Intersection III

Over the past 15 years, The Barton Workshop has garnered a reputation for their topnotch interpretation of New York School composers. Naturally they are the obvious choice to disseminate Morton Feldman’s mid-period graphic scores, the subject of this latest release in Mode’s ongoing Feldman Edition. Personally, I love the few loud and fast Feldman gems […]

Sonata Rhythmikosmos

When pianist Marc-Andre Hamelin took the stage at the 2001 Grammy Awards ceremony in Los Angeles, I still recall staring at the T.V. in disbelief and then, once I was over the shock of seeing a classical artist playing live at the ceremony, wondered aloud if this would be the industry’s Field of Dreams, “build […]

Symphony No. 8

The American Symphony Orchestra; Leon Botstein, conductor Beginning a symphony with maracas usually implies a Latin tinge. Not so for Roger Sessions’s Eighth Symphony, composed in 1968, which uses maracas as the sole accompaniment for the first utterance of an angular twelve-tone row. The result is one of the most clearly stated openings of a […]

For the Morning of the World

Orchestra 2001; James Freeman, conductorA friend mentioned recently that encountering something small done perfectly is one of the most satisfying experiences. Listening to the molto lento of Gerald Levinson’s For the Morning of the World, I had a similar epiphany. It turns out that the simple melody that snakes through the entire movement is based […]

You Must Be Free

If you hear a raucous clamor of guitars, bass, and drums wafting from your local museum, chances are the New Humans are somewhere inside. Their distinctive brand of alt-rock noise made a splash at the re-opening of the Walker Art Center, raised some minimalist-styled hell at the Swiss Institute – Contemporary Art, and are slated […]

Orchestra Song

Sandwiched in between two of William Schuman’s most potent symphonies is a shocking three-minute waltz from 1963 that is so anachronistic it’s downright revolutionary. Long before Dennis Busch and Milos Raikovich’s new classicism or Stefania De Kennessey’s Derrier Guard, Schuman proved with gusto that in the post-Cage universe where anything goes, new ideas could still […]

Drumming, Part Four

So PercussionDrumming is a piece that audiences never had to learn to like. At its premiere in 1971, after a hypnotically rhythmic performance delivered by a crew of 13 musicians, the audience was on its feet. The work remains a defining pinnacle in Western composition to this day. On this fresh recording of the minimalist […]

The Song of Songs

Chamber Chorus of UC Berkeley with the San Francisco Contemporary Music Players, conducted by Marika Kuzma Do you think music with complex harmonies can never sound happy? Think again! Jorge Liderman’s setting of the Old Testament Song of Songs is exuberant and its exuberance is infectious.—FJO

Variations for Orchestra

Something of a premonition of James Levine’s headline-grabbing tenure at the Boston Symphony, these live recordings with the Munich Phil show off how completely at home he can make musicians feel as they navigate through thorny atonal and serial waters. Carter’s Variations for Orchestra, his first orchestral composition after developing his mature modernist idiom, comes […]


After the one-two punch of his 2003 releases Blood Sutra and In What Language?, Vijay Iyer continues to push his own playing and his collaborators in compelling ways. Recently signed to Savoy Jazz, the label drops the first in a multi-album deal today. Iyer has a fresh set of original tunes on offer here, opening […]

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