One of the more endearingly paradoxical indications of compositional success is that interest gets piqued in music that even the composer had largely forgotten about. Unpublished works, unfinished works, juvenilia—when even that becomes fair game, you know you’ve (posthumously, usually) made it. The latest recordings from Florestan Recital Project pay that tribute to Samuel Barber (1910-1981).
Noah Creshevsky’s expansive 2012 sample-based composition The Four Seasons, which forms the basis of his latest CD release on Tzadik, is hardly without precedent. For starters, there’s Vivaldi, but also Haydn, Fanny Mendelssohn, Glazunov, John Cage, Wendy Carlos, Chen Yi, etc. However, it is one of the most meticulously crafted renderings of this much-traversed concept and is arguably the most elaborate of all of his musical creations thus far.
There is something invigorating about the diversity of Henry Brant’s career. But there is one corner of his catalog that doesn’t get mentioned much: his music for children. In the late 1940s and early 1950s, Brant wrote three original scores for records produced by Young People’s Records and its successor, the Children’s Record Guild—some of the hippest children’s records ever made.
Dissolving Images is a great introduction to Mark Gustavson’s compositional aesthetic, one which seamlessly blends heady structural rigor with emotional intensity and humor. Although each of these five pieces—two solos and three chamber works—is strictly notated, some of the material hints at the musical vocabulary of improvisatory traditions ranging from early jazz to Middle Eastern maqam and other non-Western idioms.
It’s refreshing to hear the bassoon edging it’s way towards the sonic foreground in contemporary music. Anyone with doubts about how cool the instrument can be has not yet heard bassoonist Rebekah Heller perform; in her hands, the oft-underappreciated instrument is transformed into a fierce creature that cannot be ignored onstage.