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Inspiring Beethoven

Springboarding off the unmistakable dotted motif that opens Beethoven’s Symphony No. 7, Kevin Puts conflates his own orchestral writing chops with the over the top drama of the classic warhorse. But instead of out Beethovening Beethoven, Puts quickly decides to reigns in the bombastic opening gesture after it completely explodes, transforming the aftermath into an […]

Study in African Jazz 3

Remember The Waltz Project? It was a 1981 record on Nonesuch (in the pre-Bob Hurwitz days) that grew out of a collection of waltzes by 25 contemporary composers published by CF Peters that put Philip Glass and Milton Babbitt on the same program years before there ever was a Bang on a Can Festival. That […]

Orange

Every violist I’ve ever known has lamented the dearth of solo music written for the instrument. Though they’re usually referring to spotlight works with orchestra, Daniel Asia’s Orange, for viola alone, might well be embraced by these same repertoire-seeking musicians. Rather than the showmanship of a concerto, this piece offers the performer the chance to […]

Folías

It’s hard to imagine Roberto Sierra’s new guitar mini-concerto Folias not becoming one of the most popular pieces of new classical music: it’s tuneful, soloistically flashy and has some ethnic exoticism thrown in to boot. Hopefully it will be the piece that makes Roberto Sierra a name known outside circles of contemporary music aficionados. Perhaps […]

Talk Show Host

As a fiercely loyal Radiohead fan, I confess I have long been suspicious of Christopher O’Riley’s transcriptions of the band’s music. Surely it would sound like a lounge pianist working his way through a fake book? I considered the whole thing an affront to my hipster pride and, as usually happens in situations of this […]

One7 [From One13]

The title might look like some sort of algebra problem, but here’s the deal: Cage never finished One13, but evidence suggests that the piece was intended for solo cello with three prerecorded cellos composed entirely of single tones. Furthermore, it seems that each cello would play the same pitches for approximately the same duration, each […]

Parvum Organum

Donald Berman, pianoFor years I’ve been decrying Sony for not re-issuing the only collection of the complete music of Carl Ruggles (a 2-LP set I treasure which features performances by Michael Tilson Thomas and others). But now I find out that set is not complete after all! It turns out that although Ruggles only officially […]

The Yos

So far there haven’t been many successful connections between hip-hop and so-called “new music,” but composer Keith Obadike cites as his heroes both Nam June Paik and James Brown. Check this out: The Sour Thunder, described as an “internet opera” created by Keith and his wife Mendi Lewis Obadike, poet, media artist, and here, rapper. […]

Chanson Orientale

Peter Kairoff, pianoIf “classical” audiences absolutely must have the constant comfort of their Tchaikovsky, Chopin, and Saint-Saens, at the very least we might stir into their diets the sounds of the American composers who employed a similar vocabulary. Largely forgotten, the piano music of George Whitefield Chadwick (1854-1931) isn’t likely to ruffle any programs. His […]