AMN Reviews: Anthony Cheung – Cycles and Arrows [New Focus Recordings: fcr215]

Cycles and Arrows, a collection of complex, well-crafted compositions for chamber ensembles, is the third portrait CD of work by Anthony Cheung (b. 1982). The recording highlights Cheung’s interest in composing with a focus on the qualities of instrumental voices both alone and in combinations.

Cheung’s concern with instrumental color follows naturally from his formation as a composer. A pianist as well as a composer, Cheung had as his primary composition teachers the spectralist Tristan Murail and Bernard Rands; he wrote his dissertation on Ligeti’s Hamburg Concerto, a late work exploring non-harmonic sonorities for solo horn and chamber orchestra. Given this background, it isn’t surprising that Cheung’s compositions tend to engage sonority as a substantive product of careful orchestration.

With the exception of 2015’s Après une lecture, a work for solo oboe, all of the pieces on Cycles and Arrows locate their musical centers of gravity in the timbral effects of instrumental aggregations and divisions. One of the more adventurous instances is More Marginalia (2014) for a ten-piece ensemble. The composition represents a reworking of Cheung’s 2012 piece for ten traditional Chinese instruments, originally written for the Taipei Chinese Orchestra. For the newer work, Cheung replaced half the Chinese instruments with Western instruments of more-or-less analogous makeup. The ensemble’s unconventional makeup allows Cheung to set up shifting timbral alliances and oppositions between groups of instruments whose contrasting voices reflect contrasting traditions and playing techniques; especially effective are the contrasts between the plucked and bowed Chinese instruments on the one hand, and Western strings and winds on the other. In this piece as in the other works for chamber orchestra, Cheung plays instrumental coalitions off against each other in constellations of color that break apart as quickly as they cohere.

Although a solo piece, Après une lecture also is essentially about the dynamics of sound color. Based on a free reading of Leoš Janáček’s transcriptions of spoken language, Cheung’s composition, forcefully realized by oboist Ernest Rombout, draws on a vocabulary of microtones and multiphonics to mimic the vagaries of the human voice; its irregular accents and tempos, along with mercurial changes of register, convey something of the range of sonic nuances that are an integral, if often overlooked, dimension of linguistic meaning.

Daniel Barbiero


Kyoko Kitamura and Carl Testa Interviewed

Source: Citizen Jazz.

Kyoko Kitamura and Carl Testa are two musicians well known to lovers of creative music and jazz across the Atlantic. The singer, who released two albums in quick succession, was heard with Steve Coleman or Joe Morris. Multi-instrumentalist Carl Testa is a regular on Tyshawn Sorey’s projects. They have in common, along with other musicians like Taylor Ho Bynum, the Tri-Centric Foundation. An organization in charge of the popularization and transmission of the work of Anthony Braxton, of which they are all close collaborators.

This Week in New York


Michael HerschLong DescriptionMichael Hersch
Michael Hersch joins Miranda Cuckson on stage to perform his music, including excerpts from in the snowy margins, Fourteen Pieces, and more.
Tuesday, September 18 at 8:00 PM
Tickets $20
National Sawdust, 80 North 6th Street, Brooklyn, NY

The Crossing will perform the program of arms and the man, which is designed to utilize the Armory’s historic reception rooms with cello solos punctuating the transitions between the spaces. The program includes world and New York premieres by David Lang, Louis Andriessen, and a new work by Ted Hearne, co-commissioned by the Armory.
Wednesday, September 19 at 7:30 PM and Thursday, September 20 at 5:00 PM and 7:30 PM
Tickets $65
Park Avenue Armory, 643 Park Avenue, New York, NY

Elizabeth Baker celebrates the release of Quadrivium with a concert featuring live performances of selections from the two-hour album and a collaborative work with digital media artist Bahareh Khoshooee. A limited supply of physical copies of the album will be available for purchase at the event.
Saturday, September 22 at 7:00 PM
Tickets $15
Areté, 67 West Street, Brooklyn, NY

Dana Jessen will perform a series of acoustic improvisations as well as works for bassoon and electronics. Her program features Points Against Fields by Sam Pluta, Fireflies in Winter by Peter V. Swendsen, and of an implacable subtraction by Paula Matthusen. Yeh and Lampert will present the next installment of a collaborative performance first staged at the New Music Circle in St. Louis, MO in Spring 2018. Amplified violin and multiple film projectors are haphazardly paired in a way that purposefully undermines each of the artists’ extended histories operating in the realms of “expanded cinema” and “live scoring”.
Saturday, September 22 at 8:00 PM
Tickets $15, $10 students
Project Q, 1850 Amsterdam Avenue, New York, NY

New Releases from Midira Records

Source: Midira Records.

Unconquered: 2008​​-​​2018 (2xCD | Digital)
10 years ago thisquietarmy released his debut album, that marked a new direction in the music career of Eric Quach. To celebrate this very special album, we worked out a very special re-release. This new edit comes with new artwork by Eric Quach, with newly mastered and remixed tracks and with a second CD full of previously unreleased tracks from 2008, like the 30 minutes long “Into Dust, Out Of Dust” inspired by Mazzy Star.

Attilio Novellino
A Conscious Effort (Vinyl)
Italian artist Attilio Novellino has his very own signature sound, that melts ambient, drone and electronic sounds into a floating soundwave, full of twists and transformations. The album also features a variation of guest musicians like Tim Barnes, Alex Vatagin, Daniel Mackenzie (Ekca Liena), Witxes and more, who expand the soundcosmos of this release in many special ways.