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Reviews in Miniature Part 2

August 13, 2010
This is going to undoubtedly become a semi-regular feature for a while.  Truth be told, I have about 30 albums I’m really excited to talk about that have been released since Mid-May and I’ve barely mentioned any of them.  Admitting defeat or realistically accomplishing my goal?  You decide….

Every Thing Must Go is Martin Bresnick’s latest album with a large cast of performers (Lisa Moore, Abigail Nims, Wei-yi Yang, the Yale Camerata conducted by Marguerite Brooks and the Prism Sax Quartet).  Lots of delicate harmonies with some really great shimmering timbres.  I really love the solo piano work seems like it was written for Moore (Willie’s Way) that opens the album.  Think Lisa Moore’s performance on Rzewski’s “Which Side Are You On?” but a little bluesier and tuneful. The rest of the disc makes me want a little more grit until the final tracks, which happens to share its name with the album title and performed by Prism.  The playing on these tracks are other worldly and the piece has a special energy to it.

John Cage: Etudes Boreales/Harmonies/10’40.3″ is awesome.  I’ve talked many times about how I love John Cage in this space, and this album has only furthered that feeling.  For one, I really love the selections that Mark Knoop (Piano) and Friedrich Gauwerky (Cello) put on the album, and their sequence on the disc is perfect.  There are a lot of Cage albums that seem more like historical documents than musical experiences, which is an easy trap to fall in to, but that’s still not a great excuse.  Sprinkled throughout the disc are a few of Cage’s Harmonies which are some gorgeous little pieces, to my ears, are about the frequent silences with consonant harmonies separating them.  The nuance in how each silence is arrived at differently is really fascinating and demands virtuosity.  Between these are two performances of Etudes Boreales and an excerpt of 26’1.1499″ which is retitled down to the 10’40.3″ we hear.  The Etudes are some of the more difficult Cage works to grasp, composed using star charts and chance operations.  The best part about the piece is some of Cage’s thoughts on it:

these are intentionally as difficult as I can make them because I think we’re now surrounded by very serious problems in the society, and we tend to think that the situation is hopeless and that it’s just impossible to do something that will make everything turn out properly. So I think that this music, which is almost impossible, gives an instance of the practicality of the impossible.

That’s why I called this album awesome.  10’40.3″ is one of those works by Cage that is delightful because of its unpredictability.  One must pack a sense of adventure when listening to it in order to really appreciate all of the curve balls thrown.

More coming early next week!


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