Stravinsky’s Three Japanese Lyrics (1912-1913) were composed just as the taste for all things Oriental, from fine arts to fashion, was reaching its apex throughout Europe. Nowhere was this fad more rampant than in Paris, where the composer lived and, in 1912, had come upon an anthology of Japanese poetry translated into Russian, providing him with the texts for a group of three songs. These terse and somewhat mournful songs — “Akahito,” “Mazatsumi,” and “Tsaraiuki” — represent the composer’s most overt adoption of Far Eastern subject matter. Like many of Stravinsky’s works which draw upon elements from “exotic” sources, the songs reveal a degree of detachment, objectivity and stylization.
The Three Japanese Lyrics were composed some 15 to 18 months after Le sacre du printemps (1911-1913) was completed; as in that seminal ballet, the songs’ melodic material is based upon the repetition of numerous small cells. “Akahito” features a six-note ostinato comprised of slow, ornamented eighth notes that run throughout the song, while “Tsamaiuki” contains tiny refrain figures that are likewise repeated in an ostinato pattern. The Lyrics suggest a similarity to Le sacre du printemps in terms of subject matter as well. Both illustrate the dawning of spring, but while Le sacre du printemps expresses the death of winter through violence and elemental force, the Lyrics draw attention elsewhere. Here the emphasis is more upon the visual, decorative aspects of the season, symbolized by the color white — patterns of white flowers set against fresh snowfall.
Texturally, the Lyrics reveal another significant influence: Schoenberg’s Pierrot Lunaire (1912). Stravinsky attended a performance of the revolutionary melodrama in Berlin in December 1912, and Schoenberg’s band of flute, clarinet, violin, cello, and piano was a likely inspiration for the instrumentation of the Lyrics (two flutes, two clarinets, and piano quintet). Moreover, the Lyrics, despite their clearly tonal language, employ harsh sonorities and free chromaticism to a greater extent than in Stravinsky’s previous works.
Following their first performance in 1914, many listeners were taken by the Lyrics’ metrical freedom and ambiguity. Indeed, rather than relying upon stereotyped orientalist clichés like pentatonic scales and garish ornamentation, Stravinsky emulates Japanese speech patterns with a remarkable degree of authenticity.
Evelyn Lear, soprano; Columbia Symphony, cond. Robert Craft. Art by Tensho Shubun.
Download sheet music as PDF:
Giya Kancheli (Georgian: born 10 August 1935 in Tbilisi) is a Georgian composer resident in Belgium.
Since 1991, Kancheli has lived in Western Europe: first in Berlin, and since 1995 in Antwerp, where he is composer-in-residence for the Royal Flemish Philharmonic. [source]
for chamber orchestra and tape,
Stuttgarter Kammerorchester, Dennis Russel Davies – Conductor,
Vasiko Tevdorashvili – Voice,
Natalia Pschenitschnikova – Alto Flute.
Posted in Recordings
Tagged 1990, Alto Flute., CLASSICAL20.COM, Conductor, Dennis Russel Davies, Giya Kancheli, Natalia Pschenitschnikova, Stuttgarter Kammerorchester, Tape, Vasiko Tevdorashvili, Voice
Arseny Avraamov – Symphony Of Factory Sirens (Public Event, Baku 1922)
Arseny Mikhailovich Avraamov (born Krasnokutsky, 1886, died Moscow, 1944) was an avant-garde Russian composer and theorist. He studied at the music school of the Moscow Philharmonic Society, with private composition lessons from Sergey Taneyev. He refused to fight in World War I, and fled the country to work, among other things, as a circus artist. Returning in 1917, he went on to compose his famous “Simfoniya gudkov” and was a pioneer in Russian sound on film techniques. Among his other achievements were the invention of graphic-sonic art, produced by drawing directly onto magnetic tape, and an “Ultrachromatic” 48-tone microtonal system, presented in his thesis, “The Universal System of Tones,” in Berlin, Frankfurt, and Stuttgart in 1927. His microtonal system predated the creation of the Petrograd Society for Quarter-Tone Music in 1923, by Georgii Rimskii-Korsakov.
Today, his most famous work is Simfoniya gudkov (Гудковая симфония, “Symphony of factory sirens”). This piece involved navy ship sirens and whistles, bus and car horns, factory sirens, cannons, the foghorns of the entire Soviet flotilla in the Caspian Sea, artillery guns, machine guns, hydro-airplanes, a specially designed “whistle main,” and renderings of Internationale and Marseillaise by a mass band and choir. The piece was conducted by a team of conductors using flags and pistols. It was performed in the city of Baku in 1922, celebrating the fifth anniversary of the 1917 October Revolution, and less successfully in Moscow, a year later. [source]
“By knowing the way to record the most complex sound textures by means of a phonograph, after analysis of the curve structure of the sound groove, directing the needle of the resonating membrane, one can create synthetically any, even most fantastic sound by making a groove with a proper structure of shape and depth”.
From “Upcoming Science of Music and the New Era in the History of Music” by Avraamov, published in 1916.
Arsenij Avraamov conducting “Symphony of the Factory Sirens” using two flaming torches (c.1923)
“Ellens dritter Gesang” (Ellens Gesang III, D. 839, Op. 52, No. 6, 1825), in English: ”Ellen’s Third Song”, was composed by Franz Schubert in 1825 as part of his Opus 52, a setting of seven songs from Walter Scott´s popular epic poem The Lady of the Lake, loosely translated into German.
It has become one of Schubert’s most popular works, recorded by a wide variety and large number of singers, under the title of Ave Maria, in arrangements with various lyrics which commonly differ from the original context of the poem. It was arranges in three versions for piano by Franz Liszt. [source]
Maria Callas – Vocal / Unknown – Piano
[Dedicated my father, who died in Tanzania 07.04.1995. Rest in peace]
Glorification of the Creator, and His Creations – the Sun and the Moon
Glorification of the Creator, the Maker of
the four elements: air, water, fire and earth
Glorification of life
Glorification of death
Sofia Gubaidulina’s 80th birthday in October 2011 generated much press coverage around the world, appropriately stressing the uniqueness and the variety of her compositional approaches. Both are in evidence on these recordings from Lockenhaus. “Canticle of the Sun”, recorded in 2010, revisits the celebrated piece that Gubaiduilina wrote in tribute to Mstislav Rostropovich on the occasion of his 70th birthday in 1997. Rostropovich’s famously sunny disposition was an inspiration, by association prompting Gubaidulina to set St Francis of Assisi’s “Canticle of the Sun” for choir. In this recording, Nicolas Altstaedt, one of the most accomplished cellists of his generation, takes on the highly expressive lead role. A further, timely, Lockenhaus connection here: as of this year, Altsteadt takes over from Kremer as the new director of the Lockenhaus Chamber Music Festival. [source]
Gidon Kremer: Violin
Marta Sudraba: Violoncello
Nicolas Altstaedt: Violoncello
Andrei Pushkarev: Percussion
Rihards Zalupe: Percussion
Rostislav Krimer: Celesta
Riga Chamber Choir Kamēr…
Māris Sirmais: Conductor
The Canticle of the Sun (1997, rev. 1998)
for violoncello, chamber choir, percussion and celesta
Dedicated to Mstislav Rostropovich
Recorded July 2010 at Lockenhaus Festival
ECM Records New Series 2256
Style: Experimental, New Music, Post-Modern
Canticle of the Sun revisits the celebrated piece that Gubaidulina wrote in tribute to Mstislav Rostropovich on the occasion of his 70th birthday.
Posted in Recordings
Tagged 1997, 1998, 2010, Andrei Pushkarev, Celesta, CLASSICAL20.COM, Conductor, Gidon Kremer, Marta Sudraba, Māris Sirmais, Nicolas Altstaedt, Percussion, Riga Chamber Choir Kamēr, Rihards Zalupe, Rostislav Krimer, Violin, Violoncello.
When Igor Stravinsky was introduced to Toru Takemitsu in 1959, he was taken aback by the young Japanese composer’s frail, slight frame. “How could such severe music come have come from such a tiny man?” he is said to have wondered aloud. Just prior to their meeting, the elder composer had happened upon a recording of Takemitsu´s haunting Requiem, a piece for string orchestra composed in 1957, when Takemitsu was just 27 years old. [source]
Tōru Takemitsu (1930-1996). His 1957 Requiem for strings orchestra attracted international attention, led to several commissions from across the world and established his reputation as one of the leading 20th century Japanese composers. He was the recipient of numerous awards and honours and the Toru Takemitsu Composition Award is named after him.[source]
Toronto Symphony Orchestra
Conductor: Seiji Ozawa
[Inspired by Ronnie Rocket, thanks a lot]
Carl Nielsen´s Wind Quintet or, more correctly, the Quintet for Flute, Oboe, Clarinet, French Horn and Bassoon, Op. 43, was composed early in 1922 in Gothenburg, Sweden, where it was first performed privately at the home of Herman and Lisa Mannheimer on 30 April 1922. [source]
Scandinavian Chamber Players:
Lars Graugaard – Flute
Ole-Henrik Dahl – Oboe
Hans Christian Bræin – Clarinet
Jens Tofte-Hansen – Bassoon
Henning Hansen – French Horn
Per Egholm – Alto Saxophone
Carsten Tagmose – Cello
Michael Dabelsteen – Double-Bass
Posted in Recordings
Tagged 1922, Alto Saxophone, Bassoon, Carl Nielsen, Carsten Tagmose, Cello, Clarinet, CLASSICAL20.COM, Double-bass, Flute, French horn, Hans Christian Bræin, Henning Hansen, Jens Tofte-Hansen, Lars Graugaard, Michael Dabelsteen, Oboe, Ole-Henrik Dahl, Per Egholm
Leoš Janáček´s String Quartet No. 1, “Kreutzer Sonata”, was written in a very short space of time, between 13 and 28 October 1923, at a time of great creative concentration. The work was revised by the composer in the autograph from 30 October to 7 November 1923.
The composition was inspired by Leo Tolstoy´s novella The Kreutzer Sonata. (The novella was in turn inspired by Beethoven´s Violin Sonata No. 9, known as the “Kreutzer Sonata” from the name of its dedicatee, Rodolphe Kreutzer)
The première of the Quartet was given on 17 October 1924 by the Czech Quartet at a concert of the Spolek pro moderní hudbu (Contemporary Music Society) at the Mozarteum in Praque. A pocket score of the work was published in April 1925 by Hudební matice.
Janáček also used the Tolstoy novel in 1908-1909 when it inspired him to compose a Piano Trio in three movements, now lost. Surviving fragments of the Trio suggest that it was quite similar to the surviving quartet, and reconstructions as a piano trio have been performed. [source]
1. Adagio – Con moto
2. Con moto
3. Con moto – Vivo – Andante
4. Con moto – (Adagio) – Più mosso
played by Alban Berg Quartet:
played by Kubin Quartet:
Leoš Janáček with his wife in 1881:
[inspired by Ronnie Rocket; thanks a lot]
I am sitting in a room is Alvin Lucier’s idea of pure sound experiments. Through playback and recording of successive generations of his own voice the sound is washed until his talking is a pure harmonic. The album starts with a relatively bland Lucier..”I am sitting in a room” but as the generations progress everything becomes a pure ambient. As Lucier suggests in the recording, this sound is the dynamic of the room he records in. It is released in two parts on well pressed vinyl.
“I am sitting in a room, different from the one you are in now.” So begins one of the masterpieces of 20th century music merging processed music, minimalism, and self-reference into an utterly amazing and ultimately beautiful work. The instructions for producing the piece are, in fact, the piece itself. The composer sits and describes what will happen, and then it happens. Lucier tapes these instructions (about 80 seconds worth), tapes it, replays that tape into the room, tapes that, plays the second tape into the room, etc., and so on. Little by little, the “natural resonant frequencies of the room” erode the source material, softening hard edges, blurring boundaries between words. Different rooms will, presumably, give different results depending on their individual architectural properties. After ten or 12 repetitions, the listener already has difficulty distinguishing individual words, though the rhythmic pattern remains. But, and this is one of the cruxes of the work, all is not entropy. As the text becomes indecipherable, elements of undeniably musical tones emerge from nowhere, as though they were embedded in the original speech and only came to light after the surface structure was eliminated. Indeed, small melodies can actually be heard and the effect is absolutely magical. Fifteen minutes into the composition, Lucier’s speech has become a hazy cloud of wavering, bell-like tones interrupted by the occasional sibilance, the latter generated by the composer’s stutter, which adds an element of poignancy to the piece’s conception. Halfway through, no aspect of the speech can be gleaned except a rough cadence; instead, the listener has been transported to a sound world at such a far remove from the initial text as to leave one both baffled and awash in wonder. I Am Sitting in a Room is a unique, extraordinary idea/composition, a landmark among late 20th century avant-garde music and a touchstone for a generation of composer/theoreticians. It’s a rare combination of sensual beauty and intellectual rigor, and should be heard by anyone interested in contemporary music. [source]
Side A. I Am Sitting In A Room Pt. I (21:50)
Side B. I Am Sitting In A Room Pt. II (23:10)
This record was made by the composer on October 29 and 31, 1980 in the living room of his home in Middletown, Connecticut. It consists of thirty-two generations of the composer’s speech and was made expressly for this Lovely Music record.
Alvin Lucier – Vocals
From the album Studies For Player Piano by Conlon Nancarrow, recorded on Conlon Nancarrow’s custom-altered 1927 Ampico reproducing piano at the studio of the composer in Mexico City on January 10 and 12, 1988.
Conlon Nancarrow’s Studies for Player Piano is a cycle of work unique in many respects, not the least being its seeming indivisibility from itself. As the primary text of the music is a hand-punched piano roll intended to be played on specific, Ampico model player pianos, it does not lead to a wide range of options in terms of interpretation. Studies for Player Piano, stems from master tapes made in Mexico City for release on the 1750 Arch label in the 1970s and ’80s, with Nancarrow´s own specially retrofitted pianos, in Nancarrow´s studio, and with the composer himself picking tempos and working with producer Charles Amirkhanian to achieve ideal results. These recordings were considered state of the art at the time and still sound great, and can certainly be considered definitive; CDs drawing from sources made later represent the music as played back by other machines and operators. While the differences might be slight, they are still significant, particularly in regard to tempo choices, which can either make or break this music, and breaking it isn’t hard to do at all. Hearing them played back on Nancarrow´s pianos also affords an additional layer of articulation missing from many reproductions; one of Nancarrow´s pianos was fitted with metal hammers, resulting a clattery sense of attack, whereas the other had hammers covered with leather strips for a more mellow sound. Make no mistake about it: the Other Minds set truly represents what Nancarrow himself wanted you to hear when it came to his player piano music, and he did have very specific ideas about that. [source]
Conlon Nancarrow - Piano