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Posts tagged 'Ecstatic Music Festival'

Welcome, Marcos Balter, To PSNY!

Marcos Balter seems to be everywhere these days: based in Chicago, in the past year he's composed new works for ICE, Dal Niente, the ACO, yMusic, Nadia Sirota, Ryan Muncy, Claire Chase, and has appeared in venues from New York to Curitiba, Brazil. One could say, without exaggeration, that he's one of the hardest working people in new music, a true collaborator who works with ensembles and perfomers to compose chamber works with his unmistakable voice, which is at once intricately emotional and intrinsically complex. 

In a compositional lineage ranging from Chopin to Sciarrino, Balter's compositions work on numerous levels, engaging listeners with immediate, visceral emotion, but also on a deeper level, with an embedded structure that rewards contemplation and deep listening. One such work is Ignis Fatuus, for solo violin, composed in 2008 for the Holland/America Music Society International Violin Competition. A meditation on timbre, the sonic qualities of the violin, and the paradox of polyphony on a monophonic instrument, this work draws the listener into its sound-world while expanding the boundaries of its own sonic possibilities. 

And yet Ignis Fatuus also uses Paganini's Caprice No. 6 as source material, linking the instrument with the diatonic trace of its inherent history. At once immediately acessable, the deep structure and historicity contained within Balter's work makes it a transcendent experience for both listener and performer. 

Another such work is delete/control/option, for alto flute and cello. Balter's collaborative mode of composition comes to the fore: the piece is as much composed by the performers as the composer, as they physically embody the taxing demands of the written score, which acts not as the "ur-text" of the composition, but rather as tablature for performance. Using the language of computer commands, this work is as much about syntax as it is the transcendance of syntax: the real, affective language that is translated, modified, and encoded by re-presentation.  

Balter's textural language shines in this piece, blending the timbres of alto flute and cello to create an emergent, organic body, re-imagining his compositional voice through the projected voice of the chamber ensemble. This effect is even more present in his work for saxophone quartet, Intercepting a Shivery Light, premiered by the Anubis Saxophone Quartet in 2012. In this work, the quartet is rendered as a single voice, with the appearance of Ligeti-like micropolyphony and timbral transformations. Again, the score acts as tablature for live, embodied performance: these visceral effects emerge from embodiment, again projecting a spectral, single voice into the polyphony of the quartet. And, like in Ignis Fatuus, the piece works on two (or more) levels: the immediate affective response is transformed when the listener learns that the title of the piece is an anagram of Radiohead's "Everything in its Right Place."   

From the colors in Balter's head to the tone-colors of the composition, this piece works on a wordless, affective level, creating a texture in the saxophone quartet approaching that of a modular synthesizer, granular in its machinations of sound. There's no wonder why Balter is such an in-demand composer: his works are an ecstatic embodiment of the possibilities of instruments and their players, written with performance in mind. We're thrilled to make these works available to the public through PSNY, and look forward to more in the future!  

 

Two-Piano Works from Tobias Picker & Timo Andres

Spring is in full swing, and for the past four years that means that the Ecstatic Music Festival is well underway in New York. This year, Timo Andres presents a new song cycle, "Work Songs", to be performed by Gabriel Kahane, Ted Hearne, Becca Stevens, Nathan Koci, & Andres himself. Be sure to check out the concert on March 19th, co-presented by WNYC's New Sounds!

If that doesn't satisfy your Timo fix, we have two more of his works now available from PSNY: his re-composition of Mozart's "Coronation Concerto", which he brilliantly premiered with the Metropolis Ensemble, and his concert-length, two-piano work, Shy and Mighty, which he released as an album on Nonesuch Records. 

Another two-piano work that pianists should not miss is Tobias Picker's Keys to the City, commissioned by the City of New York in commemoration of the 100th Anniversary of the Brooklyn Bridge. Originally a piano concerto, Picker premiered the two-piano version in 1996. This work has been recorded on Chandos and Wergo. Check out an excerpt of the two-piano version here, performed by Picker and Ursula Oppens: 

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