09 January 2010

Carter, Partch, Feldman, Henning

With Dave MacNeil’s snarky comment (referred to here) in mind, one of the first compact discs I’ve bought this year is Bridge 9184, Vol. VII of the Music of Elliott Carter:

[ click for larger image ]

Dialogues I heard first in the Naxos recording (one with a companion DVD); and the Boston Concerto I heard, well, here in Boston. Still, more than half an hour of the music on this disc is new to me; and I am well content to have (1) a recording of the Boston Concerto, and (2) another recording of the Dialogues.

Back in the day, when I was earning (well, I shall hope that I was earning) my Master’s at UVa, one of my teaching assistantship assignments was to Professor Milos Velimirovich, as he taught a music history survey for non-music majors. I don’t remember actually hearing any of it (and I should guess that he played just a brief excerpt), but I remember that one of the pieces he demo'd in class when he got to Modern Times, was Barstow by Harry Partch.

Not to make a dog-&-pony show of it, but another new music intro for my new year is a disc of four pieces, beginning with Barstow:

[ click for larger image ]

What I was expecting, given Partch’s hands-on construction of exotic instruments and his energetic pursuit of microtonal scales, was one matter. And I probably wish that I had tried a disc of purely instrumental music. My initial listen (subject to revisitation, of course) was dominated by impressions of the vocal delivery, a distressingly flat (and therefore contrary to my expectations) hectoring-hippie sort of declamation; didn’t help that each piece is introduced by a click-slate delivery of the title. I find myself wishing he’d shut up and play his guitar.

For me the greatest success so far (of the listen to new things the first week of the year game) has been Morton Feldman’s Crippled Symmetry:

[ click for larger image ]

I love this piece in much the same way, and for much the same reasons, as I do Why Patterns?, only even more so.

A friend in a brass quintet is having his quintet start to read Moonrise (though, for want of flugelhorns, they are using cornets), and it sounds as if they may be coming to like the piece.

No comments: