Michael Nyman – In Re Don Giovanni (1981)

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Critically acclaimed as Nyman’s groundbreaking record that combined minimalist, experimentalist music and jazz improvisation for the first time, this album has only ever been available on the rarest of long-since deleted vinyl.

The first Michael Nyman Band Album originally released in 1981, beautifully packaged in a 6 panel digipack and including two limited edition posters of the the original UK and Japanese LP artwork.

Most of the music on Michael Nyman was material from the early films by Peter Greenaway such as “Bird Anthem” (Act Of God) and “Bird List Song” (The Falls). The album also includes his first concert work for the band, “In Re Don Giovanni” which was released as a single on Les Disques du Crepuscule (home of Cabaret Voltaire, Durutti Column and Josef K amongst others) under the title Mozart. The most groundbreaking track on Michael Nyman, however, is “Waltz in F”, a piece Nyman wrote for art students whilst teaching at Trent Polytechnic in 1977, Nyman subsequently commandeering two modern jazz improvisers, Evan Parker and Peter Brotzman, to “destroy” this piece. Ultimately, Parker and Brotzman ended up playing over and around ten separate tracks whilst Nyman and Cunningham mixed in their Waltz.



[Dedicated to Jan Munkvad]

Prokofiev: Sonata for 2 Violins in C, Op.56 (1932)

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Sergei Prokofiev composed his Sonata for Two Violins in C major, Op. 56, in 1932 during his vacation near St. Tropez as a commission piece to conclude the inaugural concert of Triton, a Paris-based society dedicated to presenting new chamber music. That concert was held on December 16, 1932.

However, with the composer’s permission, the sonata was performed for the first time three weeks earlier in Moscow, on November 27, 1932, by Dmitry Tsyganov and Vladimir Shirinsky, both members of the Beethoven Quartet. The performance at the Triton concert was the “Western premiere”. The performers on that occasion were Robert Soetens – for whom Prokofiev would compose his second violin concerto in 1935 – and Samuel Dushkin, for whom Stravinsky composed his violin concerto a few months earlier. The work was published in 1932 in Berlin by Editions Russes de Musique.

In his 1941 autobiography, Prokofiev wrote about the origin of the work:

Listening to bad music sometimes inspires good ideas… After once hearing an unsuccessful piece [unspecified] for two violins without piano accompaniment, it struck me that in spite of the apparent limitations of such a duet one could make it interesting enough to listen to for ten or fifteen minutes.

Regarding the Paris premiere, Prokofiev further adds:

[My] Sonata was presented at the official opening of Triton, which chanced to coincide with the premiere of my ballet On the Dnieper. Fortunately the ballet began half an hour after the end of the concert, and so immediately after the Sonata we dashed over to the Grand Opéra – musicians, critics, composer all together.

Mvt.1 – Andante cantabile
Mvt.2 – Allegro

David & Igor Oistrach, violins
Recorded live on 14 April 1961

Pictures: Wassily Kandinsky (1866-1944)


Egon Wellesz – Idyllen, op. 21 (1917)

Egon Wellesz was undoubtedly one of Vienna’s modernist masters, lost to the city and posterity after exile in 1938. He, along with Alban Berg and Anton Webern made up the original group of pupils to study with Arnold Schoenberg. [source]

Egon Wellesz (1885-1974): Idyllen, fünf Klavierstücken zu Gedichten von Stefan George, op.21 (1917).

I. In ruhig fließender Bewegung
II. Schwebend
III. Mäßig
IV. Verträumt
V. Langsam. Frei im Vortrag

Margarete Babinsky – pianoforte.

[Here you can read Egon Wellesz on Schönberg, 13. September 1934.]

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Egon Wellesz as painted by Oskar Kokoschka 1911

Arnold Schoenberg – Chamber Symphony No. 1 (1906)

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The Chamber Symphony No. 1 in E major, Op. 9 (also known by its title in German Kammersymphonie, für 15 soloinstrumente, or simply as Kammersymphonie) is a composition by Austrian composer Arnold Schoenberg.

It was finished in 1906 and premiered on February 8, 1907 in Vienna by the Rosé Quartet together with a wind ensemble from the Vienna Philharmonic, under the composer’s baton. Schoenberg again conducted the piece, as part of the famed Skandalkonzert in 1913, in which the heterodox tonalities of Schoenberg’s Symphony and, more so, of his student Alban Berg’s works incited the attendees to riot in protest and prematurely end the concert.[citation needed]

The first British performance was on 6 May 1921 (or possibly on 16 April) at the Aeolian Hall, London, conducted by Edward Clark, Schoenberg’s champion and former student. The players included Charles Woodhouse (violin), John Barbirolli (cello), Léon Goossens (oboe), Aubrey Brain and Alfred Brain (horns).

The piece is a well-known example of the use of quartal harmony.


John Cage – Music of Changes (1951)

Music of Changes is a piece for solo piano by John Cage. Composed in 1951 for pianist and friend David Tudor, it is Cage’s earliest fully indeterminate instrumental work.

Music of Changes was the second fully indeterminate work Cage composed (the first is Imaginary Landscape No. 4, completed in April 1951, and the third movement of Concerto for prepared piano also used chance[1]), and the first instrumental work that uses chance throughout. He was still using magic square-like charts to introduce chance into composition, when, in early 1951, Christian Wolff presented Cage with a copy of the I Ching (Wolff’s father published a translation of the book at around the same time).[2] This Chinese classic text is a symbol system used to identify order in chance events. For Cage it became a perfect tool to create chance-controlled compositions: he would “ask” the book questions about various aspects of the composition at hand, and use the answers to compose. In effect, the vast majority of pieces Cage completed after 1951 were created using the I Ching. [source]

Book I (New York, May 16, 1951)
Book II (New York, August 2, 1951)
Book III (New York, October 18, 1951)
Book IV (New York, December 13, 1951)

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Krzysztof Penderecki – Complete Cello Concertos (1967-1983)

1 Concerto For Cello And Orchestra No. 1 (1967/1972) 17:48
2 Concerto For Cello And Orchestra No. 2 (1982) 35:06
3 Concerto For Viola And Chamber Orchestra (1983) 20:16

Cello – Arto Noras
Composed By – Krzysztof Penderecki
Conductor – Krzysztof Penderecki
Orchestra – Sinfonia Varsovia

Finlandia Records

Around the mid-1970s, while he was a professor at the Yale School of Music, Penderecki’s style began to change. The Violin Concerto No. 1 largely leaves behind the dense tone clusters with which he had been associated, and instead focuses on two melodic intervals: the semitone and the tritone. Some commentators[who?] compared this new direction to Anton Bruckner. This direction continued with the Symphony No. 2, Christmas (1980), which is harmonically and melodically quite straightforward. It makes frequent use of the tune of the Christmas carol Silent Night.  Penderecki explained this shift by stating that he had come to feel that the experimentation of the avant-garde had gone too far from the expressive, non-formal qualities of Western music: ‘The avant-garde gave one an illusion of universalism. The musical world of Stockhausen, Nono, Boulez and Cage was for us, the young – hemmed in by the aesthetics of socialist realism, then the official canon in our country – a liberation…I was quick to realise however, that this novelty, this experimentation and formal speculation, is more destructive than constructive; I realised the Utopian quality of its Promethean tone’. Penderecki concluded that he was ‘saved from the avant-garde snare of formalism by a return to tradition’. [source]

Arto Noras (born 12 May 1942 in Turku) is a Finnish cellist who is one of Finland’s most celebrated instrumentalists and amongst the most outstanding internationally acknowledged cellists of his generation. [source]

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Rued Langgaard – String Quartet no. 5 (1925)

String Quartet no. 5  is composed by the danish composer Rued Langgaard. Here played by Kontra Kvartetten:

Peter Fabricius – Bratsch
Anton Kontra – Violin
Boris Samsing – Violin
Morten Zeuthen – Cello

Rued Langgaard (born Rud Immanuel Langgaard; 28 July 1893 – 10 July 1952) was a late-Romantic Danish composer and organist. His then-unconventional music was at odds with that of his Danish contemporaries and was recognized only 16 years after his death. [source]

The danish filmproducer Peter Aalbaek who normally work together with Lars Von Trier is planning to make a feature movie about Rued Langgaard. Aalbaek has been fascinated by Langgaards history throughout his career, and his graduation film from the Film School also portrayed the composer.

picture from the homepage of Rued Langgaard Selskabet:

www.ruedlanggaardselskabet

 

Igor Stravinsky – Symphonies of Wind Instruments (1947 version)

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The work was first heard in London in 1921, when Koussevitsky conducted it at the Queens Hall. Early performances seem to have been unsatisfactory, though, and the work’s importance was slow to be recognised. In 1947 Stravinsky published a revised edition, with slight alterations to the instrumentation and layout of the music. This revised edition is performed here.

Members of the London Symphony Orchestra
Valery Gergiev

To the memory of Claude Debussy.