Author Archives: Matthew Guerrieri

Sounds Heard: Christian Wolff—Pianist: Pieces

wolff thomas cover

In Wolff’s music, one might say that the implied history of each piece, the fact of its composition, its notation, its interpretation and performance, is elevated to the point where it is not just present, but it is, in fact, how the piece is experienced. Every sound is a reminder of its own origin.

Style Points

Assorted spices on wooden background

Looking around, listening around, culture is as stylistically non-hegemonic as I’ve ever experienced. But parallel to that is a kind of greater semiotic compartmentalization: the vast majority of cultural artifacts I encounter keenly announce their stylistic allegiance early and often.

Boston: SICPP’s Love and Geometry

A cynocephalus, from the Nuremberg Chronicle (1493).

On paper, the June 17 concert presented by the Summer Institute for Contemporary Performance Practice, part of the institute’s annual week of new music training, festivities, and shenanigans, made some piece-to-piece local connections but seemed more miscellaneous on a global scale. In performance, though, a theme kept peeking around the edges.

Boston: Bromp Treb Busts the Matrix

Bromp Treb (Neil Young Cloaca) at Café Fixe, June 10, 2014. Photo by Susanna Bolle.

Neil Young Cloaca is an irrepressible showman. Bromp Treb is an opportunity for him to apply that carnival-barker enthusiasm to a table full of mismatched gear. Cloaca circled the table, triggering highly distorted samples while playing up theatrical befuddlement, as if he was trying to decipher a recalcitrant machine—or defuse an eccentric bomb.

Boston: Caroline Shaw’s Common Cause

"Your Second or Permanent Teeth" (anatomical diagram)

It is a remarkably elevated art that is so incapable of settling down, constantly inspiring its practitioners to use the output of one set of rules as the input for a completely different set of rules. Musical style is a moving target. It certainly must be.

Sounds Heard: Meredith Monk—Piano Songs

Meredith Monk: Piano Songs album cover

Meredith Monk: Piano Songs, a new compilation performed by Ursula Oppens and Bruce Brubaker, features music that finds expressive possibilities in the act of moderating between extremes. Old and new, traditional and experimental, memory and transformation–within all those competing forces, Monk’s music seems to hover at a point of balance.