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Posts tagged 'Lei Liang'

PSNY Recent Recordings: Part II

We're continuing our celebration of recent recordings by PSNY composers this week, and that celebration begins with a landmark album for Anthony CheungDystemporal, a portrait CD released on Wergo in 2016. Containing six premiere recordings of works Cheung, Dystemporal is performed by the Talea Ensemble, which Cheung co-directs alongside percussionist Alex Lipowski, and Ensemble Intercontemporain. These works represent a formative period in Cheung's career, and this new recording presents a landmark document of his unique compositional voice. They include: SynchroniCities (2012) for 8 musicians with electronics; Windswept Cypresses (2005) for flute, viola, harp, percussion; Running the (Full) Gamut (2008) for piano; Centripedalocity (2008) for 7 musicians; Enjamb, Infuse, Implode (2006) for 6 musicians; and Dystemporal (2012) for 23 musicians.

Another PSNY composer also saw a major portrait CD released in 2016: Lei Liang, whose Luminous, released on New World Records, documents five recent compositions that explore his long-standing research into traditional Asian arts and music, and their incorporation into a contemporary music aesthetic. These works, performed by musicians and ensembles including Steven Schick, Daniel Schlosberg, Aleck Karis, Third Coast Percussion, the Formosa Quartet, and the Palimpsest Ensemble, include: Verge Quartet (2013) for string quartet; Trans (2013) for solo percussion; The moon is following us (2015) for solo piano; Inkscape (2014) for percussion ensemble and piano; and Luminous (2014) contrabass solo and ensemble. Check out a performance of Luminous below.

With the Mivos Quartet, Kate Soper recorded her work 2015 work Nadja, a three-song cycle sets texts by Alfred, Lord Tennyson, Ovid, and André Breton that incorporates the composer's own voice into the quartet. Released on New Focus Recordings, Nadja is accompanied by works by Taylor Brook and Andrew Greenwald to complete Mivos's album, titled The Garden of Diverging Paths. Check out Soper and Mivos performing the work in 2015 below. 

Narrowing from large ensemble pieces to solo works, we're thrilled to feature percussionist Ian David Rosenbaum's solo album, Memory Palace, released on VisionIntoArt Records, the in-house label of Brooklyn venue National Sawdust. Memory Palace contains recordings of the eponymous 2012 work by Christopher Cerrone, as well as Timo Andres'Crashing Through Fences, which Rosenbaum originally commissioned and premiered in 2010. Check out a performance of Memory Palace at EMPAC below: 

Lei Liang Portrait Concert at Miller Theatre


(Lei Liang, photo: Howard Lipin)

On November 17th, Miller Theatre at Columbia University will present a Portrait Concert of composer Lei Liang. With performances by the JACK Quartet, loadbang, bassist Mark Dresser and with Steven Schick conducting, this concert will feature the New York premiere of Liang's concerto for double bass and ensemble Luminous (2014), as well as the World Premiere of Lakescape V, a new work commissioned by Miller Theatre and dedicated to loadbang. 

(Excerpt from Luminous, performed by Mark Dresser, San Francisco Contemporary Music Players, Steven Shick, conductor)

Liang's work is often influenced by traditional Chinese music—from Opera, to Mongolian throat singing, to instruments such as the guqin, an ancient zither—and brings these influences to bear on decidedly idiosyncratic, flexible concepts such as "one note polyphony", shadows, breathing, and transformation. As Paul Griffiths writes, "he breaths, so to say, from both of his lungs." The concert program features works from throughout Liang's career that illustrate and sonify these conceps, including Ascension, for brass quintet and percussion, and Serashi Fragments, for string quartet, along with Luminous and Lakescape V

                
(pages from Lei Liang's Luminous)

The Lakescape series encapsulates many of Liang's diverse interests. At a Mahayana Buddhist monastery in upstate New York, Liang observed a beaver swimming through a lake's placid surface; this led him to realize, in his words, that "underneath the music I write is a profoundly deep silence upon which I seek to inscribe my signature through sound."

In anticipation of the portrait concert, check out a video from the world premiere of Liang's recent string quartet Song Recollections, performed by the Formosa Quartet: 

Contemporary Piano Video Library features Lei Liang's "Garden Eight"

Lei Liang's Garden Eight, for solo piano, has recently been featured as part of pianist Ricardo Descalzo's Contemporary Piano Video Library, a project that spotlights contemporary piano repertoire with video recorded performances and commentary. In his feature on Garden Eight, Descalzo writes, 

This is a collection of eight short pieces that are not intended to evolve from one to another. Rather, they are like different views of the same landscape. [Quoting Liang:] ”These pieces are musical gardens. To perform one of them is to walk through a garden of sounds… ”

Liang composed his Garden Eight, originally for any solo instrument, using only six pitches and six relative durations (and dedicated to a friend whom Liang had seen six times before composing the work). The work is part of Liang's larger "Garden" series (including Garden Six for saxophone sextet, and Garden Nine for singers, piano and rocks), which serves as a tribute to the Ming Dynasty Yuen Yeh (the earliest and most exquisite Chinese horticultural treatise). Liang writes that "gardens, in this discourse, are not treated as a confined enclosure, but as an extended environment. A Chinese garden is a visual world as well as a world of other senses."


(Garden Six, performed by New England Conservatory Saxophone Ensemble)

Descalzo's performance and video documentary delicately captures this essential quality in Garden Eight. Check out the film, above, and visit Descalzo's Contemporary Piano Video Library for more video performances and commentary, including a feature on Karen Tanaka's Crystalline II.

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