Bang On A Can’s Cantaloupe Music: David Lang

February 2001 marked the debut releases of two Cantaloupe CDs, which are currently available on the Cantaloupe website. The first is Renegade Heaven, featuring the Bang On A Can All-Stars in compositions written for them by Glenn Branca, Arnold Dreyblatt, Michael Gordon, Phil Kline, and Julia Wolfe. harmonia mundi will release Renegade Heaven into stores on March 13, 2001. The pieces are united by an edgy spirituality: Wolfe’s Believing, Branca’s Movement Within, Dreyblatt’s Escalator, Gordon’s I Buried Paul and Kline’s Exquisite Corpses deal with faith, ascension, death and the afterlife.

Also available is The Passing Measures, composer David Lang’s newest work, performed by bass clarinetist Marty Ehrlich with members of the orchestra and chorus of the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra. This CD will hit the shelves on April 10, 2001.

Passing Measures was a joint commission by the Birmingham Contemporary Music Group and the presenter Birmingham Jazz. The recording was made from a live performance. Lang calls the piece “an absolute reduction of what both [Birmingham and Ehrlich] can do. “Having originally come to him wanting a piece for a jazz soloist in a classical context, Lang feared that the language of either classical music or jazz, when imported into another context, “would be misinterpreted.”

Lang describes the piece as “hugely mathematical.” It took him eight months to work out the numbers. The extremely slow tempo hides somewhat the fact that the meter changes every measure. Halfway through the 42-minute piece, the notes change, and the first dissonance is introduced. Two-thirds of the way through, the pace quickens. “If you can lower your blood pressure enough, it sounds like a Beethoven scherzo,” Lang quipped.

“Meditation is the wrong word, but a large part of this music exists to teach you to listen to the rest of the music. It takes a long time for the body and the ear to learn,” the composer explained. Lang wanted to write a piece that was “not obvious on the surface, not manipulative. I didn’t want there to be moments when everyone laughs, everyone gasps. I wanted to write something with slow power and incredible scope.”

Cantaloupe will release virtuoso clarinetist-composer Evan Ziporyn’s first all-solo record, This is Not a Clarinet, in March 2001. The CD will be available in stores in June. Ziporyn reinvents the clarinet using traces of Balinese gamelan, African drumming, Croatian singing, and James Brown; the instrument masquerades as everything from an electric guitar to a didgeridoo to a djembe to an airplane landing.