AMN Reviews: Lewis Nielson – Axis [Mode Records 283]

283-nielsonThe music of Lewis Nielson, who recently retired as chair of the Oberlin Conservatory of Music Composition Department, pushes the fragmentary language of modernism to a breaking point and couches it in contemporary timbres.

Nielson’s work can be highly expressive—his Il Romanticismo di Lucrezia e Cesare (2014), a theatrical piece for double bass, soprano and tape, appropriates the grand emotional sweep of opera and turns advanced double bass technique to equally dramatic use. By contrast, the three recent pieces collected here, composed between 2005 and 2010, largely eschew dramatic rhetoric and instead tend to rely on the accumulation of piecemeal gestures which gradually gather up into a whole. In a way they recall what Carlo Ginzburg called the “intuizione bassa”—the inductive leap by virtue of which a full picture suddenly appears out of scattered traces.

The string quartet Le Journal du Corps (2010), performed by the JACK Quartet, is an episodic work in which the four voices occasionally converge but more often seem to operate independently. It begins sparsely, testing the silence with tentative stabs of sound, and slowly gathers momentum and mass. Nielson intersperses rapid runs, droning chords and brittle harmonics with the “unmusical,” quasi-industrial sounds of creaking and grinding. A few minutes away from the ending there’s a chant-like sung part drawing on text taken from a play by Martinican poet Aimé Césaire. Nielson’s choice of text makes explicit the quartet’s anti-imperialist programmatic intent. Tocsin (2009) is a similarly programmatic work of assembled and disassembled pieces. The all-percussion work, performed by red fish blue fish, uses changes in sound density and dynamics to illustrate the coalescence and dissolution of crowds during periods of political upheaval. Finally Axis (2005), for solo percussion and string quintet—for which cellist Emily Du Four joins JACK—is a concatenation of nervous spasms of sound, the restless pizzicato and scuffled bowings of the strings playing off of percussionist Steven Schick’s unsettling attacks on drums and cymbals.

http://www.moderecords.com

Daniel Barbiero

Upcoming Seattle Shows

From Wayward Music:

SAT. 11/21, 8 PM – Nonsequitur presents Alaskan composer John Luther Adams: The Mathematics of Resonant Bodies, with percussionist Steven Schick; and Nunataks + Among Red Mountains, with pianist Cristina Valdes

Seattle Times: http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/thearts/2010302581_adams19.html
The Stranger: http://www.thestranger.com/seattle/the-score/Content?oid=2763843

MON. 11/23 – Joel Palmer + Scott Ezell, guitars and electronics

TUE. 12/1 – DX ARTS presents Yutaka Makino + Stelios Manousakis + Stephanie Pan, electro-acoustic

FRI. 12/4 – James Garlick, violin & Judith Cohen, piano play Corigliano, Bach, Ives, Bartok

SAT. 12/5 – Brad Sherman, clarinet & Sarah Bassingthwaighte, flutes – contemporary chamber music

FRI. 12/11 – Seattle Phonographers Union CD release concert + Perri Lynch solo set, field recordings

SAT. 12/12 – Seattle Phongraphers Union (different line up than above) + Christopher DeLaurenti solo set, more field recordings

THU. 12/17 – Eye Music, graphic scores performed by large ensemble of all-star Seattle experimentalists

SAT. 12/19 – Vance Galloway & Rafael Irisarri, ambient/drone for guitar, piano, electronics

WED. 12/23 – Marc Smason, trombone & Perry Robinson, clarinet + friends, out jazz

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Coming up in Seattle

From Wayward Music:

THU. 11/5 – WA Composers Forum presents Nu:BC, contemporary chamber ensemble from Canada

FRI. 11/6 – Seattle Composers’ Salon, music by Keith Eisenbrey, Emily Doolittle, Cole Bratcher, Tom Baker

SAT. 11/7 – Earshot Jazz Festival presents Hans Koch (solo bass clarinet) and Paul Kikuchi’s Portable Sanctuary (w/ Stuart Dempster, Alex Vittum, Jesse Olsen)

FRI. 11/13 – Lori Goldston, amplified cello; Dylan Carlson (EARTH), electric guitar; KnotPineBox, guitar, voice, etc.

SAT. 11/14 – Neil Welch, saxophone + Operation ID – CD release concert

TUE. 11/17 – Oana Rusu Tomei (piano), Victoria Parker (violin), Arthur Zadinsky (violin): music of Enescu, Franck, Szymanowski & Shostakovich

SAT. 11/21 – Nonsequitur presents Alaskan composer John Luther Adams, with percussionist Steven Schick and pianist Cristina Valdes

TUE. 12/1 – DX ARTS presents Yutaka Makino & Stelios Manousakis, electro-acoustic

FRI. 12/4 – James Garlick, solo violin recital

SAT. 12/5 – Brad Sherman, clarinet & Sarah Bassingthwaighte, flutes – contemporary chamber music

FRI. 12/11 – Seattle Phonographers Union CD release concert + Perri Lynch solo set, field recordings

SAT. 12/12 – Seattle Phongraphers Union (different line up than above) + Christopher DeLaurenti solo set, more field recordings

THU. 12/17 – Eye Music, graphic scores performed by large ensemble of all-star Seattle experimentalists

SAT. 12/19 – Vance Galloway & Rafael Irisarri, ambient/drone for guitar, piano, electronics

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Upcoming Seattle Shows

From Wayward Music:

THU. 10/22, 8 PM – Nonsequitur presents Louisville pianist Rachel Grimes (of the band Rachel’s) + Seattle electronic cellist Gretchen Yanover

SAT. 10/24, 8 PM – Earshot Jazz Fest + Nonsequitur present Phantom Orchard (Zeena Parkins, harp & Ikue Mori, laptop) + Peggy Lee, cello & Saadet Türköz, voice

COMING UP:

TUE. 10/27, 7:30 – Earshot Jazz Fest + Nonsequitur present WA Composers Orchestra, performing music by Robin Holcomb, Tom Varner, and Wayne Horvitz

THU. 10/29, 7:30 – Earshot Jazz Festival presents Tom Varner Tentet + Andy Clausen & Sjenka

MON. 11/2, 7:30 – Earshot Jazz Festival & Polestar present Achim Kaufmann (piano), Frank Gratkowski (alto saxophone & clarinets), and Wilbert de Joode (bass)

THU. 11/5 – WA Composers Forum presents Nu:BC, contemporary chamber ensemble from Canada

FRI. 11/6 – Seattle Composers’ Salon, artists TBA

SAT. 11/7 – Earshot Jazz Festival presents Hans Koch (solo bass clarinet) and Paul Kikuchi’s Portable Sanctuary (w/ Stuart Dempster, Alex Vittum, Jesse Olsen)

FRI. 11/13 – Lori Goldston, amplified cello; Dylan Carlson (EARTH), electric guitar; KnotPineBox, guitar, voice, etc.

SAT. 11/14 – Neil Welch, saxophone

TUE. 11/17 – Oana Rusu Tomei (piano) & friends

SAT. 11/21 – Nonsequitur presents Alaskan composer John Luther Adams, with percussionist Steven Schick and pianist Cristina Valdes

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Classical Listings in the New York Times

From NYTimes.com:

MMARTISTS IN CONCERT (Friday) The Metropolitan Museum’s resident chamber group, the awkwardly named MMArtists in Concert, play Mozart’s Duo No. 2 for Violin and Viola (K. 424) and the sublime Divertimento in E flat (K. 563), as well as Sofia Gubaidulina’s “Rejoice” Sonata for Violin and Cello. The players are Colin Jacobsen, violinist; Nicholas Cords, violist; and Edward Arron, cellist. At 7 p.m., Metropolitan Museum of Art, 212-570-3949 , metmuseum.org; $40. (Kozinn)20091015

MEREDITH MONK (Wednesday and Thursday) As part of the Brooklyn Academy of Music’s Next Wave series, Meredith Monk, for more than 40 years a composer, vocalist, performance artist, filmmaker and choreographer who has attracted an ardent following, presents “Songs of Ascension.” This multidisciplinary work explores the theme of spiritual enlightenment through ascent, from Buddhist practice to Jacob’s Ladder. The 65-minute work involves music, movement, video and spirituality. The performers are Meredith Monk and Vocal Ensemble and the Todd Reynolds String Quartet. (Through Oct. 25.) Wednesday and Thursday at 7:30 p.m., Harvey Theater, Brooklyn Academy of Music, 651 Fulton Street, Fort Greene , (718) 636-4100, bam.org; $20 to $50. (Tommasini)20091015

? IANNIS XENAXIS: PANEL DISCUSSION AND PERFORMANCE (Friday and Saturday) Ordinarily, music lovers who want to expose themselves to the work of a contemporary composer are wise to just jump in and listen. But the music of the Romanian-born Greek composer Iannis Xenakis (1922-2001) may be best appreciated along with some commentary. Therefore the Miller Theater’s intriguing free panel discussion and performance, “Iannis Xenakis: Interdisciplinary Connections,” is a rare opportunity to grapple with the music of a visionary composer whose work was both formidably intellectual and intensely intuitive. Xenakis was also a mathematician, architect and political activist. The panel includes Sharon Kanach, a Xenakis biographer; Mark Wigley, the dean of Columbia University’s School of Architecture; David Lang, the composer; and Lara Pellegrinelli, an arts journalist and scholar. The percussionist Steven Schick will perform a seminal early percussion work by Xenakis. The day after the program the Miller Theater presents a Composers Portrait concert featuring Xenakis’s music, performed by the International Contemporary Ensemble. Panel and performance: Friday at 7 p.m.; Composer Portraits Concert: Saturday at 8 p.m.; Miller Theater at Columbia University, Broadway at 116th Street, Morningside Heights , (212) 854-7799, millertheater.com; Friday, free; Saturday, $7 to $25. (Tommasini)

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Xenakis in New York

Iannis Xenakis
Image via Wikipedia

Two days of Xenakis is coming to the Miller Theatre at Columbia University:

Iannis Xenakis in New York
“Composer Portrait” Concert by International Contemporary Ensemble
Miller Theatre at Columbia University
October 16 & 17, 2009

Presented in conjunction with Iannis Xenakis: Composer, Architect, Visionary
On View at The Drawing Center from January 15 – April 8, 2010

What:

Friday, October 16: Iannis Xenakis: Interdisciplinary Connections
-A consortium of artists and experts will join together for a panel discussion
-Panelists include composer David Lang; musicologist, Xenakis biographer, and exhibition co-curator Sharon Kanach; Mark Wigley, Dean of Columbia’s Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation; and Steven Schick, percussionist and conductor

Saturday, October 17: Concert by International Contemporary Ensemble
-International Contemporary Ensemble will present a “Composer Portrait” of Iannis Xenakis
-Percussion superstar Steven Schick will play and conduct O-Mega, Xenakis’s final composition, together with other musical selections by Xenakis

When:
Friday, October 16, 7:00 PM
Iannis Xenakis: Interdisciplinary Connections
Free Admission

Saturday, October 17, 8:00 PM
“Composer Portrait” concert by International Contemporary Ensemble
Admission: $7 – $25

Where:
Miller Theatre at Columbia University
Located north of the Main Campus Gate at 116th St. & Broadway on the ground floor of Dodge Hall

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

ICE/Xenakis Site and Blog

ICE/Xenakis has launched a new blog and has the following upcoming shows.

Tracing Xenakis
The International Contemporary Ensemble Explores the Work
of a Modern Master via Podcast, Blog and Performance

“…a baptism by noise and fire that awaits every listener” – Steven Schick

Brooklyn, NY– This spring, the International Contemporary Ensemble (ICE) embarks on an exploration of one of the 20th century’s most prodigious creative minds: the maverick composer, architect, and mathematician Iannis Xenakis.

ICE teams up with percussionist Steven Schick for a series of performances of Xenakis’s explosive chamber music in Boston on April 16, at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, and in Chicago on June 4, at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago. In the fall, the Ensemble will bring the show to New York as part of the Composer Portraits Series at Miller Theatre of Columbia University (October 17).

“Despite his undeniable role as a musical giant of the 20th century, performances of Xenakis’ large-scale chamber works are still relatively rare in the US,” says flutist and ICE executive director Claire Chase. “With this project, we have the opportunity to bring this groundbreaking and timeless music to our audiences in Chicago, New York, and Boston. This is music that burns, rocks, grinds, blisters and surges forward with a visceral energy that you don’t normally associate with concert music. It’s a perfect match for Steve Schick, who’s one the most exciting interpreters of our time, and for the boundary-pushing, thrill-seeking young performers of ICE.”

In an effort to ground the experience of this physically charged, other-worldly repertoire for the listener, ICE is also curating a Xenakis-focused blog and podcast.

The Tracing Xenakis podcast, available for download on iTunes or through the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, features musicians of disparate genres, music scholars, aficionados, and Xenakis’ associates. The second podcast, “The Weight of Sound,” is available on April 1 and features ICE saxaphonist and composer David Remnick, Steven Schick, sound artist Francisco López, and Paul A. Miller, better known as DJ Spooky.

The ensemble’s Xenakis-focused blog (www.iceorg.org/xenakis) delves into biographical, academic, inferential, and tangential thoughts around Xenakis’ life and work.

“The goal of the blog,” says curator Whit Bernard, “is to become, like the polytope models Xenakis used to compose, a repository of possible impressions–a space to explore. Over time, a picture of Xenakis will emerge that is particular to our ears, our experience, and our time.” To date, contributors have included precussionist Steven Schick, Whit Bernard, DJ Spooky and writer Marc Geelhoed.

The Concerts

Boston
Thursday, April 16 at 7:00 p.m.
Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, Boston
For tickets: http://www.MuseumTix.com or 617.278.5156

On the program:
Psappha
Akanthos
Palimpsest
Echange

Chicago
Thursday, June 4 at 7:30 p.m.
Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago
For tickets: http://www.mcachicago.org or 312.397.4010

On the program:
Psappha
Echange
Akanthos
Palimspsete
O-Mega

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Monday Evening Concerts: Gérard Grisey’s Acoustic Spaces

From LA’s Monday Evening Concerts:

Monday, February 16, 2009 at 8:00 p.m.
Zipper Concert Hall at the Colburn School
Gérard Grisey’s Acoustic Spaces
Gerard Grisey Tempus ex machina L.A. premiere
Gerard Grisey Les Espaces acoustiques (Part I) L.A. premiere
red fish blue fish, percussion ensemble
Steven Schick, director

Argento Chamber Ensemble
Michel Galante, conductor
Stephanie Griffin, viola

Alicia Lee, clarinet
Brian Walsh, clarinet
Johanna Borenstein, flute
Alison Lowell, oboe
Nick Terry, percussion
Eric Guinivan, percussion
Tereza Stanislav, violin
Les Espaces acoustiques has been described as “awe-inspiring” by Alex Ross of The New Yorker. It is one of the most influential works in postwar European music, in which Grisey’s analysis of sonic phenomena led the way to a new approach to harmony, incorporating the entire range of sound from consonance to noise. The L.A. premiere of Part 1 for 18 players is led by members of the Argento Chamber Ensemble, who thrilled audiences last season. No less monumental is Grisey’s percussion sextet Tempus ex machina, here performed from the balcony of Zipper Hall by red fish blue fish, the world-renowned ensemble founded by Steven Schick.

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]