Luigi Nono: Fragmente-Stille, an Diotima (1979)

In 1979, after a three year long compositional crisis, Luigi Nono returned to composition with a series of works which seemed to be radically different from anything he had made in the preceding three decades. One of these works is the string quartet Fragmente-Stille, an Diotima, which was premiered by the LaSalle Quartet in 1980. Few postwar works have been commented – and praised – as much as this quartet. Only a year after the premiere, Heinz-Klaus Metzger called it Nono’sturning point, and thirty years later, David Metzer looked back at it as one of the works from around 1980 that introduced a new phase of musical modernism. [source]

Diotima was Socrates’ teacher, and is associated with the concept of time. Performed by the Arditti String Quartet, this music is guided by lines from Holderlin’s famous poem, which are present only as an unspoken meditation and guidepost written into the score in 52 places. Nono poses the fundamental questions “Where am I, and who am I?” by examining old music and memories from the distant past as producers of both pain and hope. The composer seeks to “externalize as fully as possible that which has been internalized….” He concludes, “That is what matters today.” [source]

COMPOSER : Luigi Nono

Rohan de Saram – Cello
Levine Andrade – Viola
David Alberman – Violin
Irvine Arditti – Violin

Recorded in Cologne, July 1990 and released in 1991 on Montaigne.







Jerry Goldsmith – Freud: The Secret Passion (1962)

Original Motion Picture Soundtrack
Music composed by Jerry Goldsmith
Freud: The Secret Passion

Freud: The Secret Passion, also known as Freud, is a 1962 American biographical film drama based on the life of Austrian psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud, directed by John Huston and starring Montgomery Clift as Freud. The original script was written by Jean-Paul Sartre, but Sartre withdrew his involvement in the film after disagreements with Huston, and his name was removed from the credits. The film was entered into the 13th Berlin International Film Festival.

The mostly dissonant, atonal score to Freud was one of the earliest works by composer Jerry Goldsmith It garnered Goldsmith his first Oscar nomination, which he lost to fellow rookie composer Maurice Jarre  for lawrence Of Arabia who, like Goldsmith, would go on to become one of the film industry’s most successful and respected composers. The “Main Title” from Freud, as well as the tracks Charcot’s Show and Desperate Case were later purchased and reused without consent of Goldsmith by director Ridley Scott for the acid blood scene and others in the film Alien  (1979), also scored by Goldsmith. [source]

1. Main Title (3:23) / 2. Meynert’s Tour (1:11) / 3. Charcot’s Show (5:13) / 4. Thirsty Girl (1:24) / 5. Case Histories (2:15) / 6. Desperate Case (3:30) / 7. Meynert’s Request (3:35) / 8. The Brothel (5:11) / 9. The Funeral (0:46) / 10. Cecily and the Dancer (3:07) / 11. Cecily´s Dream (1:12) / 12. The First Step (2:25) / 13. Red Tower Street (1:29) / 14. The Failure (1:51) / 15. Freud’s Trauma (3:21) / 16. Return to Red Tower (3:18) / 17. Freud’s Awakening (1:58) / 18. End Title (2:35)

Joseph Gershenson- Conductor






Carl Ruggles – Angels (original trumpet version) (1938)

Angels by Carl Ruggles is originally written for six trumpets, in 1921. This recording is from 1938. The artists  in the Brass Ensemble is unknown, but they were lead by Gerard Schwarz. In 1940, Ruggles rescored the work for trumpets and trombones.

Charles “Carl” Sprague Ruggles (March 11, 1876 – October 24, 1971) was an American composer of the American Five group. He wrote finely crafted pieces using “dissonant counterpoint”, a term coined by Charles Seeger to describe Ruggles’ music. His method of atonal counterpoint was based on a non-serial technique of avoiding repeating a pitch class until a generally fixed number such as eight pitch classes intervened. He wrote painstakingly slowly so his output is quite small. [source]

Photo: Carl Ruggles at work table by John Atherton, ca. 1950.

The complete work of Ruggles (including Angels) can be found on the double album “Carl Ruggles – The Complete Music Of Carl Ruggles”, released in 1980 on Avant Garde Project.

Rhys Chatham – An Angel Moves Too Fast To See, Prelude (1971-1989)

From the album: Chatham, An Angel Moves Too Fast To See, for 100 electric guitars, electric bass and drums.

Like the composer’s works Warehouse of Saints, Songs for Spies, and Symphony No. 3, this innovative and dynamic piece is scored for the unusual ensemble of 100 specially tuned electric guitars, drums, and electric bass. Patterns of bell-like resonances are interchanged in wide spatial distribution among the various massed groups above a continuous rock beat. These first patterns are then alternated with fast tremolos of accumulating tone clusters and later ascending scales. The effect is indeed vast and, if this is your idea of heaven, angelic. [source]

1. Prelude (7:36)
2. Intro (5:06)
3. Allegro (8:39)
4. No Trees Left: Every Blade Of Grass Is Screaming (6:35)
5. Adagio (14:48)

Jonathan Kane – Drums
Ernest Brooks III – Electric Bass
Dominique Pichon – Electric Guitar
Jean-Francois Pauvros – Electric Guitar
Kant Condon – Electric Guitar
Robin Lyon – Electric Guitar

Mixed by Martin Wheeler and Rhys Chatham. Released on Table Of The Elements in 2006.

Here is the documentary of a performance in 1991 of An angel Moves Too Fast to See, Rhys Chatham’s 1989 composition for 100 electric guitars, electric bass and drums:

John Cale – At About This Time Mozart Was Dead And Joseph Conrad Was Sailing The Seven Seas Learning English (1967)

From Steinless Gamelan: Inside The Dream Syndicate Volume III by John Cale.

On the album’s longest work, “At About this Time, Mozart Was Dead and Joseph Conrad Was Sailing the Seven Seas Learning English,” at nearly half an hour for wollensack, viola, and guitar, tape edits are sliced into the mix, altering whole tones and creating intervals out of seeming half and semi-quavers. Interestingly, since the notion of the piece is to move ever upward, these cuts seem to create intervals of modulation where there were none. [source]

John Cale – Tape (Wollensak), Viola, Guitar

Sterling Morrison – Viola, Guitar

The track is recorded May 1967. Released on Table Of The Elements. © John Cale 1967.


Arvo Pärt – Fratres (1984)

The 1984 ECM album Tabula Rasa was the vehicle that introduced the revolutionary music of Arvo Pärtto audiences outside Eastern Europe and initiated what was to become one of the most extraordinary musical careers of the late 20th century. Like many of the first generation American minimalists, he limited himself to diatonic harmonies and generated pieces by setting processes in motion, but the radical simplicity he achieved was the result of religious contemplation that was at least as, if not more, formative than his quest for a new musical aesthetic. The result was music suffused by an unhurried, luminous serenity, and while it was distinctly contemporary, it had an archaic quality that tied it to the music of the very distant past.

Fratres, originally for chamber orchestra, is undeniably Pärt´s most popular work and exists in well over a dozen versions, two of which are included here. Gidon Kremer and Keith Jarret bring great nuance and sensitivity to the version for violin and piano. They play somewhat loosely with details of the score, but they are entirely in sync with the spirit of the piece, and it’s a gripping performance. The violin part is hugely virtuosic and Kremer is breathtaking, particularly in the crystalline purity of the outrageously high harmonics that end the piece. The arrangement of Fratres for 12 cellos is an altogether more lyrical and meditative version, and the cellists of the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra play it with gorgeous tone and depth. [source]

A1: Fratres : Piano – Keith Jarret / Violin Gideon Kremer (11:26)

A2: Cantus In Memory Of Benjamin Britten : Dennis Russel Davies – Conductor / Staatsorchester Stuttgart (5:00)

A3: Fratres: Performer – The 12 Cellists Of The Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra Performer (11:51)

B1: Tabula Rasa: Saulius Sondekis – Conductor / Lithuanian Chamber Orchestra / Alfred Schnittke – Piano (Prepared) / Gideon Kremer – Violin / Tatiana Gindenko – Violin (26:08)

Recording: Fratres, October 1983, Basel / Cantus in memory of Benjamin Britten , January 1984, Stuttgart / Fratres (for 12 celli), February 1984, Berlin / Tabula Rasa, November 1977, Bonn, (Live recording by West German Radio, Cologne) / Released on EMI Records


[Dedicated Ronnie Rocket, thanks for inspiration]

Anton Webern – Variations for piano Opus 27 (1936)

Variations for piano, op. 27, is a twelve-tone piece for piano composed by Anton Webern in 1936. It consists of three movements:

  1. Sehr mäßig (“Very moderate”)
  2. Sehr schnell (“Very fast”)
  3. Ruhig fließend (“Calm, flowing”)

Webern’s only published work for solo piano, the Variations are one of his major instrumental works and a seminal example of his late style. [source]

Glenn Gould – pianoforte, filmed in 1974.


Igor Stravinsky – Symphony In C (1940)

On today’s date in 1940, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra helped to celebrate its 50th anniversary with the premiere performance of a specially commissioned symphony from the famous Russian composer Igor Stravinsky.

Stravinsky himself was on hand to conduct his “Symphony in C” — a work that attracted a great deal of attention at the time. For starters, writing a symphony in the key of C Major seemed a definitely anti-modern gesture at a time when Arnold Schoenberg’s “twelve tone” method of composition was gaining ground with prominent American musicians and critics. “How traditional can you get?” some of these must have thought when they saw the title of Stravinsky’s work.

Stravinsky’s new symphony was quickly labeled “neo-classical,” meaning it consciously harked back in form of Haydn’s or Mozart’s symphonies, albeit clothed, musically speaking, in a much more modern fashion.

Now, traditionally the key of C Major was deemed a “happy” or “bright” key, but Stravinsky composed his Symphony during one of the unhappiest periods of his life, when his wife, his mother and one of his daughters had all died in rapid succession.

“It is no exaggeration to say that in the following weeks I was able to continue my own life only by my work on the Symphony in C,” wrote Stravinsky. “But I did not seek to overcome my grief by portraying or giving expression to it in music, and you will listen in vain, I think, for traces of this sort of personal emotion.”

Composed in 1938 – 1940
CBC Symphony Orchestra
Conductor: Igor Stravinsky

Jukka Tiensuu – Puro (1989)

Jukka Tiensuus composition Puro is commissioned by the Finnish Broadcasting Company, 1989.

Puro has since its worldpremiere (26th April 1989  Helsinki, Finnish RSO Cond: Jukka-Pekka Saraste) becomed the most performed Finnish concerto after the Sibelius Violin Concerto, with most of the performances featuring Kriikku.

Jukka Tiensuu (born 1948) is a Finnish contemporary classical composer, harpichordist, pianist and conductor.

His repertoire as musician ranges from baroque music to John Cage and free improvisation and he has given master classes in baroque performance practice and free improvisation.

He has written as well eletroacoustic music as works for jazz ensemble, baroque music ensemble, large orchestra, ensemble or solo instruments, such as the Finnish instrument kantele.

Tiensuu’s works have been performed by Arditti Quartet, Kari Kriikku, Ensemble Intercontemporain and Jukka-Pekka Saraste, among others. He has also worked at IRCAM.

Jukka Tiensuu has studied in Freiburg, Helsinki and New York. [source]

[Puru exist on the album “Jukka Tiensuu: Nemo; Puro; Spiriti”. You can read the allmusic review here.]




Elliott Carter – Dialogues for solo piano and 18 instruments (2004)

Dialogues for piano and chamber orchestra was a BBC Radio 3 commission for the brilliant young British pianist Nicolas Hodges and is scored for piano solo and a chamber orchestra comprising 18 instruments. Carter writes that “Dialogues is a conversation between the soloist and the orchestra: responding to each other, sometimes interrupting one another or arguing.”

Elliott Carter: “Dialogues” (2004) for solo piano and 18 instruments. David Swan – piano, New Music Concerts Ensemble

***Performance by Daniel Barenboim in Berlin, October 15, 2012. More information here.***