AMN Reviews: Nicholas Deyoe – “for Duane” [populist records PR013]

Nicholas Deyoe’s “for Duane,” a collection of recent work for small ensembles, opens up areas of expression that often take advantage of the incremental dissonances of microtonal sounds and the darker shades of low-compass instruments. Deyoe, a West Coast composer who studied with Roger Reynolds, teaches composition at the California Institute of the Arts’ Herb Alpert School of Music. In addition to his compositional work, he is an experimental electric guitarist and founder of the ensemble wasteLAnd, the Los Angeles new music collective featured on most of the disc’s performances.

Voice figures prominently throughout the collection. The first piece, the seven-part Finally, the cylindrical voids tapping along (2016) is a setting of texts by poet Allison Carter for flute, trombone, cello, double bass and soprano Stephanie Aston. Deyoe floats Carter’s text, which includes incongruous images and free associations arranged alphabetically, over the sharp ends of notes clustered together in a close but brittle proximity. It’s a good match of music to words, as harmonic tension complements semantic ambiguity. Lied/Lied (2013) has violinist Batya MacAdam Somer speaking and singing her own text–at times surreal, at other times a fractured reminiscence—while playing a suitably fragmentary violin part that seems capriciously to underscore, punctuate, amplify, argue with and contradict the words, just as the title’s multilingual pun implicitly calls their veracity into question.

The instrumental 1560 (2016), a three-part composition for violin and viola realized by the Aperture Duo, is a performance piece with a spatial element: each movement calls for the players to take up a specified position relative to each other. The individual parts reflect this movement by matching up in unison drones and flurries of notes, or separating into lines rising and falling against each other. The underlying constant is a tight coordination between the two. Lullaby 6, also from 2016, is a two-movement concerto for amplified cello and nine-piece chamber ensemble that both closes the album and serves as its center of gravity. Dedicated to Deyoe’s recently deceased father, the piece is a lullaby in the way that a requiem is a lullaby for the dead. The orchestration is decisive in creating a charged ambience—it’s heavily weighted with a preponderance of low brass and reeds, giving the piece the gravitas it needs. Cellist Ashley Walters’s solo lines maintain the understated emotional intensity of the piece as the ensemble raises a dark curtain of sound behind her.

Daniel Barbiero

New From Tzadik

John Zorn (cropped version)

Via Tzadik.

Connie Converse : Vanity Of Vanities–A Tribute To Connie Converse
Connie Converse was a remarkable composer who worked in the 1950s and 1960s. By 1974, depressed over her lack of recognition and success, she packed up her belongings and drove off never to be heard of again. Little known in her lifetime, she is now viewed as a pioneer of the modern singer/songwriter genre. This exciting compilation collects fifteen of her most unique and soulful songs performed by an all-star group of contemporary singer/songwriters. Featuring an informative essay by musician and Converse scholar David Garland, Vanity of Vanities is a heartfelt tribute to one of the unsung heroes of contemporary songwriting.

John Zorn : The Hermetic Organ–Philharmonie De Paris
John Zorn returns to his original instrument with a new volume of organ improvisations recorded at his infamous Weekend in Paris in April 2017. The organ at the Grand Salle Pierre Boulez is one of the most powerful and versatile in France, and Zorn approaches it with great sensitivity and wild abandon. Includes both the full 40 minute concert recording, and over 30 additional minutes of Zorn alone at the manuals in rehearsal the same day.

This Week in New York


MATA Jr. returns for its fourth installment of new music by tomorrow’s composer superstars. On Monday November 20th, the Kaufman Center’s teen new-music ensemble, Face the Music, will perform newly composed works by Jack Bettigole (b. 2005), Charlotte Costantino (b. 1999), Bram Fisher (b. 2000), Jonah Murphy (b. 2000), Isai Rabiu (b. 2005), and Miles Short (b. 1998).
Monday, November 20 at 7:30 PM
Tickets $20
ShapeShifter Lab, 18 Whitwell Place, Brooklyn, NY

Metropolis Ensemble percussionist Ian Rosenbaum creates an hour-long immersive musical narrative culminating in Christopher Cerrone’s work Memory Palace. Through electro-acoustic soundscapes, visual projections, and a fluid juxtaposing of unexpected techniques and instruments, works by five composers are interwoven to explore new, expressive possibilities for solo percussion.
Monday, November 20 at 7:30 PM
Tickets $20, $10 students
Caveat, 21 Clinton Street, New York, NY

Pianist Karl Larson performs Part I of the complete piano works of Scott Wollschleger. The concert features the world premiere of Wollschleger’s For Nils, the New York premiere of his Gas Station Canon Song, plus performances of Wollschleger’s Secret Machine No. 4, In Search of Lost Color, Dark Days, and Tiny Oblivion.
Monday, November 20 at 8:30 PM
Tickets $15, $10 students/seniors
Spectrum, 70 Flushing Avenue, Garage A, Brooklyn, NY