AMN Reviews: Beat Furrer [2015; MGB CTS-M 141]

7613295407824Composer Beat Furrer (b. 1954), a native of Schaffhausen, Switzerland, and currently Professor of Composition at the University of Music and Performance Art in Graz, Austria, is the subject of this recent installment in the Musiques Suisses series of CDs.

The five compositions collected here represent Furrer’s work for chamber ensembles during the twenty-year period 1991-2011. Although they vary in terms of the size and makeup of the groups for which they were written, all draw on a modernist vocabulary of expanded instrumental techniques and melodies composed of sound colors as well as pitches.

The first two pieces, 1991’s Aer for clarinet, cello and harp, and 1992’s …cold and calm and moving for flute, harp, violin, viola and cello, are scored for mixed ensembles centered around the color contrasts of wind and strings. Aer opposes the active, fluttering clarinet to the more episodic stabs of piano and cello, the latter using different bow articulations to broaden its timbral palette. In …cold and calm and moving Furrer sets up a tension between the strings’ rapid movement and the slower lines of the flute, and then transposes this tension to the work’s overall gestalt by alternating dense and thin textures, and by reversing the frantic phrasing of the first half into a second half marked by long, slow, space-filled passages. The introspectively beautiful Lied (1993) for piano and violin follows. Understated motifs pass back and forth between the two instruments, which frequently complete each other’s phrases and seem to exchange roles as lead and support. The one vocal work, auf tönernen füssen (2001), is a half-whispered, half-spoken setting of a poem by Friederike Mayröcher accompanied by a flute drawing generously on a range of unconventional techniques. The collective effect of these key clicks, rushes of air and rapid passages of notes paired with the calm urgency of the voice is at times uncanny, being more intimate theater than song. The set concludes with 2011’s Studie for Piano, a cyclic work of isolated notes congealing into accelerating cascades and hyperactive register leaps, which dissolve back into fragmentary, individual notes.

A fine set of compelling and well-realized compositions.


Free Jazz Blog Reviews

A shot from a 2006 performance by Peter Brötzm...
Peter Brötzmann

From Free Jazz:

Sun Ra – My Way is the Spaceways (Norton, 2014) *½
Artur Mackowiak & Grzegorz Pleszynski – A Sound Of The Wooden Fish (Wet Music, 2014) ***
Vinny Golia – Solo (Gold Lion Arts, 2015) ****
Amy Reed – Gold Lion (Gold Lion Arts, 2015) ***½
Paulo Chagas – Live Solo (plus Timbre, 2014) ****
Keir Neuringer – Ceremonies out of the Air (New Atlantis, 2014) ****
Will Guthrie – Stepped Stoned (Astral Projections, 2014) ***½
Scott Munro – Monty (Bug Incision, 2014) ***½
Wilhelm Matthies – Breathing (Dark Pebble, Blue Wave, 2014) ***
Erik Friedlander – Illuminations (2015) ****
Mirbeau – White Blues (S/r, 2014) ***½
Brötzmann/Edwards/Noble – Soulfood Available (Clean Feed, 2014) ****
Peter Brötzmann/Jason Adasiewicz – Mollie‘s in the Mood (BRÖ, 2014) ****
Peter Brötzmann/Peeter Uuskyla – Red Cloud on Silver (Omlott, 2015) ****
Peter Brötzmann/Keiji Haino/Jim O’Rourke – Two City Blues 2 (Trost, 2015) ****
Peter Brötzmann/Keiji Haino/Jim O’Rourke – Two City Blues 1 (Trost, 2015) **** ½
Rob Mazurek – Alternate Moon Cycles (Waxing Crescent) (International Anthem, 2014 Lp/dl) ***½
Alternate Moon Cycles (Waning Crescent) (International Anthem, 2014 Cassette Only) ***½
Novellino/rosi/mazurek/barnes – Objects in Mirror Are Closer than They Appear (Discreet Records Lp/dl, 2014) ***½
Bill Frisell – Richter 858
Orange The Juice – The Drug Of Choice (CD/DVD, For Tune, 2014) ***½
Orange The Juice – The Messiah is Back (Self Produced, 2014) ***½
Piho Hupo – Foump (Indigo, 2014) ****

Experimental Music at Trans Pecos, April 9

From New York’s Trans Pecos:

Wet Ink Presents: Experimental Music at Trans Pecos
HPRIZM / The Miz’Ries / Premature Burial / Headless Monkey Attack

Thursday, April 9th
915 Wyckoff Ave, Queens, NY

Wet Ink Presents @ Trans Pecos is a monthly concert series of experimental music presented in Ridgewood, Queens. These concerts aim to bring together unusual music in the NYC area in interesting and exciting combinations. The series is hosted by the Wet Ink Ensemble and curated by Jeff Snyder and Quinn Collins.

HPRIZM is known for “Evoking images of Sun Ra and Africa Bambatta at once” (Jesse Serwer XLR8R). As the founding member of the critically acclaimed Antipop Consortium, Prizm has consistently challenged the boundaries of traditional hip-hop, winning the praise of taste makers across the globe. In the course of his career, spanning nearly a decade, Prizm has shared the stages with a wide array of artists ranging from The Roots to Radiohead, Mos Def and others. As a composer his pieces have been installed in the Whitney Biennial (NYC) as well as the Mazzoli Electro-kraut digital hardcore supergroup, T

he Miz’Ries: uber-americo noise nerd Quinn Collins plays broken records on a turntable with crazy effects, mad genius inventor Jeff Snyder plays his own analog synth creation whilst Neuseelander songstress Leila Adu sings and plays electronic drum pads. The Miz’Ries have been described as “a noise band that plays 3-minute pop songs”, and as “the music that plays in the club the bad guys hang out in”.

Premature Burial is a trio of three heavyweights in the New York improvisation scene. Peter Evans is known for his own Peter Evans Quintet, as well as his performances with ICE (the International Contemporary Ensemble), Nate Wooley, and Rocket Science, a quartet with Evan Parker, Sam Pluta, and Craig Taborn. Matt Nelson can be heard as the saxophonist in TuneYards, Battle Trance, and the Skeletons. Dan Peck is the leader of the doom-jazz trio The Gate with Tom Blancarte and Brian Osborne, as well as a member of ICE and a frequent collaborator with artists like Anthony Braxton, Nate Wooley, and Ingrid Laubrock.

Headless Monkey Attack is an electronic music project founded by composer Ryan Carter, with Dennis Sullivan on percussion. At its core, Headless Monkey Attack performs live electronic music that is synthesized in real time from code that responds to input from a video game controller. Aesthetically, the music draws from different genres of electronic dance music (there’s some vaguely dubstep-y and glitch-y stuff) with a global sense of form more inspired by the long history of the Western classical tradition than the world of EDM. Praised by the New York Times as “imaginative…like, say, a Martian dance party,” Ryan’s music has been commissioned by Carnegie Hall, the MATA Festival, and the Calder Quartet, and has collaborated with the Cleveland Chamber Symphony, the International Contemporary Ensemble, the JACK Quartet, the Mivos Quartet, and many others.

Pierre Boulez’s Life in Service to Music

Pierre Boulez in 2004
Pierre Boulez


Few musicians in history have been as influential within their lifetimes as Pierre Boulez. As a composer and theorist, he shaped the path of modernism in postwar Europe. As a conductor, he redefined concert programming. As an educator and administrator, he oversaw the creation of groundbreaking music facilities. Celebrations around Mr. Boulez’s 90th birthday this season reveal his omnipresence. The Lucerne Festival, the Salzburg Festival, the London Symphony Orchestra, the Aldeburgh Festival in Britain, the newly opened Philharmonie de Paris and the Staatskapelle Berlin are just some of the institutions to have included homages to Mr. Boulez in their programs.

The Spectrum in April

From New York’s Spectrum:

– Diderot String Quartet (April 1)

– Acoustic Frontiers Michael Lytle, Denman Maroney & Robert Dick (April 2) Free-improvisation series

– Nicolas Letman-Burtinovic presents Spectral Interzone – Jazz for the eminently civilized (April 2) Guillermo Gregorio & Nicolas Letman-Burtinovic present a live recording of INTERSECTION, with Scott Tixier, Frederika Krier, Matt Maneri, Daniel Levin, Todd Capp & Nicolas Letman-Burtinovic.

Richard Carrick‘s Friday Night Loud series continues with Chris Cochrane & Stuart Popejoy (April 3)

– Desmadrados Soldados (Manchester) (April 3)

– Wood River (April 3)

– Melissa Tong & special guests (April 4)

– Jason Hardink & Jacob Greenberg (April 4)

– Jason Hardink (April 5)

– Carlo Guaitoli (April 5)

– Toomai String Quartet (April 9)

– Gabriel Zucker presents Thursdays on the Spectrum (April 9) Naomi Woo; Leffert Lefferts with Bryan Qu, Gabriel Zucker, David Halpern & David Su

– Marilyn Nonken’s Voluptuous Virtuosity series continues with Mayuko Yamashita (April 10)

– Us, Today (April 10)

– Eleonor Sandresky’s Retes series returns with a collaboration with Martha Mooke (April 11)

– Charlotte Mundy & Stuart Breczinski (April 11)

– Complexity of Simplicity (April 12) Carlos Cordeiro

– Seth Gilman’s Early/Late series (April 12)

– Viola Yip, Ellery CG Trafford & Max Murray (April 12)

– Curious Chamber Players (April 15)

– Aaron Roche’s Guitar/etc. series (April 15)

– Irene Gomez (Columbia) (April 16)

– Daniel Levin Quartet (April 16) Daniel Levin, Nate Wooley, Matt Moran & Pedro Strom

– Mareike Wiening Jazz Quintet (April 17) Jerome Sabbagh, Alex Goodman, Angelo Di Loreto, Lars Ekman & Mareike Wiening

– Elizabeth Weinfield’s Spectrum HP series (historical performance) (April 18)

– John King’s Born into Flames series featuring Mary Rowell (April 18)

– Ramin Arjomand’s Reinterpretations series with Julianna Mateyko (April 19)

– Guy Barash’s Eavesdropping series featuring Xenia Pestova (UK) (April 19) Highlights include a world premiere by Northern Irish composer Ed Bennett & a world premiere for ROLI Seaboard by Canadian composer Pierre Alexandre Tremblay.

– Earth Day Concert curated by Madeleine Shapiro (April 22) She will present works from her new release, SoundsNature.

– Joe Fee, Jesse Krakow & Tom Shad: Music for Glockenspiel and Bass(es) (April 23) Fee, Krakow & Shad with Adam Forman, Kathleen Supove, Fred Trumpy & Ray Carega

– The French Correction: A Celebration of Pierre Boulez (April 23) Curated by The Brothers Balliett, this 2 day, 3 concert festival marks Boulez’s 90th birthday in grand style with a presentation of rare and beautifully complex works.

Seattle Scene: April 2-18, 2015

From Seattle’s Wayward Music Series:

Chapel Performance Space at Good Shepherd Center
4th Floor, 4649 Sunnyside Ave. N, Seattle 98103 (corner N 50th St. in Wallingford)

Every month, Nonsequitur and a community of like-minded presenters and artists offer ten concerts of adventurous music in an informal yet respectful setting: contemporary classical, free improvisation, the outer limits of jazz, electronic music, microtonal/new instruments, sound art, and other extraordinary sonic experiences. All ages are welcome. All shows 8 PM, $5 – $15 sliding scale at the door unless otherwise noted (check individual listings).

Daria Binkwoski, solo flute
Thu. April 2, 7:30 PM; $5 – $15 at the door

Flutist Daria Binkowski performs Salvatore Sciarrino’s seminal work for solo flute, L’Opera per Flauto, a 75-minute journey through the threshold of silence and sound. At once a work that is experimental, meditative and virtuosic, Sciarrino’s music might be described as “breathed intimacy”. This work is one of the foundations of contemporary flute music and rarely performed in its entirety in a live setting.

Mayumi Tayake, solo piano
Sat. April 4, 6:30 PM; $12 general, $5 students

Seattle-based pianist Mayumi Tayake plays Makrokosmos Volume II for amplified piano by George Crumb, followed by Spiegel im Spiegel by Arvo Pärt (with violinist Sharyn Peterson). The performance will be accompanied by projected images to enhance the listening experience.

FRI. 4/10 – Oliver Groenwald’s NewNet

SAT. 4/11 – Seattle Modern Orchestra with Australian violinist Graeme Jennings

FRI. 4/17 – pianist R. Andrew Lee performs music by Adrian Knight and Nat Evans

SAT. 4/18, 7:00 PM – pianist R. Andrew Lee performs Randy Gibson’s 3+ hour work The Four Pillars Appearing from the Equal D