The Henry Brant Collection,Volume 8

Innova 415

 

WHOOPEE IN D

(1938, rev.1984)

NetherlandsWind Ensemble

Henry Brant,conductor

 

Whoopee in D is areworking of the overture to my unproduced comic opera, EntenteCordiale—A Satire with Music (1936). The overture is based on themelody J.S. Bach added to the Chorale, Wachet auf, and treatedsuccessively as a polka, rumba and galop, with more or less irrelevant circusinterludes. This was partly to annoy my then piano teacher who customarily playedthis chorale as an encore at his piano recitals.

 

Recorded June8, 1984 at the Vredenburg, Utrecht, during the Holland Festival.

 

Rien de Reede,Leon Berendse, flute

WernerHerbers, Carlo Ravelli, oboe

Ab Vos, HensOtter, Bb clarinet

Freek Sluis,bassoon

Guus Dral,contrabassoon

PeterSteinman, Louise Schepel, horn

 

MUSIC FOR A FIVE AND DIMESTORE

for piano,violin and percussion (kitchen hardware) (1932, rev. 1984)

 

Vera Beths,violin

Reinbert deLeeuw, piano

Henry Brant,percussion

In the 1920’sand early 30’s a piano was often found in these chain stores, with a realpianist standing by, ready on request to play a fancy version of any piece of“sheet music” on sale at the counter. My piece was written in the hope that it might one day be played in anactual Woolworth “five and dime”, but as far as I know this never happened.

 

Recorded June4, 1982, at De Doelen, Rotterdam,

during theHolland Festival

Soundengineer: P. Wentzel

Musicdirector: G. Westerdaal

Producer NOS:R.J. de Neeve

 

REVENGE BEFORE BREAKFAST

NewPerformance Group, Seattle

 

Revenge BeforeBreakfast (1982) is a short piece of spatial chamber music for threeisolated duos: piccolo/clarinet, xylophone/vibraphone and violin/cello. Asolitary accordion plays at times when the duo musicians switch to percussioninstruments.

 

Themini-schedule of events includes plotting sessions, inconclusive arguments andsynthetic nostalgias. It was premiered in November 1982 at Cal Arts by theCalifornia E.A.R. Unit.  Recordedin Poncho Hall, Cornish College of the Arts, Seattle, February 12, 1995.

 

Piccolo: PaulTaub

Clarinet:Gregg Miller

Violin: EllaMarie Gray

Cello: WalterGray

Percussion:Matthew Kocmieroski, Thomasa Eckert

Accordion:Laurie Andres

Conductor:Henry Brant

 

 

INSIDE TRACK

Inside Track (1982) is aspatial piano concerto in which the stage is occupied only by the soloist, theprincipal conductor and one percussionist. A string septet is stationed on oneside of the hall, on the other side is a woodwind quartet. In back of the hall,with its own conductor, is a small “street band,” (which includes a sopraninovoice). The pianist attempts no rhythmic coordination with the three groups inthe hall. Inside Track was written especially for the 1982 HollandFestival where it received its premiere.

 

“I began withthe title...What is inside the inside track? Something that moves? Can it getout? Is the track spiral? Is it visible? Audible? Is its location a secret?Does everyone have an inside track? Are they exchangeable? Anyway, these allappear to be musical questions...”

 

Canadianpremiere heard here was recorded December 9, 1990 at Premiere Dance Theatreduring Toronto’s New Music Concerts and broadcast on CBC-Toronto “Two NewHours”, March 3, 1991.  Producer:David Jaeger

RecordingEngineer: David Quinney

 

YvarMikhashoff, solo piano

Henry Brant,conductor

Robert Aitken,conductor

BarbaraHannigan, soprano

 

DouglasStewart, flute, piccolo

CynthiaSteljes, oboe, English horn

RobertStevenson, clarinet, Bass clarinet

KathleenMcLean, bassoon

Peter Lutek,saxophone

Joan Watson,French horn

James Spragg,trumpet

GordonSweeney, trombone

RussellHartenberger, Trevor Tureski, percussion

FujikoImajishi, Marie Bérard, violin

Douglas Perry,Daniel Blackman, viola

DavidHetherington, Simon Fryer, cello

RobertoOcchipinti, double bass

Wes Wraggett,MG Hynes, lights

PennyOlorenshaw, Technical Director

 

JAZZ TOCCATA

ON A BACH THEME

(Toccata on “Wachet Auf”)

Henry Brant,Gerrit Hommerson, pianos

 

This 1940 Toccata has multipleinfluences. As Henry’s teacher, George Antheil’s “slam-bang style ofimprovising polka-like music on the piano” was always operating in thebackground. And Shostakovich’s ballet, The Age of Gold was “a not dissimilarsatirical and discordant polka style” which crept into the beginning andinterludes of the Toccata. Richard (Dicky) Baldwin and Henry Brant playedand improvised for two pianos extensively around 1940. For the Toccata, they triedto imitate the pianistic style of Art Tatum; and some of Lionel Hampton’s“two-fingered vibraphone figures” were thrown in too. Henry and Dicky playedthe Toccata on theirshort-lived WQXR radio show and at parties. It did not receive its first publicperformance until 1984 in Holland.

 

Recorded: June15, 1984, at De Ijsbreker, Amsterdam, during the Holland Festival

 

 

JAZZ CLARINET CONCERTO

NetherlandsWind Ensemble

WernerHerbers, conductor; Jacques Meertens, solo clarinet

 

Jazz ClarinetConcerto (1946) is non-spatial. It’s scored for solo clarinet with thestandard big band combo of the 1930’s and 40’s: five saxophones (doubling onclarinets), three trumpets, two trombones, acoustic rhythm section of piano,drum set, guitar and bass.

 

It was writtenfor Benny Goodman in his “swing” idiom, but Goodman never played the concerto,claiming that it was too “abstract.” (This despite the fact that he hadcommissioned and performed intricate works by Hindemith, Bartok and Milhaud.)The first professional performance took place in Amsterdam in 1984 with theNetherlands Wind Ensemble and Jacques Meertens on solo clarinet.

 

The NetherlandsWind Ensemble (1959-1988) was mostly comprised of players from the RoyalConcertgebouw Orchestra.  The grouptoured internationally, all over Europe, the Far East, Australia, and theU.S.A.  Jacques Meertens, thesoloist, is still the Principal Clarinetist of the Orchestra, and theconductor, Werner Herbers, its former Principal Oboist.

 

Recorded:Utrecht, Holland, January 8, 1984

Transferredfrom cassette by Barbara Hirsch

 

DOUBLE-CRANK

HAND ORGAN MUSIC

GerritHommerson and Henry Brant, two pianos

Amy Snyder,Ernestine Stoop and Eduard van Regteren Altena, percussion

 

Double-CrankHand Organ Music (1933, rev. 1984) is an Ives-like attempt to reproduce the actualsounds of the out-of-tune and broken-down hand organs which were common in NewYork City around that time. Unfortunately, musical instruments played in thestreets and in the subways were abolished around 1940 by theotherwise-admirable New York mayor, Fiorello LaGuardia.

 

Recorded: DeIjsbreker, Holland Festival, June 15, 1984

 

ALTITUDE 8750

“InstantSpatial Piece” for Telluride “Composer to Composer” Conference, Sheridan OperaHouse, Colorado, July 15, 1990

 

"Altitude8750" refers to the height of a mountain ski resort in Telluride,Colorado, where 16 composers met for a summer conference in 1990 and improvisedon musical materials produced by Henry Brant.

 

The TellurideGlacial Spatial Ensemble

Henry Brant,conductor

 

PaulineOliveros, accordion

LaurellWyckoff, flute, piccolo

Wadada LeoSmith, trumpet, koto

Gloria Cheng,piano

I Wayan Sadra,“metallophone”

Jody Diamond,solo voice (Indonesian text)

Jason Reinier,tenor sax

LarryPolansky, mandolin

John Lifton,solo voice (falsetto, original text)

CharlesAmirkhanian, glockenspiel

James Tenney,xylophone

David Gamper,harmonium

Sally Davis,blow-organ (melodica)

Ge Gan-ru,bowed saw

GerhardStaebler, Kunsu Shim, bullroarers

Hugh Davies,“Bass guitar” (synthesized)

 

VocalEnsemble:

Neely Bruce,conductor

 

John Fago,Baerbel Hacke, Lauren Pratt, Kathy Wilkowski, Pamela Zoline and five additionalsingers from the Telluride community.

 

John Lifton’stext:

Your body is

A bag of blood

Lift it up to8,000 feet

Bloodytransactions get more difficult

Gas and liquidbubble through the veins

The pains:

Headache

Nausea

Sleepiness,sleeplessness

Lack of Breath

 

Your body is

A bag of skin

U.V. lightpulsing from the sun

Burning anddistorting DNA

We pay

 

Walkingupwards

Through therocks and mud

The mountainstake

Your heart

The mountainstake

Your skin

The mountainstake

Your spirit

Your body is

A bag of blood

 

Vocal ensembletext:

The air israre!

Build redcorpuscles!

Drink waterconstantly!

Take care inmountain air!

Go easy oncaffeine!

Alcohol inmoderation!

Eat lightly!

Deep, slow,breathing!

Plenty ofrest!

No heavyexercise!

My blood isthin!

My heartpounds!

Can’t catch mybreath!

Dry lips!  Thirsty tongue!

 

DIALOG IN THE JUNGLE

Henry Brant,conductor; Frank Baker, tenor

 

Dialog in theJungle (1964) was commissioned by the Modern Brass Ensemble and theArioso Winds. They agreed to my proposal of a new spatial work for fivewoodwinds, five brass and solo voice. Frank Baker, my Bennington colleague,sang the solo tenor part.

 

Dialog in theJungle, the 1957 poem by my then wife, Patricia Gorman Brant (1925-2000)provided my text. The premiere, heard here, was in New York’s Judson [Steinway]Hall on May 25, 1964. I conducted several subsequent performances at Americancolleges, as well as a performance at the 1984 Holland Festival.

Digitaltransfer by Barbara Hirsch

 

The ModernBrass Ensemble:

Al Ligotti,Don Benedetti, trumpet

George Nadaf,French horn

Robert Hauck,trombone

Lewis E.Waldeck, tuba

 

The AriosoWinds:

Jean Kershaw,flute

Bert Lucarelli,oboe

LloydGreenberg, clarinet

Lester Cantor,bassoon

EdwardBirdwell, French horn

 

In thebeginning we

lived onblossoms exclusively

from that mostprideful tree

And had notlearned the taste of fruit.

 

The tigergrowled: You shall not ride upon my back,

And I agreed

but somehowfound myself astride.

I think thathungry tiger lied.

 

When thetigers appeared, we opened our doors, believing (in our innocence) their story.

We are, theysaid, domesticated cats.

We can I thinkget by without an incident;

they, afterall, were taken in when we

explainedourselves as human beings.

 

The Tigersnarled: You shall not stay past

dinnertime,

And I agreed

one of ourhungers must give way.

I in his bellydined later that day.

 

Tiger and mangnawed heart and bone

which (eachwas positive) was not his own.

 

The Tigerpurred: You shall not flout divine

digestive law.

I laid bothwinding sheet and napkin out:

Victim andvictor are ever in doubt.

 

Pray for mysoul, the Tiger cried.

You are not inmy parish, the man replied.

 

The Tigersaid: Hunger’s excuse is its universality;

impartiallythe sin is spread

darkly overquick and dead.

I have mydoubt

that anysanctified detergent

will wash itout.

 

Tiger and manhurtled down the great thorax,

Foundthemselves domiciled with willing worms.

 

Hungerremained.

 

I searchedamong the catacombs

collectingfamiliar teeth and claws

To recomposemy sassy adversary.

 

And then thesetwo, beatified,

Tiger and man,lighted the candles round their bier and raised their voices in a two part holyhymn,

marveling atthe complement of mutual needs,

At their jointtriumph and linked defeat

And final twinapotheosis.

 

And both wereinnocent of all but sin.

 

      Henry Brant (b. 1913) isAmerica’s foremost composer of acoustic spatial music. The planned positioningof performers throughout the hall, as well as on stage, is an essential factorin his composing scheme and a point of departure for a radically expanded rangeand intensity of musical expression. Brant’s mastery of spatial composingtechnique enables him to write textures of unprecedented polyphonic and/orpolystylistic complexity while providing maximum resonance in the hall andincreased clarity of musical detail for the listener. His catalogue nowcomprises over 100 spatial works.

      Since 2005, HenryBrant has been completing his textbook on orchestration begun in the 1940's. Textures &Timbres, a project spanning nearly hisentire career, will be published in 2008 by Carl Fischer.

      Recent premieresinclude Wind, Water, Clouds & Fire, a PresentMusic commission for St. John’s Cathedral, Milwaukee, Wisconsin in November2004. Ghosts& Gargoyles, a concerto for flute solo with flute orchestra, for New MusicConcerts, Toronto had its premiere in May 2002. Ice Field, for largeorchestral groups and organ, was commissioned by Other Minds for a December2001 premiere by the San Francisco Symphony.

      In the mid 1950’sBrant felt that “single-style music…could no longer evoke the new stresses, layeredinsanities, and multi-directional assaults of contemporary life on the spirit.”In keeping with Brant’s belief that music can be as complex and contradictoryas everyday life, his larger works often employ multiple, contrastingperforming forces, as in Meteor Farm (1982) for symphony orchestra, large jazz band,two choruses, West African drum ensemble and chorus, South Indian soloists,large Gamelan ensemble, percussion orchestra and two Western solo sopranos.Brant’s spatial experiments have convinced him that space exerts specificinfluences on harmony, polyphony, texture and timbre. He regards space asmusic’s “fourth dimension,” (after pitch, time and timbre). Brant continues toexperiment with new combinations of acoustic timbres, even creating entireworks for instrumental family groups of a single timbre: Orbits for 80trombones, and others for multiple flutes, trumpets and guitars. Thispredilection for ensembles of a single tone quality dates from Angels and Devils (1932). Brant does not useelectronic materials or permit amplification in his music.

      A member of theAmerican Academy of Arts & Letters, Brant was awarded the 2002 PulitzerPrize in Music for Ice Field. He has received two Guggenheim Fellowships andwas the first American composer to win the Prix Italia. Among other honors areFord Foundation, Fromm Foundation, National Endowment for the Arts andKoussevitzky awards and the American Music Center’s Letter of Distinction. ThePaul Sacher Foundation in Basel has acquired Brant’s complete archive oforiginal manuscripts including over 300 works (1998). In conjunction withBrant’s 85th birthday concert, Wesleyan University conferred upon him thehonorary degree of Doctor of Fine Arts (1998).

Born in Montreal of American parents in 1913,Henry Brant began composing at the age of eight. After moving to New York in1929, he composed and conducted for radio, film, ballet, and jazz groups.Starting in the late 40s, he taught at Columbia University, Juilliard, and, for24 years, Bennington College. Since 1981, he has made his home in SantaBarbara, California.

 

CREDITS

Whoopee in D,Music for a Five and Dime, Double-crank Hand Organ Music, and Jazz Toccata, usedcourtesy of Beeld en Geluid: KRO, NPS- Netherlands Programme Service.  Inside Track p CanadianBroadcasting Corporation.

 

Thanks to:Paul Taub, Matt Kocmieroski, Charles Amirkhanian, Werner Herbers, JacquesMeertens, Johanna Blask, Dr. Felix Meyer, Nelleke Plugboer, Ruurd Blom, Marlonde Ruiter, Barbara Brown, Barbara Hirsch, Henry Brant, and Kathy Wilkowski.

 

Mastering and restoration: Brian Heller

Series producer, innova director, design: Philip Blackburn

Operations manager: Chris Campbell

 

Innova issupported by an endowment from the McKnight Foundation.  This series is supported by a grantfrom the National Endowment for the Arts.

 

Also in thisseries:

The Henry Brant Collection, Volume 1 (#408): Northern Lights Over theTwin Cities, A Plan of the Air

Volume 2 (#409): Nomads, Ghost Nets, Solar Moth

Volume 3 (#410): Trinity of Spheres; Wind, Water, Clouds, and Fire;Litany of Tides

Volume 4: (#411): Meteor Farm

Volume 5 (#412): Autumn Hurricanes

Volume 6 (#413): Rainforest

Volume 7 (#414): A Concord Symphony

Volume 9 (#416): Dormant Craters