Sunday, June 24, 2007

Cleveland area composer Lewis Nielson gets ink

The Cleveland Plain Dealer runs a profile of Oberlin prof and composer Lewis Nielson. I was a little surprised the article makes no attempt to describe Nielson's music or list his influences. There is also no discography in the article, and I couldn't find any of his work when I searched Emusic. (After much Googling around, I did finally find a Craig Hultgren album on Emusic, that has one of Nielson's pieces, "Valentine Mechanique.") The official faculty site does list some recordings, although Nielson doesn't list the record labels or explain how to acquire them. There are also no sound samples, although Nielson carefully lists his awards. Hey dude, post some streaming music so we can hear it.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Down under Duckworth's new Web site

American composer William Duckworth, bundled up against the Australian summer cold but on fire with new ideas as usual, has arrived in Australia for his "public opera" performance of iOrpheus, scheduled for August 31 in Brisbane. It's the latest version of the opera he wrote with Nora Farrell. Details on the new web site. Online participation is supposed to be available for those who us who can't make it to Australia, but details have not been announced yet. Copies of iOrpheus (MP3 files and video files) may be downloaded from Cathedral, the main Duckworth-Farrell Internet site.

Monday, June 18, 2007

The modern Prokofiev

Lately, I've been kind of obsessed with the music of Sergei Prokofiev, and I've been trying to explore his more modernist side.

A few weeks ago, I posted thusly at the message board of "I noticed reading one of the interviews on this site that many Prokofiev fanatics like the Second Symphony, and I also noticed that 'Rough Guide to Classical Music' referred to the "extreme dissonance" of the second. That sounded promising, so I downloaded a copy from Emusic (the Naxos one, with Theodore Kuchar conducting) and I loved it! I like a lot of the same stuff everyone else likes, such as 'Lt. Kije' and the third piano concerto, but can anyone suggest some other Prokofiev works that are 'modern' or 'out there'?

I got several responses, the most useful from a fellow who posts as morgold and signed his note "Andrew."

He wrote, "I'd say Prokofiev's most modernist works are: (in no particular order)

"Symphony #3; The Fiery Angel; The Gambler; Pas D'Acier; Seven, They Are Seven; Five Sarcasms, for piano; Scythian Suite; Tocatta, op. 11; The Buffoon, op. 21

"Prokofiev also has a number of 'moderately' modernist works, though not quite on the same level as the 2nd or 3rd Symphonies. These would include:

"Quintet, op. 39; Symphonic Song, op. 57; Piano Concertos #2 and #5; The Love for 3 Oranges (the complete opera, not the symphonic suite); Piano Sonatas #6 and #7; Symphony #6; Visions Fugitives, for piano.

"You may also like the Cantata for the 20th Anniversary of the October Revolution; though it is not dissonant like the 2nd Symphony, it is the loudest piece of music Prokofiev ever wrote. If you're interested in modern (though not strictly "modernist") music, you should also check out the opera Semyon Kotko (with Gergiev conducting) and the very dark First Violin Sonata, op. 80."

I've been using his handy list as a downloading guide.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Gramley's reissued 'Deconstruction'

My copy of percussionist Joseph Gramley's "American Deconstruction" CD arrived over the weekend, and I got a chance to listen to it a couple of times. I bought it to obtain a recording of a William Duckworth piece, "Meditation Preludes." It's the longest selection on the album, clocking in at 11:05, but I discovered the whole album is rather good. The CD, reissued a few months ago, has five pieces, all by modern American composers. It's a really varied set -- the Duckworth is subtle and quiet (as befits the title, I guess), "The Anvil Chorus" by David Lang is rather noisier, and there's a fascinating piece by Steve Reich, "Nagoya Marimbas." There are also pieces by Paul Smadbeck and Dave Hollinden, composers previously unknown to me. The album held my interest throughout.
The album is not available on Amazon. The only way I know to buy it is through Gramley's web site.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Cleveland jazz history remembered

This afternoon, my wife and I went to a program at the East Cleveland Public Library devoted to the jazz photography of Frank Kuchirchuk, a retired photographer at the Ohio Veterans Home in Sandusky who took many photographs of jazz greats during the early 1950s in Cleveland. Cleveland jazz historian Joe Mosbrook provided much of the commentary as Kuchirchuk's photographs were displayed on a screen. I was pleased the event drew a big turnout, as I had helped library director Greg Reese get together with Kuchirchuk. The Plain Dealer helped with a nice advance on the show.