Over the years I’ve heard Gene Pritsker’s music both in symphony orchestra halls and clubs. In another era, it would not have fit comfortably in either setting but now it’s at home in both. And yet Pritsker’s chamber opera, William James’s Varieties of Religious Experience, recently released on Composers Concordance Recordings, still manages to sound unsettling to me.
Reading the memoirs of Ernst Krenek while listening to a new boxed set of his five symphonies—recorded over the past two decades by the North German Radio Philharmonic Hanover and released in May by CPO—helps rekindle the Austrian-born American immigrant’s world of strength and beauty, revealing the tumultuous life and searing music of an unjustly overlooked composer.
Taken as a whole, the work included on From Japan may stand as a document to Carl’s multifaceted exploration of the intersection between American and Japanese musical culture. In much broader and perhaps simpler terms, however, it is evidence of how careful a listener Robert Carl is, and how generously he invites us all to listen with him.
Questions of “real” or “fake” are dialectically put aside on the Boston Modern Orchestra Project’s new recording of music by Anthony De Ritis, music in which, in a way, everything is real and fake all at the same time. Or, more precisely: this is music which is constantly, enthusiastically directing your attention to the materials out of which it’s fashioned.
There’s a tension between the natural world songbirdsongs is meant to evoke and the artificial means of the evocation that gives the music an interesting texture. Lovely things happen in every movement of the piece, but in a way that is meant to feel accidental and found, rather than designed and anticipated.
I’ve long been a fan of Sergio Cervetti’s Guitar Music: The Bottom of the Iceberg but having only heard any of his music on compilations led to aesthetic experiences which were ultimately unfulfilling. Each of his compositions created such an evocative sonic universe, so I found it extremely frustrating every time I was jolted into another reality when someone else’s music appeared on a subsequent track. Therefore I was delighted when earlier this year Nazca and Other Works, an entire disc devoted to Cervetti’s music, was released on CD by Navona Records.
The Chicago-based ensemble Third Coast Percussion has released a new CD and separate surround sound DVD on Mode (available either individually or together) of six early percussion works that will perk up the ears (and eyes, if you choose to include the DVD) of anyone even remotely interested in percussion music performance and/or John Cage.