AMN Reviews: Joshua Rubin – There Never Is No Light [Tundra TUN 002 CD]

For over fifty years now composers and performers have used electronics to enhance, augment, and otherwise expand the range of sounds that can be produced by a conventional acoustic instrument. There Never Is No Light, the debut recording solo by clarinetist Joshua Rubin, works within this by now well-established tradition by situating the acoustic instrument fruitfully at many points along a continuum running from music to noise.

Rubin, who plays bass clarinet as well as clarinet, is a founder and artistic director of the International Contemporary Ensemble. His skills as a curator are well-displayed in the selection of the six works on this CD, which range over thirty years and two generations of electroacoustic composers.

The disc opens auspiciously with The Soul Is the Arena (2010) for amplified bass clarinet and electronics, a work that Rubin commissioned from composer Mario Diaz de Leon and premiered at Chicago’s Velvet Lounge in November, 2010. For this sometimes boisterous duet Rubin plays the bass clarinet with a harshly distorted sound as he chases electronic shadows in a vigorous game of pursuit. Synchronisms No. 12 (2006) is another duet for reed and electronics by another Mario—Mario Davidovsky. In contrast to the manic energy of The Soul Is the Arena, Synchronisms is a more restrained, reflective soliloquy for unaltered clarinet with discreet electronic interventions. Rubin’s playing is deeply engaging, using carefully modulated dynamics and drawing on the full compass of the instrument. The earliest composition in the collection, Olly Wilson’s Echoes (1974), is a duet for tape and clarinet; in addition to its own inherent interest as an effective pairing of acoustic and prerecorded sounds, it provides historical context for the newer electroacoustic works on the CD.

Suzanne Farrin’s Ma Dentro Dove (2010) for clarinet and resonating body is one piece within the larger cycle Corpo di Terra, a collection of compositions inspired by the sonnets of the fourteenth-century Italian poet Francesco Petrarca. The title, taken from a line in Canzoniere 9, translates as “but within, where”—an apt name for a work that takes the sound of the mic’d clarinet and feeds it into the resonant interior of a piano. The rhetoric of the piece is built on a virtuoso technical vocabulary turned to expressive ends; Rubin’s performance is as affecting as it is arresting. Mexican composer Ignacio Baca Lobera’s exhilarating Salto Cuantico (2011) also calls for a virtuoso performance for a prepared clarinet that confronts electronic sounds on their own turf, as it were.

Rubin is co-composer of 2012’s Toast, a kind of aleatory work in which a synthesizer unpredictably accompanies Rubin and co-composer/pianist Cory Smythe through the rises and defiles of sonically broken ground.

http://tundrasounds.org

Daniel Barbiero

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This Week in New York

Source: I CARE IF YOU LISTEN.

HOW FORESTS THINK | MOSTLY MOZART FESTIVAL
The temple of nature in which Schubert and his fellow Romantics worshipped is revisited by contemporary composers in this fascinating program. Audience members are invited to listen to the earth through the hushed reverence of Pauline Oliveros’s ritualistic Earth Ears, Anna Thorvaldsdottir’s Aequilibria, and the immersive sound world of Liza Lim’s How Forests Think.
Monday, August 14 at 7:30 PM
Tickets $30
Merkin Concert Hall At Kaufman Music Center, 129 West 67th Street, New York, NY

IKARUS (DUO FOR BINYA) | DEBRA KAYE
Composer Debra Kaye’s work, Ikarus (Duo for Binya) for violin and viola will be performed at the intimate Mezzrow Classical Salon.
Sunday, August 20 at 5:00 PM
Tickets $20, $10 students
Mezzrow Classical Salon, 163 West 10th Street, New York, NY

How “Bitches Brew” Blew Our Minds

Bitches Brew

Source: Salon.com.

In an era awash in commodified violence and gore — death metal and dark industrial, serial killer studies, Headline News Network, embedded war reporters — the opening seconds of Miles Davis’s album, “Bitches Brew,” remain the single most ominous thing in the infinite man-years of experience and consumption that pop culture has produced.