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Posts tagged 'Wergo'

Anthony Cheung's "Dystemporal" CD Release at National Sawdust

Dystemporal is the title of a new album from WERGO of six premiere recordings of works by Anthony Cheung. 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 Cheung's unique compositional voice. 

On November 11th, the Talea Ensemble celebrates this album with a CD release concert at National Sawdust in Brooklyn. The program features Centripedalocity (for ensemble), one of the highlights of the album, conducted by James Baker, as well as Character Studies, Refrain from Riffing (alto sax and harp), and Roundabouts (solo piano), performed by Cheung himself. Check out Ryan Muncy's recording of Refrain from Riffing below: 

New Releases of Morton Subotnick's Works for "Ghost Electronics"


(photo: Anja Koehler)

Morton Subotnick is undoubtedly a pioneer in the field of contemporary composition, most well known for his work with electronics. His Silver Apples of the Moon was the first composition commissioned and released by a recording company specifically for the medium of the long-playing record, and his influence as a composer, performer, and teacher can be observed in musicians as disparate as Wendy Carlos—his student at NYU—to DIY psych-rockers Silver Apples, to DJs around the world

But Subotnick should be recognized for much more than this landmark album, as important as it was. During the course of the 1970s and 80s, he developed a compositional process which combined the media and information theory of Marshall McLuhan with the expertise of instrument builder Donald Buchla to create works that were at once acoustic and electronic, performed live and "doubled"—in Subotnick's term, "ghosted". 

     
(Subotnick's "Ghost Box" and "Gesture Sketch" on a PROM chip from the 1980s at Library of Congress; photos: Ted Gordon) 

"Sculpting with sound in time and space": this is how Subotnick describes his compositional process for these "ghost pieces," using bodily gestures of touch and voice to create soundless "gesture sketches" of control information. This information is then used to control musical parameters—either on an electronic instrument such as the Buchla system, or Subotnick's custom-made "ghost electronics", which can control amplitude, pitch, and spatialization in real-time. Whether recorded on magnetic tape, digital read-only-memory, or in a contemporary Max/MSP patch, these "gesture sketches" provide a "ghost" for the real-time performer, blurring the lines between score, recording, performance, and improvisation.


(page 1 from "Parallel Lines" (1979); Morton Subotnick) 

Subotnick composed a dozen works using ghost electronics; five years ago, only five of these were available to the public. But through our work at PSNY, we're thrilled to announce that as of today, ten of these twelve works are now available. Our latest addition, Parallel Lines (1979), was presumed to be lost. But through the tireless efforts of our production team, we have reconstructed the full score and parts of this landmark work for solo piccollo, ghost electronics, and an ensemble of nine players.

In addition to this newly-available piece for rental, WERGO releases a CD of landmark recordings on July 8, collecting four "ghost electronics" pieces from the 1980s from Subotnick's staged tone-poem, "The Double Life of Amphibians". Extending metaphors of doubleness and medium-specificity to organic life, Subotnick tracks life in water, emerging onto land, and finally escaping into air. Three of the four works that comprise this large-scale piece—Axolotl, Ascent into Air, The Last Dream of the Beast, and A Fluttering of Wings—in addition to Passages of the Beast, an adaptation from The Last Dream of the Beast for solo clarinet and ghost electronics. 

Anthony Cheung's "Dystemporal" Now Available from Wergo

Wergo, the iconic new music recording label, has released a new album of six premiere recordings of works by Anthony Cheung. 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 Cheung's unique compositional voice. 

The earliest work on this album also is scored for the smallest ensemble; Windswept Cypresses, for flute, viola, harp, and percussion, was written in a period of ten days when Cheung was only 23 years old. Enjamb, Infuse, Implode, available on PSNY, is scored for six players and describes the actions taken by several dimensions of this work—melody, harmony, and phrasing. Centripedalocity, along with Running the (Full) Gamut), were both composed in 2008, and show Cheung's connection to post-Bop jazz, enjambing melodic lines remeniscent of Thelonious Monk with elegant writing for microtonal harp.  


(excerpt from "Enjamb, Infuse, Implode") 

The two larger ensemble works on this recording, SynchroniCities and Dystemporal, are more recent works, both performed by the ensembles who commissioned them. SynchroniCities, commissioned and performed by the Talea Ensemble under James Baker, sees Cheung's multivalent compositional style explore the concept of space—Cheung calls it a "personal sonic travelogue". And Dystemporal, commissioned and performed by Ensemble Intercontemporain, conducted by Susanna Mälkki, explores that other major dimension: time. Smooth and striated, time in this work becomes a spiral, a groove, a canon; the final movement stunningly imagines an orchestration of Henry Cowell's "Rhythmicon", which Cheung describes as "a machine designed by Léon Theremin to re-create Cowell’s theories about the unification of overtone and rhythmic ratios, a true rhythmic and harmonic 'consonance' resolving the overall arrhythmic dissonance that permeates the piece."

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