Soundtracks: October 2000

Unlike the impending Presidential election, there are tons of musical choices in SoundTracks this month ranging from new recordings of acknowledged American musical masterpieces to rediscoveries of overlooked musical treasures to works from newly-emerging composers never before on CD.

In the orchestral music department, there is a new recording of Charles Ives’ Symphony No. 2, which is the first-ever recording of a new critical edition prepared for the Ives Society, and a collection of recent orchestral works by Michigan-based composer Will Gay Bottje. And, the music of Steven Gerber is the focus of not one, but two, new recordings devoted to his concertos and other orchestral works.

There are a wide variety of new chamber music recordings including discs featuring recent works by Andrea Cavallari, Donald Erb, Binnette Lipper, P. Q. Phan, Yehudi Wyner, a collection of flute and piano music by women composers, a collection of solo and chamber works by ten different composers with cultural roots in Latin America. However, nothing is properly more imposing this month than yet another recording of Morton Feldman’s massive 4 hour For Philip Guston for flute, piano and percussion, now appearing in its 4th complete CD recording. It boggles the senses!

The guitar surfaces in a variety of guises this month. One disc is devoted to solo guitar works composer and performed by Christopher Berg, another presents both solo and chamber guitar works by George Rochberg, and all three jazz titles we received this month prominently feature guitarists: Donny McCaslin‘s quartet features Ben Monder; Todd Sickafoose‘s quintet features Justin Morell; and Bill Frisell shows up as a special guest on a new recording by the trio Livingdaylights.

There are two new collections of solo piano music this month, one devoted to recent works by six different composers, the other devoted to an unusual pairing of music by John Cage and Philip Glass, cleverly titled Glass Cage. New approaches to electroacoustic sound surface in new CDs from David Dvorin, John Schott, and Paul Koonce. A new disc devoted to the music of Matthew Davidson features solo, chamber and electronic works.

In the rediscoveries department, the new Paula Cooper Gallery-run label Dog Without a Bone (who issued this month’s Feldman Olympiad) have issued a three-and-a-half hour excerpt of Petr Kotik’s massive 1978 Gertrude Stein setting Many, Many Women, proving themselves unafraid of the task of issuing works of extended durations. The other, very timely rediscovery is Leonard Bernstein’s White House Cantata, a recasting of material originally written for his final Broadway musical 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue which he wrote with Alan Jay Lerner in 1976. I would also include a new retrospective disc devoted to music by Elodie Lauten in this category as well because her revolutionary music is still too frequently overlooked when there are assessments made of American music of the past three decades.

by Frank J. Oteri