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Posts tagged 'Scott Wollschleger'

Scott Wollschleger's "American Dream"

What is an American dream? Blue skies, the open road, a sense of freedom, optimism for the future? Those are the objects of desire in so many American narratives; but in a dream, the valence of those objects, their interrelation, is radically called into question. Indeed, we might ask: what is an American dream—what is the American dream—in 2019? What can it tell us about ourselves? What makes a dream different from reality? Or: how are the two alike?

Scott Wollschleger's  forthcoming album on Canteloupe Music, American Dream, is a recording of that eponymous work along with two related pieces, performed by Bearthoven (Karl Larson, piano; Pat Swoboda, double bass; Matt Evans, percussion). Wollschleger began composing the piece in the winter of 2017, responding directly to the political upheavals of the previous November; he felt, he says, like he was suddenly and violently removed from the bubble in which he was living. Responding to that adjustment, he turned to abstraction: pitch pipes became the goofy, campy, cheap representation of national politics; in his studio, Wollschleger explored the piano, bass and a variety of percussion instruments to notate the feelings of political abjection, expressed in cinematic, short sections, each flashing like a semi-conscious aural dream.

Part of the affective power of American Dream is that its affect is radically undefined: is it mournful? Hopeful? What do its repetitions mean? What does it mean to be embraced by a strange new world of pitch and timbre, only for it to immediately evaporate and re-appear in slightly altered form? 

American Dream is book-ended by Gas Station Canon Song and We See Things That Are Not There, two works that emerged from the compositional material of American Dream. In this sense, this is at once a work and a kind of "concept album:" the album art, beautifully created by photographer Jamie Boddorf and designer Mariah Tarvainen, evokes the blues and oranges of the American Dream, the horizon that signals both beginning and end. 

As Wollschleger's frequent collaborator Anne Leilehua Lanzilotti writes, 

Is it a love song? A mis-remembered nostalgic anthem? A quiet, hopeful fanfare? A frightened obsessive meandering? In allowing ourselves to be truly vulnerable we can connect with each other, even if only for a moment. Or perhaps we see things that are not there.

American Dream will be released on February 8th, and will be celebrated with an album release performance at the Tenri Cultural Institute in New York. Preview the first movement of this work below:

PSNY Recent Recordings: Part III

We're back with another post featuring recent recordings of works by PSNY composers. This round begins with Mario Diaz de Leon's  Sanctuary, a 2017 album performed by the TAK Ensemble, which contains a unified, album-length piece created in collaboration with the performers. Sanctuary continues Diaz de Leon's exploration of intensities—of timbre, including the extensive use of electronics alongside acoustic instruments and the human voice; of rhythm, contrasting the bubbling arpeggios of electronic instruments to the cycles of breath and bow; and of the expressive possibilities of melody, carefully interwoven between instruments and voices. As Seth Colter Walls wrote in the New York Times, "The edgy electronic timbres can serve a range of compositional functions: contrasting dramatically with the purity of a soprano’s sound, in one moment, before finding, in the bass clarinet, a partner in grain." Check out "Sanctuary" below. 

In 2017, Alex Mincek also released a major album that collects recordings of several recent works, entitled Torrent. Released by Sound AmericanTorrent includes recordings of several works performed by members of the Wet Ink Large Ensemble, Yarn/Wire, and the Mivos Quartet. These works were all composed in the past seven years, and include Pendulum VII, which is available from PSNY. Check out an excerpt below: 

Katharina Rosenberger also released a major album in 2017, Shift, performed by memebrs of Los Angeles's wasteLAnd and Rage Trombones (Matt Barbier & Weston Olencki). Released on famed expeirmental label HatHut records, Shift explores spatialization, long-form improvisation, and modularity, and was immaculately recorded by Tom Erbe at the University of California, San Diego. Check out an excerpt below.  

Scott Wollschleger's Soft Aberration, a major release on New Focus Records, collects beautiful performances of many of the composer's works, perfomed by soprano Corrine Byrne, trumpeter Andy Kozar, violist Anne Lanzilotti, cellist John Popham, pianist Karl Larson, Mivos Quartet, and Longleash trio. Check out an in-depth review at I Care If You Listen, which praises Wollschleger's works such as Soft Aberration, Brontal Symmetry, Bring Something Incomprehensible Into This World!, America, and String Quarter No. 2 "White Wall."

And finally on this roundup of dedicated composer portrait albums, we're pleased to feature The Music of Fred Lerdahl, Volume 5, released on Bridge Records. The four performances on this album present works from Lerdahl's long career, including Episodes & Refrains (1982), Quiet Music (1994 arr. 2001), Times 3 (2012), and Time and Again (2014). Check out an excerpt of Quiet Music below.

PSNY Composers in Alex Ross' 2017 Top Ten Lists

As the year ends, critics are busy preparing their annual accountings of the very best music of 2017. Alex Ross, the classical music critic of The New Yorker, has deftly diversified his year-end top ten lists, counting his favorite notable performances and recordings from the year. At the top of these lists is Kate Soper'sIpsa Dixit, performed at Dixon Place on February 4th. Ross describes Soper as "one of the great originals of her generation—a maker of erudite entertainments that inhabit a self-invented realm halfway between opera and philosophy."

Next on Ross' list is Chaya Czernowin's opera, Infinite Now, which premiered on April 23rd at the Flemish Opera. Check out an interview with Czernowin about this work below. 

Annie Gosfield's new adaptation of War of the Worlds, presented by the Los Angeles Philharmonic and narrated by Sigourney Weaver, also made it to Ross' list of notable performances. Check back soon for the full score of Gosfield's War of the Worlds on PSNY. 

Ross has been a vocal proponent of the music of Scott Wollschleger, so it is no surprise that Wollschleger's recent album on New Focus Recordings, "Soft Aberration", made it to his top ten records of 2017. That album features many of Wollschleger's recent works, including Brontal Symmetry, Soft Aberration, Bring Something Incomprehensible Into This World, and String Quartet No. 2 "White Wall". Check out Brontal Symmetry below.

Last but not least on Ross' list of notable recordings is Gregory Spears'  "Fellow Travelers", the very first recording produced and performed by the Cincinnati Opera. Three pieces from this opera—"I worry, that's all"; "Last Night"; and "Our Very Own Home"—are available from PSNY. See a concert performance of this last piece below.

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