Soundtracks: October 1999

Of the 24 discs featured in our current SoundTracks round-up, only 2 are discs of electronic music: David Doty‘s multicultural microtonal synthesizer landscapes and the unique multi-tracking experiments of Robert Paredes. A third CD, Future Flute — Margaret Lancaster’s recital disc of works by four composers, features works which combine flute with computer electronics. Still, one eighth of the grand total seems peculiar in an issue devoted to new music technology.

In a way, of course, all recordings are electronic music. And in our exploration of music and technology the over-riding objective has been to explore how the great variety of American music can be nurtured by emerging technologies. For example, the technology of recording allows us to experience the intimate vocal recitals of Neva Pilgrim and Sharon Mabry, who performs a recital dedicated exclusively to composers from Tennessee but which can now be heard all over the world. So perhaps the 12.5% is not so peculiar after all.

It is perhaps more shocking to discover that there is now a fourth recording of Morton Feldman‘s Crippled Symmetry, a demanding almost-90 minute chamber music tour-de-force. Perhaps this is evidence that this work will be standard repertoire before too long. Now that there’s finally a recording of Charlemagne Palestine‘s Schlingen-Blängen, a solo organ work of comparable duration released 10 years after it was recorded and 20 years after its composition, perhaps this early minimalist pioneer will get his due. Nonesuch has just issued a new work for string quartet by the most famous of the minimalist revolutionaries, Philip Glass, performed by, who else, the Kronos Quartet. Composed as a soundtrack to accompany the classic 1931 Bela Lugosi film of Dracula, it’s out just in time for Halloween.

Sony has made a firm commitment to the music of Wynton Marsalis issuing a new disc of his music every month this year. We’ve caught up with three of these unprecedented releases: a new interpretation of the Soldier’s Tale (using the same instrumentation as the Stravinsky classic), two ballet scores, and another string quartet. In addition, Marsalis even appears on the Sony compilation Listen to the Storyteller which also features works by Edgar Meyer and Patrick Doyle.

Guy Klucevsek‘s latest disc of solo accordion virtuosity features several of his own works as well as new music for solo accordion by pioneering post-minimalist William Duckworth, Canterbury guitar legend Fred Frith, and the uncategorizable John Zorn. A new orchestral recording devoted to the music of an American composer is always the source of great joy so the new Meyer Kupferman disc is more than welcome. But the behometh among all the releases this month is the New York Philharmonic‘s 10-CD commemorative set of American music. Not out in time for our September Orchestra issue, but we’re thrilled nonetheless. Would that these 10 CDs were the subscription season of any orchestra in America this season!

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