Sofia Gubaidulina – The Lyre Of Orpheus (2006)

Sofia Asgatovna Gubaidulina, (born October 24, 1931) is a Russian composer of half Russian, half Tatar ethnicity. Until 1992, she lived in Moscow. Since then, she has made her primary residence in Germany, outside Hamburg. The Lyre Of Orpheus is composed in 2006, recorded July 2006 at Lockenhaus Festival and released in 2012 on the CD Canticle Of The Sun.

At a subterranean level, “The Lyre of Orpheus” is also an exploration into the physics of sound, with pulsating difference tones informing its underlying structures. Gubaidulina explains: “One can conceive of an imaginary pulsating space where the pulsation of the difference tones corresponds to the sounding intervals. Projected onto the tonal area which we can perceive, a specific correlation is formed between this pulsation and the sounding interval which produces the difference tone. One can experience this correspondence in an artistic work as a metaphor for a profound correlation between processes taking place in time and processes within the sound world, but also as a pronounced factor of formal organization.” [source]

Gubaidulina’s music is marked by the use of unusual instrumental combinations. In Erwartung combines percussion (bongos, güros,temple blocks, cymbals and tam-tams among others), bayan and saxophone quartet.

For Gubaidulina, music was an escape from the socio-political atmosphere of Soviet Russia. For this reason, she associated music with human transcendence and mystical spiritualism, which manifests itself as a longing inside the soul of humanity to locate its true being, a longing she continually tries to capture in her works. These abstract religious and mystical associations are concretized in Gubaidulina’s compositions in various ways. Gubaidulina is a convinced Russian-Orthodox believer. The influence of electronic music and improvisational techniques is exemplified in her unusual combination of contrasting elements, novel instrumentation, and the use of traditional Russian folk instruments in her solo and chamber works, such as De profundis for bayan, Et expecto- Sonata for bayan, and In croce for cello and organ or bayan.

Another influence of improvisation techniques can be found in her fascination with percussion instruments. She associates the indeterminate nature of percussive timbres with the mystical longing and the potential freedom of human transcendence.

A profoundly religious person, Gubaidulina defines “re-ligio” as re-legato or as restoration of the connection between oneself and the Absolute. She finds this re-connection through the artistic process and has developed a number of musical symbols to express her ideals. She does it through narrower means of intervallic and rhythmic relationship within the primary material of her works, by seeking to discover the depth and mysticism of the sound, as well as on a larger scale, through carefully thought architecture of musical form.

Gubaidulina notes that the two composers to whom she experiences a constant devotion are J.S. Bach and Webern. Among some non-musical influences of considerable import are Carl Jung (Swiss thinker and founder of analytical psychology) and Nikolaj Aleksandrovich Berdiaey (Russian religious philosopher, whose works were forbidden in USSR, but nevertheless found and studied by the composer). [source]

[allmusic review]

Gideon Kremer – violin
Marta Sudraba – cello
The Kremerata Baltica




John Cage: Thirteen Harmonies (1985)

John Cages Thirteen Harmonies, for violin and keyboard (1985) is from the CD; Melodies & Harmonies, recorded September 29-30, 2009, Amann Studios, Vienna. The Thirteen Harmonies is a selction of 13 out of a total of 44 Harmonies from Apartment House 1776. Roger Zahab made the selection and created a version for violin and keyboard.

For this disc of music by John Cage for violin and keyboard, Annelise Gahl and Klaus Lang have intermingled the movements of two works, Six Melodies from 1950 and Thirteen Harmonies from 1985. Six Melodies grew out of the same impulse as Cage´s seminal String Quartet in Four Parts, and the composer described the melodies as a postscript to the quartet. With Cage’s approval, composer and violinist Roger Zahab arranged the Thirteen Harmonies from movements of Cage’s Forty-Four Harmonies, part of his 1976 composition, Apartment House 1776, for voices and instruments. The melodies used are hymn tunes by American composers of the Revolutionary period, such as William Billings, Supply Belcher, Andrew Law and James Lyon, and Zahab selected 13 in recognition of the 13 original colonies. Although the two works are from very different creative periods in Cage´s career, they are similar enough in style that they beautifully fit together, particularly in the ordering that violinist Gahl and keyboardist Lang give them. The movements from the two works have lengths from about a minute to 13 minutes. The Harmonies are distinguishable largely because the original hymn tunes are presented with unadorned directness, but otherwise many of the movements from the two works are similar in tone — meditative, introverted, gentle, and optimistic, unfolding with Feldmanesque openness and unpredictability. [read more]

The selected Harmonies are:
1. Nr.18 – Old North (William Billings) (2.32)
2. Nr.42 – Rapture (Collection Belcher) (2:29)
3. Nr.26 – Judea (William Billings) (0:47)
4. Nr.21 – Heath (William Billings) (2:18)
5. Nr.19 – New York (Andrew Law) (4:05)
6. Nr.5 – The Lord Descended (William Billings) (13:09)
7. Nr.11 – Wheeler’s Point (William Billings) (1:06)
8. Nr.14 – Brunswick (James Lyon) (0:46)
9. Nr.15 – Bellingham (William Billings) (1:15)
10. Nr.28 – Greenwich (Andrew Law) (6:38)
11. Nr.35 – Framingham (William Billings) (3:39)
12. Nr.38 – The Lord is Ris’n (William Billings) (4:38)
13. Nr.44 – Bloomfield (Andrew Law) (1:00)

Annelie Gahl – violin
Klaus Lang – keyboards (Fender Rhodes)

John Cage | Annelie Gahl, Klaus Lang | Melodies & Harmonies| Released 2010 | col legno – WWE 1CD 20292


John Cage, New York City, 1985. Photo by Chris Felver.

CLASSICAL20.COM Top 20 Chart (July 2012)

Here are the 20 most popular recordings on CLASSICAL20.COM in July 2012:

Maurice Ravel – Bolero – choreographed by Maurice Béjart – performed by Maya Plisetskaya (1975) 1
Mauricio Kagel – Phantasiestück (1987) 2
Maurice Ravel – Daphnis et Chloé (1912) 3
Terry Riley – Mescalin Mix (1960-62) 4
Morton Feldman – Neither (1977) 5
Esa-Pekka Salonen – Violin Concerto (2009) 6
Philip Glass – Sons of the Silent Age [From the symphony “Heroes”] (1997) 7
John Cage – Branches (1976) 8
Per Nørgård – Turn (1973) 9
Giacinto Scelsi – Aitsi for amplified piano (1974) 10
Marcel Dupré – Symphonie-Passion (1924) 11
W.A. Mozart – Allegro Molto in C Major (1766) 12
Conlon Nancarrow – Piece for Ligeti (1988) 13
Wolfgang Rihm – Magma (1973) 14
Laurie Spiegel – Sediment (1972) 15
Frederic Rzewski – The People United Will Never be Defeated! (1975) 16
Karlheinz Stockhausen – Telemusik (1966) 17
7Alban Berg – Lulu (1937) 18
Philip Glass – Geometry of Circles (1979) 19
Simon Fisher Turner – I’ve Heard The Ammonite Murmur (1992) 20