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American Midlife

Tasha Dzubay, clarinet Slovak Radio Symphony Orchestra conducted by Kirk Trevor In his somewhat confessional notes for his 2004 clarinet concerto, American Midlife, Indiana School of Music-based composer David Dzubay says that he wrote this music “during the year I turned forty while trying to save a failed marriage.” Innova’s new recording of it features […]

Chaconne

A tribute album is a convention much more common in the pop world, but it is one warmly taken up here in gratitude to Andrew Imbrie on the occasion of his 80th birthday. The disc features a mix of works—some penned by Imbrie, others in his honor. John Harbison’s Chaconne for piano and four instruments […]

String Quartet No. 3

Cold shower? A cup of joe? Maybe a slap in the face? Nothing is more effective than the opening of Elliott Carter’s third string quartet—guaranteed to wake you up faster than smelling salts. The Arditti Quartet manages to capture every bit of potential energy contained in Carter’s score—feel the wallop! Of course Carter is no […]

Prelude to Surrender

Though having forsaken the Boston jazz scene for Rome last year, Greg Burk teams up with the one-two punch of Steve Swallow (bass) and Bob Moses (drums) for his first release on Chicago-based indie label 482 Music. Without in any way ignoring the strengths of the trio, the disc’s second track leaves Burk alone at […]

Seven Haiku

In the never ending avalanche of John Cage CDs on Mode comes the 6th volume of the composer’s piano works. The disc’s centerpiece, Music of Changes, is preceded by the economical Seven Haiku, which clocks-in just under two minutes. Although not intentional—we’re talking Cage after all—the side-by-side pairing lends the Haikus a sort of Cliff’s […]

Blue Calx

Performed by Alarm Will Sound It seems like a composition assignment from that really cool young prof. who’s intent on shaking up the department: Take an Aphex Twin track (which is to say one created by electronic-pioneer Richard James) and translate it into the acoustic. The project is actually not all that unprecedented (Philip Glass […]

Bass Trombone Concerto

How much new music, or any music for that matter, can you think of that is scored for bass trombone and piano? Not even Hindemith wrote a sonata for the combo! But, now, thanks to bass trombonist Charles Vernon and pianist Eric Ewazen, there’s a whole disc of this stuff out there. The disc features […]

Copper Harbor 3am

This haunting track by Chicago-based Joshua Abrams evokes a tactile dreamland where giant church steeple carillons melt into millions of discombobulated music boxes which continue to chime the passage of time. In this strange darkened landscape of infinite fireworks displays, tiny digital purrs saturate the air, stirring the gossamer aura of this tranquil nightmare. Abrams […]

Violin Concerto No. 2

It’s hardly shocking that New York music critics, the self-proclaimed arbiters of musical taste, panned the premiere of Paul Creston’s brilliant 1960 Second Violin Concerto at its New York premiere in 1962. They usually never get it right about new music. I imagine it must have shined in the hands of legendary violin prodigy Michael […]

No Masterpiece

Visit Mason Bates’s website and you’re faced with a choice right off the bat: electronica or classical. I imagine this decision is a cinch for some, but what if classical is your cup of tea just as much as electronica is your shot of vodka and Red Bull? Looks like your mouse is going to […]