Steve Reich – Four Organs; Phase Patterns (1970)

Steve Reich has described his 1971 piece Four Organs as an attempt to reproduce the phasing effect of his mid-’60s tape pieces (such as Come Out and It’s Gonna Rain) with real musicians in a concert setting. Four organists (including on this 1974 recording, both Reich himself and his friend Philip Glass) play single notes repeatedly, aided by the superhuman efforts of a maracas player who’s providing an unaccented beat at a steady tempo. As beats are slowly added to and dropped from bars as the piece develops, chords that had formed and lasted for single beats in early measures become longer and longer, so that by the end of the piece, a single chord, formed by the four organists each playing a different note, is held for over 200 beats. As an added textural fillip, human nature requires that, despite their best efforts, the organists will not be hitting every note at exactly the same time, thus producing the interesting textures and overtones that start to become the focus of the piece after the first couple of minutes. Four Organs is minimalism at its purest. Phase Patterns is basically the same idea without the steadying influence of the maracas, meaning that the phasing effects occur quicker and are more pronounced. It’s arguably a slightly less interesting work, but it’s still one of Reich’s finest early pieces.

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Gustavo Dudamel conducts Bruckner; Webern; Takemitsu

There was one other piece on the program, Toru Takemitsu’s Requiem for strings, which was added because the L.A. Phil will also play this concert in Costa Mesa as part of the Philharmonic Society of Orange County’s JapanOC festival.

The Requiem is the Japanese composer’s first notable work, written in 1957 as Takemitsu was recovering from tuberculosis. Like Webern and Bruckner, Takemitsu wrote music that insists on stopping and smelling the roses. But in the French-influenced early Takemitsu the perfume is everything.

The Philharmonic strings did not fully convey the impression of weightlessness that Takemitsu might have liked, but the textures were lush and Dudamel centered in on the Requiem’s meditative beauty.

Read the full review in the Los Angeles Times here.

Competition: Remix Francesco Tristano In Video

Francesco Tristano is a young man who has one foot in camp techno and the other in the world of classical music. Having worked with Carl Craig and Moritz von Oswald, he is still perhaps best known for his work in the classical realm – his debut album bachCage will be released via German titan Deutsche Grammophon next month.

In order to celebrate his unique connections between classical and electronic music, Deutsche Grammophon and KlassikAkzente magazine, in collaboration with 12designer.com, are hosting a competition to find a video producer for the title track on Tristano’s album which has been (sonically) remixed by Lawrence as well as by Moritz von Oswald.

Using the original music video, the idea is to ‘remix’ the clip so that it fits with one of the above mentioned audio remixes. The winner of the competition (based on submitted entires) will earn the title of official (remix) video producer and will have their work shown across the virtual world.

Full details of the competition can be found on 12designer.com.

Philip Glass establishes annual arts festival in California

Composer Philip Glass will launch an eclectic annual arts festival in August, with music, dance, theater, poetry and film offerings at Hidden Valley, an arts training center near Carmel.

The first Days and Nights Festival runs Aug. 19 to Sept. 4 at the 300-seat Hidden Valley Theatre in Carmel Valley, except for a poetry evening and a concert at the Henry Miller Library in Big Sur.

A news release announcing the event says the first season “reflects keystones in Glass’ career,” and that subsequent seasons “will delve ever further into the evolution of the arts across time and space.”

Read the full article in the Los Angeles Times here.

Jimi Hendrix's Hey Joe Live by Turtle Island Quartet

In 1969 David Balakrishnan, then a teenage violin student, attended a Jimi Hendrix concert in Los Angeles that led him to reconsider his approach to his instrument, and to music more broadly. He began learning some of Hendrix’s guitar solos on the violin, and he decided that his repertory should embrace both classical music and pop. As a composer he extended that philosophy to his own music.

Read the full article in The New York Times here.

Visit Turtle Island Quartet here.

Wo ist das Orchester?

From Die Zeit: Germany’s orchestras in cartographic form (click to enlarge).

As the accompanying article makes clear, there’s no other country where orchestras are quite so evenly distributed, geographically speaking. No wonder so many Germans appreciate classical music. It’s so much easier when it’s right there on your doorstep.

[via Intermezzo]

Brian Ferneyhough – re-immersion

In my review of the Barbican’s Total Immersion day on Brian Ferneyhough I mentioned that “few composers impose themselves on my mind or day-to-day perception to quite such an extent”. Which is to say that I know of few composers whose music I find superficially inexplicable but which nevertheless impresses itself so firmly on my consciousness. That’s an intoxicating and intriguing paradox. Major new Ferneyhough experiences quite often leave me in a distracted and slightly troubled state of mind for several days afterwards, particularly as I try to assimilate what I’ve heard through repeated listenings.

Read the full blog posting here.

Simon Rattle on Gustav Mahler

Do you remember when you heard the music of Gustav Mahler for the first time?

I am not sure. I grew up in Liverpool when they were doing what was actually the first European Mahler-cycle with the same orchestra and conductor. It’s extraordinary to think of that – this was the middle of the ‘60s. But no-one in Europe had played all the symphonies with the same conductor at this time. It had only been done in Utah, by the Utah Symphony Orchestra. And look – one forgets how off-centre Mahler was at this time, before Bernstein, before etc. etc. Berthold Goldschmidt had only just performed the Mahler Third for the first time in Britain; that was in 1962. I have still a magnificent tape of that. So, Sir Charles Groves and the Liverpool Philharmonic, they did two a year for five and a half years, because they also did Das Lied von der Erde, they also did the early version of the completed Tenth. And I can remember, because I was studying: violin with one player in the orchestra, percussion with another, and they said: “Ah! We’re on our twice-yearly struggle with Mahler”.

Read the full interview here.

UE Mahler Interviews: Simon Rattle from Universal Edition on Vimeo.