American Masters for the 21st Century
American Masters for the 21st Century
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Say you start a group called the Society for New Music, commission composer-stars-in-the-making and do it for thirty years straight, you might expect your scrapbooks to be quite interesting. What you might not realize is that your efforts now constitute a major segment of the backbone of contemporary American concert music and you have premiered a boatload of chamber works by composers who have gone on to distinguished careers. Such is the case with Syracuse’s Society for New Music founded by Neva Pilgrim, who opened their treasure chest of commissioned works from 1972 – 2002 and has put them together as the 5-CD set entitled “American Masters for the 21st Century.”
Although this is a retrospective collection, the names included show the enduring nature and current relevance of the top-quality work. The most common words in the composers’ bios are “Pulitzer,” “Guggenheim,” and “Koussevitsky.” East Coast zip codes are well represented. Some artists include Christopher Rouse, Steven Stucky, Augusta Read Thomas, Daniel Godfrey, Howard Boatwright, Brian Israel, and Richard Wernick. Of course, the performers are New York’s finest. If you have a long winter evening ahead of you or just want some one-stop shopping for some of the best music you might have missed over the last three decades, check out this set.
1: Steven Stucky Sappho Fragments • Brian Israel String Quartet No. 2 • Elizabeth Alexander My Aunt Gives Me a Clarinet Lesson • Robert Keefe Riff, Variations on a Gershwin Tune (or Two) 2: Christopher Rouse The Surma Ritornelli • Robert Palmer Carmina Amoris • Earl George Arioso Daniel S. Godfrey Scrimshaw, Festoons • Joseph Downing Partita VI • Malcolm Lewis 3 Etudes • Dana Wilson Dancing with the Devil 3: Melinda Wagner Sextet • Harris Lindenfeld from the Grotte des Combarelles • Christopher Hopkins Sonatas in Dark to Light • Ron Caltabiano Clarinet Quartet • Ann Silsbee Wakings • Howard Boatwright Adoration & Longing 4: David Liptak Rhapsodies • Roberto Sierra Cronicas del discubrimiento • Richard Wernick A Poison Tree • Samuel Pellman Crane Songs • Augusta Read Thomas Bells Ring Summer • Ping Jin 2 Etudes 5: James Willey Society Music • Nicholas V. D’Angelo Some Summer Sun • Syd Hodkinson Epitaph & Scherzo • Dexter Morrill Six Dark Questions • Liu Zhuang Wind Through Pines • Rob Smith Dance Mix
EASTMAN SCHOOL OF MUSIC
"The performances of these terrific pieces are superb - definitive."
By David Liptak
The Society for New Music, founded in 1972, did not just put together works of many commission composers; this contemporary music group - the oldest one in New York City State - has always organized "low price" concerts and free performances to give different styles of contemporary music the chance to develop and to get a reputation among younger people. Another important aspect to promote the music is the "Brian M. Israel Prize", which goes to a composer 30 years of age or younger. Talking about this 5 CD set box, it includes many different commission works composed between years 1972 and 2002: they symbolize the past and present existance of many different types of contemporary classical music in the New York State and beyond. This CD contains a wide range of pieces: with and without (opera-like) vocals or percussion and of course including such instruments as violins, piano, clarinet, violas, cellos and trombone. One of the interesting pieces, because it's completely unordinary, is "My aunt gives me a clarinet lesson" by Elizabeth Alexander (CD1): there is no accordance between the instruments; it begins and finishes in a totally chaotic way, but becomes minimal in the rest of the performance. Another highlight is by Rob Smith entitled Dance Mix (track nr. 13, CD5). It is particulair for its polyhedric style: it starts in a jazzy way and continues in a tribal tradition; some parts are mainly based on the drums, and some others have no percussions at all. The flute is the main instrument during Samuel Pellman's composition entitled Crane Songs (track nr. 4, CD4). It follows a melancholic line in a narritive way, while accompanied by a minimal acoustic guitar. It is of course difficult to compile 30 years of music history, but Innova managed to release an nice overview.
Thank you for the beautiful and impressive CD of American Music! WOW! It is stunning!
By Augusta Read Thomas
MUSIC AND VISION
This is a most worthy undertaking ...' The New York based Society for New Music has produced a remarkable five-CD box which, it says, is a natural result of its own stated mission to commission and promote regional composers. The contents, about six hours of very contrasting and splendidly performed chamber works, include commissions that span the life of the Society which was formed in 1971 to support the growth of the central New York musical community.
By Patrick Stanford
The contents are kaleidoscopic, a dazzling array of styles from 29 composers of all ages...a colorful and enthusiastic masterpiece.
By Patric Stanford