues on Tuesday (2nd August) with Luciano Berio's rarelly heard choral masterpiece Coro which contrasts lines from the exiled Chilean poet Pablo Neruda with folk-texts from the Americas, Africa, Croatia, Persian and Polynesia.

There's lots more new music in next week's programme. On An Overgrown Path has all the dope in its weekly Proms preview. It includes webcast links, concert dates and times, and even a time zone convertor. So there's absolutely no excuse not to chill to Ravi Shankar, Luciano Berio, John Woolrich, and Hugh Watkins and more great new music.

Elsewhere a story with the unseasonal title Raindrops are falling on my chant gives details of Antony Pitts' new choral work XL, which was written as a companion piece to Tallis' 40 motet Spem in Alium, and uses the same forces. And in Critical Mass the ever engaged blog is asking for reader's views on whether Leonard Bernstein's Mass is an unrecognised masterpiece, or simply a failed experiment in exploiting the vernacular and street chic.
Far Out Thursday

Not much going on today, but what there is is interesting.

Do you think neo-Nazis and white supremacists deserve musical tributes? Composer David Woodard does. He directs the Los Angeles Chamber Group and is writing a piece commemorating the failed Aryan settlement Nueva Germania established in Paraguay in 1886. His music has also eulogized Timothy McVeigh. Read all about it.

Back here at the intergalactic space station, Elodie Lauten mulls over the music of the spheres and considers Ives�s Universe Symphony; Larry Dillon, responding to Everette Minchew, lists his favorite solo pieces utilizing extended techniques; and Corey Dargel takes the stage tonight and Friday � read about it in the Composers Forum.
Hot, Weird Day Hits New York

Seems like everyone I�ve talked to � including myself -- has had something weird happen to them this morning. Everyone okay out there?

So there�re two tidbits worth your notice: our friends at Naxos have a cool new deal with the American Library Association giving folks temporary access to all kinds of stuff; and it looks like a good week to be in Aspen where the new and obscure is getting center stage.

Back here at the No-Name Saloon, you can read just below how things got a little heavy last night at The Stone; and a brawl has broken out over my Alarm Will Sound Review. Let�s hope it doesn�t spill out onto the street.
Jenny Lin and �Preludes to a Revolution� at The Stone

Let�s drop the needle.

It�s piano music. Could be any one of a handful of composers. But definitely Russian. Probably early twentieth century. The pianist�s sound is thick � you listen to it as if you were dragging your fingers through wet soil. Even the soft dynamics seem almost unnaturally rich. The harmonies are lovingly placed. The passage work is never flashy � even when it could stand to be. The pianist also isn�t afraid to be ugly: the lush, legato lines are to be expected, but the way some phrases are pounced on catches you off guard. Who could it be?

Tuesday night, Jenny Lin gave a short concert at The Stone of selections from her new CD, "Preludes to a Revolution." The concert contained works by Reinhold Gli�re, Arthur Vincent Louri�, Alexei Stanchinsky, Anatoli Alexandrov, Samuel Feinberg, and Alexander Scriabin. I found some of the music pretty forgettable: too much Chopin on borscht. But the playing, as described above, was not the sort of stuff one�s accustomed to hearing from a pianist so young. The first of Scriabin�s "3 Preludes Op. 74" � the very last pieces he wrote � was a highlight: Lin captured every ravishingly sickly nuance of the music.

Anyhow, needle up: there wasn�t any "contemporary music" on the program, so I don�t want to spend too much time off topic. The concert was great, and the CD is recommended highly. Bravo!

Better get out your oven mitts, because today�s a hot one.

First of all � as if you needed reminding � don�t forget about pianist Jenny Lin�s concert tonight at the Stone at 8pm. It�ll be a grab bag of Russian music including Scriabin, Roslavetz, Deshevov, and others.

Back here at the psycho ward, Pliable brings you the word from England just below � Jerry! Jerry! Jerry!; just below that I have a few words for Alarm Will Sound; further down (you can do it!) there�s David Toub�s review of a new CD of John Cage�s solo cello music. Over at the Composer�s Forum, Cary Boyce insists he�s still "hooked," and Lou Bunk has some questions concerning etiquette.
Jerry Springer rebel grabs Gramophone accolade

Antony Pitts was the BBC Radio 3 producer who resigned in protest back in January over the broadcasting of the controversial, and allegedly blasphemous, Jerry Springer - The Opera. But Pitts also has a flourishing career as a contemporary composer. And he seems to be having the last laugh in the Springer affair as the Hyperion recording of his new choral work Seven Letters is a Gramophone magazine Editor's Choice for August. The sting is that Seven Letters is a setting of St John's indictment of depravity in the first-century church from the Book of Revelations. On An Overgrown Path has the full story, and in a new development offers a four minute audio excerpt from this new work by a composer to watch.

After his spat with the BBC it is unlikely that Anthony Pitts will be getting a Proms commission in the near future. But Thursday's regular BBC Proms feature On An Overgrown Path will preview next week's new music delights from other composers. These include premieres for Hans Abrahamsen, Huw Watkins and John Woolrich, plus, appropriately, a rare chance to hear Luciano Berio's 53 minute protest song, Coro. More details with dates, air times and webcast links for these, and other concerts, will be uploaded On An Overgrown Path on Thursday 28th July.
Alarm Will Sound Plays Aphex Twin at Lincoln Center Festival

The formidable Alarm Will Sound has been grooving away to Aphex Twin (a.k.a. Richard D. James) lately, and Sunday night they shared the spoils of their endeavors at the stunning Allen Room in the Time Warner Center. The program consisted mainly of acoustic arrangements of Aphex Twin�s electronica compositions. These were interspersed with remixes of Alarm Will Sound�s "unremixings" by the DJ Richard Devine. Closing the program was an original techno-inspired composition by Stefan Freund. The results were . . . thought provoking.

Many of the arrangements boasted superb instrumental effects: the arrangers, mostly drawn from the ensemble�s ranks, put accordions, plastic tubing, battered cymbals, Jew�s harps, slapsticks, and other devices to good use. Special mention must be made of Evan Hause�s exuberant arrangement of "Omgyjya Switch 7" which closed the first half. The ensemble � especially the drummers Jason Treuting and Lawson White � proved their virtuosity and enthusiasm over and over again as the evening wore on and negotiated the often fiendishly complex rhythms with aplomb.

But for all the banging around, an odd emptiness permeated the proceedings.

The problem was a lack of artistic integrity. Successful aesthetic experiences result from a mutual appropriateness of art-object, observer, and venue. Just as Mozart�s G Minor Symphony would sound ridiculous if pumped through sub-woofers into a dance club, electronica sounds a bit off when thrust into a concert hall where people can do nothing but sit silently and applaud. I would have enjoyed myself much more had I been allowed to dance. True, the producers attempted to simulate a club-like atmosphere with some special lighting effects, but these were half-measures.

Concert halls encourage concentration and close listening; clubs encourage a more physical response to music. Aphex Twin conceived of these pieces for clubs, and, as such, they�re terrific works. But when isolated from one another by applause and placed in a context in which physical responses are prohibited, the music�s homogeneity (unfairly) becomes all too conspicuous.

It also became clear during the concert that what is idiomatic for electronic realization is not necessarily idiomatic for live performers. Applying a steady backbeat to skittery electronic samples liberates the music; applying the same backbeat behind a chamber ensemble seems to lock players into a straight jacket. Sure, the violinists had opportunities to rip viciously at their instruments and head-bang, but the effect was more visual than aural. Many times, their sound was lost in a barrage of percussion, and, when the percussion would cut out, the music leaked energy like air from a balloon.

These issues became abundantly clear in Richard Devine�s remixes. Far and away the best music on the program, these had an immediacy and fluency that was absent from nearly all the acoustic arrangements. In the second of his four remixes, an electric bassist and trumpeter jammed along with the electronics in a cool, unobtrusive way. It worked because the players weren�t trying to imitate what was originally electronic: they were just being themselves.

But in the end, there was a lot of sound and a lot of talent on stage last Sunday night � but not a lot of substance. Alarm Will Sound deserves credit for going out on a limb and embracing the world of electronica, but, as yet, we await satisfying results.
Solo cello music of john cage

I have a confession: while I've always been a great admirer of Cage's philosophy, with few exceptions (string quartet, the works for prepared piano(s)) I have not been very fond of Cage's music. Until now, that is. This CD from OgreOgress Productions presents two late cello works by Cage (from a series of what is referred to as his "Number" works): one7 [from one 13] and one8.

one7 was written in 1990, but for this recording, the sounds intended for the unfinished one 13were mapped (using aleatoric procedures) to the time bracket design of one7. one 13 may have been intended for one live cello and three prerecorded celli, using single tones chosen by chance from up to 98 possible tones.Of the two works on the album, one7 is the more difficult of the two for the listener, at least in my opinion. You have to really, really like F#, since that (or what to my synthesizer is a microtone higher) is what is played for the entire piece, broken up by silences. I find that it does grow on you, but then, I also really like Lucier's Music on a Long Thin Wire and Young's Studies on the Bowed Gong.

The piece that sold me on this album is also the more controversial of the two: one8. This was written in 1991 for the cellist Michael Bach and makes use of a curved bow that can play more than one string simultaneously. What this does is amazing: the cello can sustain solid chords of three or four notes, which would not be possible otherwise. The harmonic diversity is very rich, and the music, while not as rhythmically diverse or complex as Feldman's, is ephemerally beautiful, with sustained quiet chords that say a lot while saying very little. Interestingly, the specified duration is 43'30" (a reference to 4'33"). The work is constructed as a series of time brackets (53 in all) that specify the start/stop timings. Within each bracket is a single tone---the duration of each tone within a bracket is indeterminate, as are the dynamics and bowing. Thus, while the total duration of a bracketed note is determined, the balance of the note vs. silence is up to the performer.

The controversy relates to the choice of bow. Michael Bach, who has also recorded this work, has developed his own curved bow (the BACH.bogen) but there is no stipulation in the score as to which specific curved bow should be used. Some have questioned if a baroque bow could be applicable, or if a curved bow is necessary at all. Indeed, some previous performances of the work apparently did not involve a curved bow at all.

Interestingly, the main difficulty of the work for the cellist involves the left (non-bowing) hand. Each individual note in a chord has to be played individually, which is a challenge.

The cellist on the album is anonymous. The liner notes are very informative. My only complaint is that green on green text is hard to read.

VERDICT: extremely iPod-worthy, especially one8
Monday Again

It�s a gloomy morning in New York, and a slow day in the world at large. You may content yourself with knowing that you are where all the action is � S21.

Larry Dillon continues to be a posting maniac. Are you keeping up? He poses an interesting question in the Composers Forum: what do you remember about pieces of music? Is it just a matter of catchy tunes? Over on his personal page, he finds that breathing is essential to conducting � even if people don�t talk about it much.

Otherwise, Everette Minchew�s procrastinating again � for shame!; there�s a new CD review; forget about Uptown, the Calendar�s gone Upstate; and check out some reviews by yours truly just below. More coming tonight . . .
Jay Gottlieb at the International Keyboard Institute and Festival

An absolute treat yesterday at Mannes, the inimitable Jay Gottlieb presented a terrific program of compositions by Ives, Donatoni, Wolpe, Messiaen, and others. Gottlieb, an American expatriate living in Paris, is a commissioning machine who has worked with a veritable who�s who in post-1950 contemporary music: you made not have heard of him, but Michael Tilson Thomas, Kent Nagano, Gunther Schuller, Pierre Boulez, Magnus Lindberg, Poul Ruders, and John Adams have.

After a fidgety introduction in which he spoke of the work�s "Himalayan" monumentality, Gottlieb opened with the "Emerson" movement from Ives�s Concord Sonata. Gottlieb gave the piece a spacious, romantic reading filled with rubato and sensuous sonority. Ives felt more like an old master in Gottlieb�s hands than a radical modernist. (Richard Taruskin would have been pleased.)

The far-out mood established by the Ives was sustained by Giacinto Scelsi�s "Four Illustrations on the Metamorphosis of Vishnu." The work�s four short movements � Shesha, Veraha, Rama, and Krishna � were played with color and conviction, but Scelsi�s indulgent style and flabby sense of form left me far from satisfied with the work as a whole.

Fortunately things lightened up when Gottlieb turned next to excerpts from Franco Donatoni�s "Fran�oise-Variationen." These casual musical doodles, each only a page long, charmed the audience with their unashamed insouciance. Their slippery gestures disappeared just a second or two before overstaying their welcome, leaving a sweet taste in their wake.

Last on the first half was Stefan Wolpe�s "Stehende Musik." Played with great power, the work�s visceral brutality gave an invigorating shot of adrenaline to the ears.

A smattering of Messiaen opened the second half. Gottlieb proved equal to the extremes of touch demanded by "Le Chocard des Alpes" from the Catalogue d�oiseaux. The more introspective "Regard du Temps" from the Vingt Regards sur l�Enfant-J�sus followed, and the set concluded with "La Parole Toute-Puisante," a thunderous, explosive recitative also from the Vingt Regards.

Gottlieb then presented a suite of short works by various composers under the title "Four Pianissimo Pieces." The group consisted of Charles Koechlin�s wistful "Le Chant du Chevrier," Henri Dutilleux�s mysterious "D�Ombre et de silence," Luciano Berio�s shimmering "Luftklavier," and George Crumb�s mystical "Agnus Dei" from the Macrocosmos. After a series of rather combustible pieces, this pleasantly somnambulant suite was a small masterstroke of programming.

The concert closed with John Adams�s "Phrygian Gates." Due to the work�s length, Gottlieb frequently only plays the second half. Of course, he chops the piece in two at precisely the work�s most magical moment, but his reading yesterday was effervescent nonetheless, and it was all the more impressive considering he played from the score and turned the pages himself.

I can�t remember a program with so much music on it I wanted to hear. Gottlieb�s taste in repertoire could hardly be improved on and, even if his speaking style is a tad unhinged, one wishes him many returns to this side of the Atlantic.


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