Archive for the ‘Album’ Category


Sean Hickey’s Cursive: another rewarding release on Delos

Delos LogoMichigan born and educated both there and in New York, Hickey divides his time between composition and his demanding “day” job as National Sales and Business Development Director for Naxos records. He has written works for orchestra, including a symphony, large scale concerti, chamber works and compositions for solo instruments and voices. His compositions are decidedly conservative in form and sound thus are approachable and always have something to say.

Following a well received disc featuring concertos for Cello and Clarinet by American composer Sean Hickey, Delos records has released a second disc this time focusing on his piano and chamber music. British pianist Philip Edward Fisher performs in the lion’s share of the works. Julia Sakharova, violin joins Fisher in “Ampersand” while Brandon Patrick George, Anne Lanzilotti, and Meredith Clark, perform “Pied-a-Terre” for Flute, Viola and Harp.

Sean Hickey

Sean Hickey

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Jacob Druckman: Lamia by the Boston Modern Orchestra Project

BMOP-sound-logoThis recording by the Boston Modern Orchestra Project captures several of Jacob Druckman (1928-1996)’s later works. While his Lamia, performed here by soprano Lucy Shelton, headlines the disc, the recording is structured as an all-Druckman concert that succeeds with aplomb. Mixing Druckman’s original works with arrangements of baroque pieces by Cavalli and Charpentier, the performance opens with That Quickening Pulse in its rightful place as a concert-opener. Composed in 1988, it is also a solid introduction to Druckman’s approach to non-electronic composition, which included borrowings and homages to past forms and works while still engaging with tonal centricity and traditional harmonic language. That Quickening Pulse calls for an orchestra with triple winds and, and progresses in a pattern that alternates between tutti passages that propel the work forwards and brief, calm interludes with sparser textures. This performance is precise and crisp, showcasing the variation in timbre required by the work. The forward motion never ceases and the moments of repose and activity are highly coherent, linked together by the ensemble’s energy and focus.


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Modernism Out of Season: Adam Roberts’ “Leaf Metal” on Tzadik

tzadik-logo-transparentDoes the word “modernism” still mean anything? The Uptown-Downtown wars of the Eighties are fast fading into memory. The days when Stravinsky’s disciples were tarred with the brush of reaction might as well be ancient history. A John Adams admits grudging respect for Pierrot Lunaire. And not even the most hardened innovators take the imperatives of “historical necessity” seriously anymore. The experimenters and mavericks used to have the aspect of crusaders, as if they had somehow staked a claim to the high moral ground. But “modernism” circa 2014 doesn’t even rise above the level of fashion, style, mannerism. “It’s all relative,” everyone declares, which is tantamount to saying there’s no philosophical or cognitive justification for complexity. Assuming music is a commodity like any other, whose exchange is governed by the laws of the free market, why bother with gnarly sounds? Who needs the headache? Of course, the new music scene isn’t a free market, even in the U.S., but mere cultural capital is still a paltry reward. In this paradigmless, traditionless musical age, where each piece is a desperate wrestling match with the blank page, an endlessly repeated tabula rasa, it’s a wonder any young composer would still lay claim to the “modernist” mantle.

Adam Roberts (L), Javier Hagen (R) - Photo credit UMS n' JIP

Adam Roberts (L), Javier Hagen (R) – Photo credit UMS n’ JIP

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The Spring 2014 Mixtape is out!

The Spring 2014 Mixtape is out and here is what you’ll hear:

1. Tilman Robinson – Lines; Enlacing (3:26)
2. Michael Kropf – By Ear (2:10)
3. Nick Omiccioli – Push Pull (3:27)
4. Joshua Stamper – O Glowing Hunter, O Lover of Beasts (6:53)
5. The Willo Collective – I’m always the guy going to the motor” he says. (6:39)
6. Hugi Gudmundsson/Nordic Affect – Handelusive – I: Menuet (4:55)
7. Jim Perkins – Foundling (4:55)
8. Evan Williams/Fifth House Ensemble – Grime (8:50)
9. BAUS – How Many People (2:27)
10. Jason Charney – Pratītya (6:54)
11. Rubin Kodheli – Song For A Nightingale (5:07)

Click on the mixtape cover below to directly download it or visit the mixtape page for more details about the artists…



Magellan’s Playlist: On Tour in China with The Athens Guitar Duo

Claudio RecordsMagellan’s Playlist: On Tour in China purports to create a volume of music representing the “sense of geographic unity” that Ferdinando Magellan “gave the world” during the explorer’s Renaissance wanderings. Performers Matthew Anderson and Dusty Woodruff of The Athens Guitar Duo, writing in the liner notes, state that the album’s title “evokes the exotic and adventurous nature of its repertoire.” However, several of the pieces performed here are often less redolent of non-Western musical cultures than they are examples of exoticism, in which historically “foreign” musical motifs are used by composers to create works that fetishize the “other” rather than represent the music of their native places. In addition, the glorification of Magellan as a global unifier is highly problematic; his crew was entirely European, and his travels resulted in the plundering of numerous indigenous cultures. It is also worth mentioning that the album contains few works by composers from the places Magellan actually visited; in light of the composers represented (all of whom, I might add, are men), the concept and title seem to be rather arbitrary.

Athens Guitar Duo

Athens Guitar Duo

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Kate Soper “Voices From the Killing Jar” on Carrier Records

carrier-records-logoKate Soper seems this season to be especially concerned with the rights of fictional women. Her wonderful opera Here Be Sirens (which is scheduled to return to New York’s Dixon Place Theater in the fall) was an inventive and appealing look at the plight of sirens stranded, perhaps eternally, on an island, luring men to their death. Soper’s smart libretto referenced political theory, psychoanalysis and gender studies to inform the three monsters, one inquisitive, one cute and one haunting – quite literally, as their island was littered with books.

Only a few days after the opera’s premiere, Soper’s Voices From the Killing Jar was released on Carrier Records, the label run by electronicist Sam Pluta, her bandmate in the wonderful Wet Ink Ensemble. The set of eight songs – she composed and sings all of them – is another examination into the ways women are portrayed in storytelling, with characters borrowed from sources as diverse as Shakespeare, Flaubert, F. Scott Fitzgerald and Haruki Murakami.

Erin Lesser (L) and Kate Soper (R) - Still from "Only the Words Themselves Mean What They Say (2010-11)"

Erin Lesser (L) and Kate Soper (R) – Still from “Only the Words Themselves Mean What They Say (2010-11)”

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