October 23, 2005

Recent Listening

Cold Blue Complete 10-Inch Series

It's easy to forget about California. Aside from the occasional glamorous premiere, it's...you know... all the way over there. East coast pretensions aside, it's inspiring to see such sophisticated and flat-out beautiful music outside of the classical mainstream. Every time I hear something from Daniel Lentz, he just seems more and more like an undeservedly under-appreciated composer. That Gann guy might be onto something...

Nude Rolling Down an Escalator

Speaking of which, I finally got a chance to sit down with Kyle's Disklavier studies. I could see these becoming very popular if they were heard by people who aren't necessarily connoisseurs of 'serious' music (where's our post-classical A&R rep...or is that Kyle?). Texarkana is laugh-out-loud funny and Petty Larceny bears a freakish resemblance to the sounds in my sleep-deprived mind the night before a music history exam.

Stravinsky and Stravinsky

The wind ensemble at Eastman just did a concert bookended by the Octet and Symphonies of Wind Instruments. Among other things, it confirmed my thought that Stravinsky, perhaps more than other composers, really needs to be heard in person. For one thing, his ensemble choices often have striking presences on stage. When I first saw Symphony of Psalms, I had an experience similar to those New Yorkers who thought a UFO landed when the Guggenheim came to town. In the Octet, there was something just intriguing about the three pairs and a couple loners. Seems like a great-uncle or something to Carter's Triple Duo.

I don't know if this is a stretch, but the physical gestures needed to produce the sounds seemed linked in character to the sounds themselves. All the head bobs and 1-2 1-2 breathing felt like expressions of the same underlying idea.

Lastly, the sounds. Particularly in Symphonies. It's just full of killer sonorities. There were a couple other piecs on the program based on chorales. To my ears, their sonorities were a little off-balance. They were essentially solid, but they had a few parts which felt glued on — flute solos which got too glossy and some bass brass that overwhelmed the texture a little much. Stravinsky... when he laid down a chord the harmonic structure just felt total. Everything flowed smoothly, from the ground all the way up. Perhaps composition curriculums would benefit from the addition of a requirement in masonry...

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