AMN Reviews: Scott Wollschleger – Soft Aberration [New Focus FCR 182]

Composer Scott Wollschleger (b. 1980) seems most interested in creating musical effects through a deliberately-chosen economy of means. He writes largely for chamber ensembles or soloist performers, and in fact Soft Aberration, the first album dedicated to his work alone, contains compositions for solo, duo, trio and quartet.

A couple of the titles of these works—Soft Aberration, Brontal Symmetry—are likely to call up associations with New York School composers, especially Morton Feldman. Wollschleger has acknowledged the New York School and Feldman as influences and exemplary figures; like Feldman, Wollschleger favors constructing pieces out of repeating fragments of pitches, timbres, or rhythmic figures. His method for building a full-scale work out of these basic elements generally consists of creating chains of semi-independent events or moments defined by a relatively simple pattern of pitch, color, or rhythmic relationships. One moment doesn’t necessarily implicate the next; Wollschleger’s stated aim in making continuous works from discontinuous, repeating events is to encourage the listener to reflect on the sounds’ different facets–as if they had been presented from different angles.

The long piece that opens the album, 2015’s Brontal Symmetry, was commissioned by the unorthodox piano trio Longleash, who perform it here; the work is an astutely-chosen opener, as it epitomizes some of the key aspects of Wollschleger’s aesthetic. The piece lays out its fundamental musical material from the start, as it begins with a staccato, deliberately square-rhythmed three-note motif on the piano. The motif is picked up on the strings, which reproduce its phrase profile more than its exact melody; the playing then dissolves into a simulacrum of chaos—of acoustic white noise carried on the frenzied bowing of the strings. This contrast of moods sets a larger, symmetrical pattern in which the piece alternates passages defined by the simple motif with chaotic or quiet passages.

The white noise of the strings’ unpitched moments in Brontal Symmetry is developed further in —and alluded to in the title of–White Wall (2013) for string quartet.  Played with the requisite subtlety by the Mivos Quartet, White Wall’s softly bowed, muted strings and whistling harmonics—broken on occasion by plucked or bowed stabs–largely exist in an audio environment notable for its low dynamics and dispersed texture. White Wall is a piece of extraordinary sonic delicacy that serves as the understated focus of the album.

The album’s other compositions—the title track, for piano and viola; America, for solo cello; and Bring Something Incomprehensible into This World, for the unusual duo of soprano and trumpet—give more evidence of a composer who can extract the expressive maximum from minimal musical means.

Daniel Barbiero

This Week in New York


Hyper-minimalist microtonality and sensual phenomena take center stage as Western Enisphere presents the world premiere of new work for ensemble and electronics. Formed by David First and Jeanann Dara in April 2012, Western Enisphere seeks to develop a body of hyper-minimalist, audio-video just intonation and microtonal works steeped in First’s concepts of Gestural Improvisation, defined as a set of procedures that isolates musical elements and elevates them to the level of most significant extrapolative detail.
Tuesday, November 14 at 8:00 PM
Tickets $15-$20
Roulette, 509 Atlantic Avenue, Brooklyn, NY

Roulette dives into dub with Raz Mesinai’s bass-heavy Sleepwalker 3, a piece for piano, violin, bass and electronics that combines dub, contemporary composition and sound system design. The evening’s performance will be the third iteration of the piece, with the first version having been performed nearly seven years ago.
Wednesday, November 15 at 8:00 PM
Tickets $15-$20
Roulette, 509 Atlantic Avenue, Brooklyn, NY

International Contemporary Ensemble and a list of soloists perform composer Marcos Balter’s work, including two pieces composed for ICE.
Thursday, November 16 at 8:00 PM
Tickets $20-$30
Miller Theatre, 2960 Broadway, New York, NY

Taking place as all-day marathon event, this new festival is focused the idea of collaboration and connection between artists. Taking the concept of “open source” as its inspiration, the festival presents an impressive line-up of performers and ensembles from across the contemporary classical, jazz and electronic music worlds. In addition, Joel Fan will perform the world premiere of a new piano suite he commissioned for the occasion. Titled Couplets, this new world features contributions from 8 composers in 4 pairs, each a married couple, including Michael Gordon and Julia Wolfe, and Anthony Cheung and Wang Lu.
Saturday, November 18 at 12:00 PM
Tickets $40
Abrons Arts Center, 466 Grand Street, New York, NY

Concert features five world premieres and three United States premieres by Tokyo- and NYC-based composers. The world premieres, written specifically for clarinetist/hichiriki player Thomas Piercy, are by composers Chen Yihan, Bin Li, Paul Morin, Miho Sasaki, and Michael Schelle; the United States premieres are by composers Chatori Shimizu, Hifumi Shimoyama, and Isaji Sunao.
Saturday, November 18 at 7:00 PM
Tickets $30, $15 students/seniors
Tenri Cultural Institute, 43 West 13th Street, New York, NY

Blank Forms presents the music of Dominique Lawalrée, a Belgian composer and keyboard player, often associated with the New Simplicity movement, with over 500 compositions and 29 albums of hermetic, euphonic minimalism to his name.
Saturday, November 18 at 8:00 PM
Tickets $20, $15 members
San Damiano Mission, 85 North 15th Street, Brooklyn, NY

All About Jazz Reviews

English: Steve Beresford

Via All About Jazz.

Ross Hammond & Jon Bafus
Masonic Lawn (Prescott Recordings)

Multiple Artists
Ivo Perelman Makes It Rain

Mike Caratti / Rachel Musson / Steve Beresford
Hesitantly Pleasant (Iluso Records)

King Crimson
Sailors’ Tales 1970-1972 (Panegyric Recordings)

Machine Mass
Plays Hendrix (MoonJune Records)

Stephan Crump / Kris Davis / Eric McPherson
Asteroidea (Intakt Records)

Spontaneous Music Ensemble
Karyobin (Emanem)

Kodian Trio
II (Trost Records)

Wadada Leo Smith
Najwa (TUM Records)

Nakatani Gong Orchestra in Orlando, November 18

Via thecm5.

Saturday, November 18th, 2017
Timucua Arts Foundation, Gallery at Avalon Island and The Civic Minded 5 present
Nakatani Gong Orchestra
Gallery at Avalon Island
39 S. Magnolia Ave, Orlando
7:00 pm doors, 7:30 concert

Look over our concert history and Tatsuya Nakatani becomes closest the cm5 has to a visiting relative returning as the Fall breaks and back to Winter transpires. Almost to the day last year, the percussionist brought electric guitar legend Makoto Kawabata along for his holiday concert. Nakatani’s events are storytelling and ritual for stone-silent audiences. He is creative, improvised music’s Duke Ellington meets Black Flag roadhog. Those neo-ubiquitous crews appeared in your town and everyone else’s, too. Ellington had the custom railroad sleeping car for his orchestra. Black Flag had Get In The Van. Tatsuya has his meridian-hopping Dodge Sprinter complete with a sleeper rack and a kitchen capable of inspiring a Food Network series. The percussionist brings Premier League improvising music to places on and off the new music grid. Like Ellington and Black Flag, the touring goes on for contiguous months by doing it all. One night in the week, it’s the Kennedy Center. Days later, it’s the Bug Tussle Center for Rheumatis Research or some such cultural psychic center. The Nakatani Sprinter van also has the potential to off-load gongs/bows/mallets to create a workshopping orchestra in your town. Fourteen of your friends and neighbors undergo a gong orchestra workshop and deliver a transductive sound bath to all. Bring pillows, blankets, Ashtanga yoga primary positions, etc.

Cowell, Cage, and Crumb in Philadelphia Reviewed

Henry Cowell

Via Phindie.

If you were hoping for a cozy little concert with harpsichords and Mozart, this series is not for you. Last Wednesday’s concert, sponsored by music enthusiast Anthony B. Creamer, III, was hard core. The musician, Singaporean Margaret Leng Tan, is a formidable pianist who has devoted her performances to nonconventional modern music.

The program was entitled Cowell, Cage, Crumb – Pioneers of the Avant-Garde Piano. Tan performed John Cage’s long piece for prepared piano, The Perilous Night, which he wrote in 1944. Cage, known for his unconventional gimmicks, created this piece of relatively conventional sounds, excepting the bell-like sounds produced by the prepared instrument, and he ended it in a sort of rock rhythm and tunefulness that was a harbinger of the 1950s American popular style.