For a long time, Anton Bruckner’s Sixth Symphony (alongside the Second) was regarded as something of a ‘poor relation’ in his immense symphonic oeuvre, although the composer himself had moodily referred to it as his “boldest.” Over the decades, in view of its performance figures and recordings, this changed significantly: The work has now secured itself a permanent place in the repertoire. The Sixth Symphony belongs to the creative process of the two preceding symphonies, the “Romantic” Fourth and the Fifth, and is now understood as an important preliminary stage in Bruckner’s last great upsurge that followed the composition of the “Te Deum” and culminated in the sublime grandeur of his final symphonies, the Seventh, Eighth, and Ninth. The “very solemn” Adagio of the Sixth Symphony, in particular, provided the model for the famous Adagio of the Seventh Symphony that followed it. The recent Munich concert performance of May 2017 has now been released by BR-Klassik. This outstanding interpretation of one of the key compositions in the late Romantic symphonic repertoire is conducted by Bernard Haitink.
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
Mi-Parti is an orchestral work by Polish composer Witold Lutosławski, written in 1976 to a commission from the City of Amsterdam for the Concertgebouw Orchestra. The name broadly means in two parts, and is in accordance with Lutosławski’s preference for two-part structures during the 1960s to 1970s: a preparation part, and a main body with development and climax (this is most clearly demonstrated in his Symphony No. 2). [source]
Composed and Conducted by Witold Lutoslawski.
Recorded in 1976 with The Polish Radio National Symphony Orchestra, at Studios of Polish Radio & TV, Katowice.
From the EMI-album: Lutosławski* : Polish Radio N.S.O.*, Lutosławski* – Concerto Per Orchestra · Jeux Vénitiens · Livre Pour Orchestre · Mi-parti
Paul Hindemith (1895-1963). Hindemith is among the most significant German composers of his time. His early works are in a late romantic idiom, and he later produced expressionist works, rather in the style of early Arnold Schoenberg, before developing a leaner, contrapuntally complex style in the 1920s. This style has been described as neoclassical, but is very different from the works by Igor Stavinsky labeled with that term, owing more to the contrapuntal language of Johann Sebastian Bach and Max Reger than the Classical clarity of Mozart. [source]
1. Phantasie (3:06)
2. Thema mit Variationen (4:01)
3. Finale mit Variationen (10:09)
Kim Kaskashian – Viola
Robert Levin – Piano
From: Paul Hindemith – Kim Kashkashian – Robert Levin - Sonatas For Viola And Piano And Viola Alone, released in 1988.
From the album by the Croatian composer Dubravko Detoni: Jugoslav AvanGarde Music: Graphies I.II.III / Phonomorphia 1.2.3., written between 1967 – 1970 and released in 1970.
Dubravko Detoni (born 1937 in Križevci, Croatia) is a composer, pianist and writer. Although active since the early 1970s he is almost unknown internationally.
He was educated in Zagreb, Sienna, Warsaw and Darmstadt, and studied with John Cage in Paris. He has written more than a hundred musical pieces, theatrical spectacles, multimedia and performance pieces, books of poetry, essays, commentaries, and radio and TV programs.
As the founder and leader of the ensemble, ACEZANTEZ, he has performed around Europe, Asia and America. [source]
Dubravko Detoni – Piano & Tape
Reviewed by Andy Gill.
I Fagiolini here presents the premiere recording of Striggio’s recently discovered Mass composed for five choirs of eight parts apiece, which is presumed to be the inspiration for Thomas Tallis’s similarly monumental exercise in Renaissance polyphony, “Spem in alium”. Though Striggio’s more formal Italian harmonic decorum precludes the kind of harmonic complexities that make Tallis’s masterwork such a superb experience, it nonetheless inhabits a powerfully affecting landscape, and is arranged here for period orchestration featuring viols, cornetts, lutes and the like. It’s accompanied by an impressive “Ecce beatem lutem”, the piece believed to be the seed-corn for his Mass.
[via The Independent]
Visit the album web site here.
A documentary film by George Scott.
Rufus Wainwright is a unique singer-songwriter and is one of the few pop musicians with the artistic credentials to be taken seriously in the classical world
Decca will release a comprehensive 90-minute documentary exploring Rufus Wainwright’s life-long interest in opera, the composition of his first opera, Prima Donna, and following rehearsals of the work up to the opening night on 10 July 2009 at the Manchester International Festival
The opera narrates the story of Régine Saint Laurent (Janis Kelly), once the world’s most revered operatic soprano, who is preparing for her return to the stage after six years of silence. But in doing so, Régine is forced to confront the ghosts of her past. Can she defeat the demons that destroyed her career, and emerge triumphantly once more into the spotlight?
The opera was received extremely well by press: ‘A love song to opera’ (The Times), ‘Disarmingly beautiful’ (New York Times), ‘Thrilling’ (Manchester Evening News) and ‘Breathtaking design’, found The Guardian.
The DVD is an extended version of the BBC’s Imagine… documentary, first broadcast on BBC One in the summer of 2009 and will include extensive interview footage with Rufus, his parents, sister, boyfriend, Prima Donna’s conductor and director, plus endorsements from Renée Fleming. The extra footage includes Wainwright singing the final Prima Donna aria at the piano and him singing Shakespeare’s Sonnet no.20.
Read a review in Financial Times here.
The concertina rarely features in classical music outside the work of Astor Piazzolla or Pauline Oliveiros, and its use alongside strings in these four pieces is indicative of the Korean composer Isang Yun’s fondness for unusual instrumental combinations. The Taoist principles behind his work are perhaps most evident in the rising figures representing the shift from darkness to light in Duo, or the contrast between the high, bird-like violins and the vibrant chord-clusters of Stefan Hussong’s accordion in Concertino. Originally scored for cello and piano, Intermezzo is less diverse, with the cello’s bowed lowing occupying similar space to the accompanying accordion drone. [The Independent].