Joseph Klein

William Kleinsasser

Equipoise

Innova 611

 

Born in Los Angeles in 1962, Joseph Klein holds a Doctor of Music degree in Composition from Indiana University where he studied with Harvey Sollberger, Claude Baker, and Eugene O’Brien. He also holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Music from the California State Polytechnic University at Pomona, and a Master of Arts degree from the University of California at San Diego, where his composition teachers included Robert Erickson, Roger Reynolds, and Bernard Rands. He is currently Associate Professor and Chair of Composition Studies at the University of North Texas College of Music. Klein’s compositions have been broadcast and performed at national and international venues including the Gaudeamus International Musicweek, the American Music Week in Bulgaria, and contemporary music festivals and conferences throughout the United States.  He has been a featured guest composer at academic institutions in the United States and Europe, where he presents composition masterclasses, organizes performances of his works, and lectures about issues pertaining to contemporary music and society.  Klein is the recipient of awards and honors from such organizations as the National Endowment for the Arts, the American Composers Forum/Jerome Foundation, the American Music Center, the Gaudeamus Foundation of Amsterdam, Phi Mu Alpha, Meet the Composer, and the American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers (ASCAP).

 

William Kleinsasser received his Doctor of Music and Master of Music degrees in composition from Indiana University School of Music. Before studying at Indiana University, Kleinsasser received Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Music degrees from the University of Oregon. His teachers include Derek Healey, Frederick Fox, and Eugene O’Brien. Kleinsasser’s compositions, many of which strive to integrate new developments in electro-acoustic music with traditional instrumental performance, have received national and international recognition in concerts, competitions, conferences, and festivals. His music has been presented in public readings by the Indianapolis Symphony and the Civic Orchestra of Chicago, and has been performed by the National Symphony Orchestra, the League of Composers/ISCM, the Pittsburgh New Music Ensemble, the Philadelphia Orchestra Trombone Quartet, the American Camerata for New Music, duo runedako, the Washington DC Composers Forum, and the New Music Ensemble at Towson University. His work has been supported by grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, the American Music Center, Meet the Composer, the Argosy Foundation, and Towson University, and by commissions. Kleinsasser is Director of the New Music Ensemble and Professor of Composition at Towson University.

 

Occam’s Razor

seven studies for ten players

 

 

Conductor: Joseph Klein

Flute/piccolo/alto flute: Terri Sundberg

English horn: Charles Veazey

Clarinet/bass clarinet: John Scott

Trumpet: Leonard Candelaria

Horn: William Scharnberg

 

Producer: Joseph Klein; Recording: Michael Thompson, J.T. Rinker, Steven Makela; Editing/mixing/mastering: William Kleinsasser.

 

Recorded May 10-11, 1999 in the Lucille “Lupe” Murchison Performing Arts Center at the University of North Texas.  Edited, mixed, and mastered in the Computer Music Studio at Towson University.

 

Composed between May of 1994 and February of 1999, Occam’s Razor is a collection of seven brief studies for ten players intended as an exploration of a variety of musical procedures, structural devices, and interdisciplinary references.  Numerical sequences serve as the basic organizing element, from the micro-level rhythmic and pitch cells, to movement durations (resulting in a proportional ratio of 7:8:5:11:6:10:9), to the instrumentation itself (one percussion, two brass, three woodwinds, four strings).  Moreover, the work is constructed as a dynamic unfolding of “sub-ensembles” within the whole; thus, the work comprises ten solo sections, nine duos, eight trios, etc., with only a single section that includes the entire complement of ten players.  The work’s title refers to a principle devised by the English philosopher William of Occam (c.1285 - c.1349) which states that where more than one theory exists, the simplest one should be applied; also known as the law of parsimony, “Occam’s Razor” implies a degree of complexity beyond that which is manifest. 

 

The first study of the set, estuary (chaotic fugato quasi toccata), takes as its metaphorical model a geological formation--specifically, the point where a river is met by the tides at an inlet of the sea.  The movement is loosely fugal, though the character is reminiscent of a toccata (a rapid, florid, introductory movement); in this instance, the structure is derived from chaos theory, whereby erratic oscillations create bifurcations within the texture (musically represented by the splitting of a single line, first into two parts, then four, then seven).  The point at which a river meets the sea displays a similar type of turbulent behavior.

 

The second study, au seuil de ruine (notturno interrotto), is in two equal parts, the first of which consists of a cluster derived from two octatonic collections (pivoting around a central E-flat) which undergoes a gradual registral expansion and rhythmic compression.  This opening section is interrupted by three brief, unrelated episodes, the first of which returns prior to a highly condensed recapitulation of the opening section in retrograde.  The movement’s title (“on the threshold of decay”) refers to a painting by surrealist artist René Magritte, Au Seuil de Liberté (On the Threshold of Liberty, 1929), as considered through the deconstructionist prism of Jacques Derrida.

 

The third study, one of many circles (hyperfractal variants), consists simply of thirteen brief statements of a motive in various guises.  The distilled, self-similar quality of these variants reflects the influence of fractal geometry—a term coined by Belgian mathematician Benoit Mandelbrot to classify those fragmented and irregular structures that are not represented in classic Euclidean geometry.  The title is from a line in Wallace Stevens’ poem “Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird” (1917), which also served as a model for this study.

 

The fourth study, maßenkristalle (loxodromic chaconne), is modelled after the Baroque chaconne, or continuous variation process.  The chaconne subject consists of an eleven-note row which gradually spirals upward in pitch while simultaneously descending in register through a series of octave displacements; thus, it is similar in design to a loxodrome—an imaginary line on the surface of a sphere which is oblique to the equator, crossing all meridians at the same angle in a spiral path toward the pole.  The title is from Elias Canetti’s book Maße und Macht (Crowds and Power, 1960) and refers to the loss of individual identity experienced during the formation of a crowd, initiated by what Canetti refers to as Maßenkristalle or “crowd crystals.”

 

 

The fifth study, the myth of eternal return (entropic ostinato), consists of a disintegrating ostinato texture which is followed by a brief coda reminiscent of the second movement notturno.  The title comes from the opening ruminations of Milan Kundera’s novel The Unbearable Lightness of Being (1984), in which the author reflects upon (and ultimately rejects) Friedrich Nietzsche’s concept of eternal return.  Kundera’s contemplation of an existence that recurs ad infinitum—becoming “a solid mass, permanently protuberant”—and the inherent weight of such a burden is the basic premise of the novel, and the conceptual germ of this movement.

 

The sixth study, crown knots & cascades (meta-rondo in chiasmus), consists of two intertwined processes: the first process is associated with a core unit of three instruments—bass clarinet, trumpet, and viola—and is characterized by a decrease in tempo (from MM 180 to MM 90) and unit size (from seven to three instruments) throughout; the second process is associated with a core unit of three different instruments—piccolo, harpsichord, and contrabass—and is characterized by an increase in tempo (from MM 60 to MM 120) and unit size (from three to seven).  These two processes are presented in alternation, resulting in a palindrome that crosses at brief overlapping solos in the trumpet and harpsichord.  The title is drawn from a line in Alice Fulton’s poem “Volunteers” (from Sensual Math, 1995), part of a sequence that draws upon genetic crossover as a significant aspect of its trope and subject.

 

The seventh study, time’s maw (moto perpetuo), deals with the perception of time and its passage.  The title is borrowed from a line in John Ashbery’s poem “All and Some” (from the collection Self-Portrait in a Convex Mirror, 1974), and the musical model is that of a moto perpetuo (a short piece built upon repetitive patterns).  The pitch material is derived from “The Westminster Chimes” melody, which is subjected to various temporal and pitch distortions, and a kinetic intensification that ultimately leads to a complete textural saturation.

 

Occam’s Razor was supported in part by a Composer Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts and a Faculty Research Grant from the University of North Texas.  The complete work was premiered on March 8, 1999 at the University of North Texas by the UNT Faculty Chamber Ensemble, conducted by the composer.

Der Leichenschleicher

character study after Elias Canetti

 

Solo contrabass: Todd Markey

 

Producer: Joseph Klein; Recording: Henry Vega; Editing: Joseph Klein; Mixing/mastering: William Kleinsasser.

 

Recorded April 16, 2000 in the Center for Experimental Music and Intermedia (CEMI) at the University of North Texas.  Edited at CEMI; mixed and mastered in the Computer Music Studio at Towson University.

 

Der Leichenschleicher (The Corpse-skulker) is one of a series of short works for solo instrument based upon characters from Der Ohrenzeuge: Fünfzig Charaktere (Earwitness: Fifty Characters) by Elias Canetti (1905-1994).  Other works in this series have been composed for violin, bass flute, ocarina, contrabassoon, glass harmonica, trumpet, and alto saxophone.  Canetti’s distinctive studies incorporate poetic imagery, singular insights, and unabashed wordplay to create fifty ironic paradigms of human behavior.  In “Der Leichenschleicher,” Canetti describes a well-traveled character who relishes conveying his morbid news to acquaintances in a bar: “The moment he spots one, he walks over solemnly, greets him, stops, remains silent, and then says in a lamenting, rather singsong voice: ‘Have you heard, N.N. has died’…. He invites you to the funeral, he explains where it is, and gives detailed and precise directions…. Thus he goes from bar to bar, looking for acquaintances… he infects them with his funeral lusts and invites them so emphatically that some people come even though they would have never dreamt of it, but fearing his next announcement could be about them.” [Canetti, pp.21-22.]

 

Der Leichenschleicher was composed in June of 1997 for contrabassist Michael Hartt, and was first performed by Todd Markey on November 22, 1999 at the University of North Texas.

 

 

Of an Expanding Notion

 

Conductor: Paul Rardin

Oboe: Fatma Daglar

Bassoon: Terry Fenlon

Trumpet: Luis Engelke

Trombone: Sam Woodhead

Percussion: Michelle Humphreys

Violin: Celeste Blase

Cello: David Shumway

 

Producer: William Kleinsasser; Recording engineer: David Kim-Boyle; Assistant engineer: Michael Furniere; Editing/mixing/mastering: William Kleinsasser.

 

Recorded March 24, 2003 in the Harold J. Kaplan Concert Hall at Towson University.  Edited, mixed, and mastered in the Computer Music Studio at Towson University.

 

Of an Expanding Notion, composed in 1989, engages the creation of energy and motion. Different types of energy—kinetic, compressed, controlled, potential, explosive, and latent—are presented musically. The title of the work relates to the central idea of expanding formal proportions. The combination of energy types and formal expansion creates an energized motion that serves as a design principle on many levels. The beginning of the piece presents an explosive set of ever-lengthening phrases that eventually build to a point of clear focus. This opening then dissolves into a still section whose growing intensity triggers a racing, propelling final section that alternates phrases of increasing length and juxtaposes tension and compression—summarizing the design of the entire piece.

 

Harmonically, the piece is based on a progression of chromatic chords. Its voice leading serves throughout the piece as a basis for linear design but is not overtly applied until the final section where it is treated strictly as a means of gravitation toward the focal pitch B-natural, which recalls the opening sonority of the piece. The linear structure is also based on two symbolic treatments of the pitch B-natural: the first ascending from B-natural to C-sharp, the second descending from B-natural to A-natural. In this way, intervallic ascent is expressive of an outward opening and descent expressive of a closing repose.

 

 

 

Concerto for saxophone, chamber orchestra,

and computer

 

Solo alto saxophone: John Sampen

Conductor: Paul Rardin

Computer: William Kleinsasser

 

Nova Ensemble:

Flute 1/piccolo: Audrey Easley

Flute 2/alto flute: Julie Williams

Clarinet 1: Cindy Wolverton

Clarinet 2: Abner Baez

Horn: Brian Brown

Trumpet: Daniel Lindgren      

Trombone: Michael Underwood

 

Producer: William Kleinsasser; Recording/editing/mixing/mastering: William Kleinsasser;

Assistants: Elainie Lillios, J.T. Rinker, Michael Thompson, Steven Makela.

 

Recorded March 9, 1999 in the Lucille “Lupe” Murchison Performing Arts Center at the University of North Texas.  Edited, mixed, and mastered in the Computer Music Studio at Towson University.

 

Concerto for saxophone, chamber orchestra, and computer was written for saxophonist John Sampen and was composed with support from a composers special project grant from the National Endowment for the Arts. Partial support for the composition of this work was also granted by the Faculty Research Committee of Towson University in Baltimore, Maryland. The score was completed in 1995 with the computer music and related software programming completed in 1997 when it received its first performance by John Sampen with conductor Paul Rardin during the 1997 Twentieth Century Music Festival at Towson University.

 

 

About the music:

 

Because the tradition of the concerto as a genre spans a considerable number of centuries, the genre offers a composer a rich context within which to present new ideas. The traditional concerto’s two primary agents of contrast are represented by the soloist and the orchestra. The interaction of these opposing forces, the concertato principal, has historically represented the primary means of building and shaping a concerto. During the past century, the concertato principal has formed the basis of considerable exploration in musical design. Among the most intriguing of these developments has been the treatment of multi-layered contrasts of forces. This has led to the inclusion of computer music as a new force in concertos and it is out of this developmental line that this work emerges. As in others of its kind, the inclusion of computer music in this concerto folds a new agent of contrast into the traditional concertato model creating a third dimension in the design of the concerto resulting in three forces: soloist, orchestra, and computer transformation of solo and orchestral music. This three-fold interaction holds intriguing potential since our current musical world can be seen as defined by these three means of musical presentation: the individual master performer, the group ensemble, and the technological reproduction of performed music — each vying for attention and celebration in our moment in the unfolding history of music.  The interaction of these three forces is influenced by three modes for the treatment of musical ideas. They are presentation (emerge), development (engage), and transformation (release). These modes combine with the three-fold contrast of forces to produce a richly varied design.

 

The germinal musical ideas for the work are encapsulated in twenty brief cadenzas originally composed for solo saxophone. While the twenty cadenzas are rarely presented by the soloist alone, the cadenzas, in their many developed and presentational guises, form the primary thread of continuity throughout the concerto. These cadenzas present manifestations of basic musical characteristics (compression, reiteration, diffusion, sweep, climb, lilt, etc). The cadenzas are further shaped by the three modes (presentation, development, and transformation) and by the multi-dimensional process of opposing forces described above. All of this results in a labyrinthine web of forces, modes, and characters in which the saxophone presents musical ideas, the orchestra amplifies and develops these ideas and the computer transforms the saxophone and orchestral music.

 

 

 

About the use of the computer in the Concerto:

 

Integrated with the orchestra and soloist in this concerto is computer music that is realized in concert by a computer system running software that plays pre-recorded soundfiles into the mix of the live performance. MIDI sequences are also realized during performance using a digital sampler. This approach emerged during the 1980s and 1990s as a practical way to integrate digital music with live performance without requiring the performers to synchronize with prerecorded tape playback. Using this method, the soloist and orchestra are freer to perform with temporal nuance which allows a more fluid, and musically-timed performance than the older performer+tape method. The layers of computer-controlled, digitally-recorded music were created in the studio by the composer using sound manipulation software including Csound (Barry Vercoe, Media Lab M.I.T. and contributors), SoundHack (Tom Erbe), and Thonk (Arjen van der Schoot). These software tools were applied to recordings of the twenty solo saxophone cadenzas to produce transformations based on cross-synthesis, phase vocoding, granular synthesis, and complex dynamic cross filtering. Some of these transformed sound files then became the sources for orchestrated instrumental music, folding the process back into the acoustic domain. Once the sound files were developed in the studio, they were organized into a program that allowed for overlaid playback and mixing along with control of a digital sampler using Cycling74’s Max software (Miller Puckette, David Zicarelli and contributors). Using layered digital soundfile playback and live MIDI sequences provided tightly synchronized digital music and carefully made sound images integrated into a flexibly timed performance with the soloist and orchestra.

 

 

 

About Kleinsasser’s concerto, saxophonist John Sampen writes: “The Concerto for saxophone, chamber orchestra, and computer is a thirty-two minute composition using a fascinating musical language and an unusual formal structure, blending electronic technology with live acoustical performance. Perhaps a verbal portrait for Kleinsasser’s concerto might include the following picturesque adjectives: dramatic; eerie; compelling; timeless; uncompromising; wild; unconventional; virtuosic; mammoth. The resulting musical construct comprises a significant and bold contribution to the saxophone’s late 20th century repertoire.”

 

 

 

About the performers:

 

Todd Markey is a double bassist, composer, and jazz performer now freelancing in the Atlanta area.  He was on the faculty of Valdosta State University in Valdosta, Georgia from 2000 to 2004, and is pursuing a doctorate in bass performance from the University of North Texas.  He received the Master of Music degree from North Texas in 1997 and the Bachelor of Arts from Augustana College in 1995. Markey’s past orchestral posts include the Valdosta Symphony Orchestra, the Albany (GA) Symphony, the Irving (TX) Symphony, the Cedar Rapids (IA) Symphony, the Garland (TX) Symphony, and the Clinton (IA) Symphony.  He also performed with the Cleveland Orchestra through the Kent/Blossom Music Festival.  As a jazz bassist, Markey has toured Central and Northern Argentina with the Georgia Jazz Quartet.  Markey has also gained significant recognition as a composer, and has studied composition with Cindy McTee, Joseph Klein, and Tom Robin Harris.

 

 

As one of America’s leading concert saxophonists, John Sampen is particularly recognized as a distinguished artist in contemporary music literature. He has commissioned and premiered over 80 works, including compositions by Adler, Albright, Bolcom, Cage, Rands, Subotnick, and Ussachevsky.  In 1970, Sampen was a recitalist and certificate winner at the International Geneva Concours in Switzerland. He has performed as a soloist with ensembles from all over the world, including the Nurnberg Symphony Orchestra, Biel Swiss Symphony, Osaka Municipal Winds, Toledo Symphony Orchestra, Orchestra Internazionale d’Italy, and the New Mexico Symphony.  Dr. Sampen has recorded with Belgian and Swiss National Radio and is represented on the Innova, Orion, CRI, Albany, Capstone, and Neuma Record labels. In collaboration with pianist/composer Marilyn Shrude, John Sampen regularly performs concerts and master classes in Europe, Asia and North America.  Currently a Distinguished Research Artist Professor at Bowling Green State University, Sampen is former president of the North American Saxophone Alliance and a clinician for the Selmer Company.

 

Paul Rardin is conductor of the New Music Ensemble at Towson University in Baltimore, Maryland, and the director of choral activities at TU, where he directs the University Chorale, Chamber Singers, Vocal Jazz Ensemble, and Choral Society. A graduate of Williams College, Rardin also studied at the University of Michigan, where he received the M.M. in composition and the D.M.A. in conducting. He has studied conducting with Theodore Morrison, Jerry Blackstone, Gustav Meier, Helmuth Rilling, Charles Bruffy, and Dale Warland, and composition with Leslie Bassett, George Wilson, and Robert Suderburg. Rardin has regularly conducted music by living composers. His performances with the Towson Chamber Players and New Music Ensemble have included works by Anton Webern, Luciano Berio, Peter Maxwell Davies, Chen Yi, Eugene O’Brien, Jeffrey Mumford, Frederick Fox, and William Kleinsasser. He also conducted Tan Dun’s Elegy: Snow in June with cellist Laurence Lesser for the 2000 World Cello Congress.

 

 

 

Acknowledgements:

 

This project would not have been possible without the generosity, support, inspiration, and friendship of the following people: the administration, staff, and faculty at Towson University and the University of North Texas, including Carl B. Schmidt, Maravene Loeschke, Dean Esslinger, Luz Mangurian, Terry B. Ewell, Mary Ann Criss, Susan Lidard, and John Spivey; the remarkable musicians on this recording—Paul Rardin, John Sampen, Todd Markey, members of the NOVA ensemble and the faculty performers at the University of North Texas, and the Baltimore performers—for their commitment to these challenging works, the success of which are due in large measure to their outstanding musicianship; and special thanks to Susan and Anna, and Heidi, Gabe, and Max, for their unwavering love, inspiration, and support.

 

Additional thanks to Philip Blackburn, the American Composers Forum, and the staff of innova records for their assistance with this project; to Jon Christopher Nelson and the staff of the Center for Experimental Music and Intermedia at UNT for assisting in the performance and recordings of these works; to Roger Reynolds, whose music and writings have had a profound influence on the works recorded here, and Alice Fulton for her compelling poetry; and to Hank DeLeo for generously contributing his artwork to this project and Ted Forbes for his work on the design of this CD.

 

William Kleinsasser would also like to acknowledge the many generous computer music developers who shared their ideas and approaches in a spirit of creative invention. The software for the performance of Concerto for saxophone, chamber orchestra, and computer was developed in conjunction with a similar project for his student Brian Comotto using the AiffPlay external object written by Eric Singer.  The composer’s work in this area also owes to earlier work with Dale Stammen in 1993-94 including introduction to audio playback in Max as well as PlaySMF, an external Max object designed by Bruce Pennycook and programmed by Basil Hilborn and Dale Stammen.

 

The composition of Joseph Klein’s Occam’s Razor and William Kleinsasser’s Concerto for saxophone, chamber orchestra, and computer were supported in part by a Composer’s Special Project Grant from the National Endowment for the Arts, a federal agency that supports the visual, literary and performing arts to benefit all Americans. Additional funding for these works and the present recording was provided by grants from the Towson University Faculty Development and Research Committee and a Faculty Research Grant from the University of North Texas.

 

CD design: Ted Forbes. CD Art: Can’t Lose What You Ain’t Got (1988); Great Pet Minds (1992); Aviators’ Eyes (Mina Loy) (1985); all serigraphs (c) 2004 by Hank DeLeo. Photo credits: Joseph Klein photo by Angilee Wilkerson, Center for Media Production, University of North Texas; John Sampen photo courtesy of Bowling Green State University. Der Leichenschleicher (c) 1997 and Occam’s Razor (c) 1999, Nopone Press; Of an Expanding Notion (c) 1989 MMB, Inc. All works registered with ASCAP.

 

Innova Recordings is supported by an endowment from the McKnight Foundation.

 

 

 

 

Equipoise

 

Joseph Klein

 

1-7       Occam’s Razor (1994-99) [25:36]

                        I. estuary (chaotic fugato quasi toccata) [3:08]         

                        II. au seuil de ruine (notturno interrotto) [3:22]         

                        III. one of many circles (hyperfractal variants) [1:39]         

                        IV. maßenkristalle (loxodromic chaconne) [5:21]         

                        V. the myth of eternal return (entropic ostinato) [2:42]         

                        VI. crown knots & cascades (meta-rondo in chiasmus) 4:29]         

                        VII. time’s maw (moto perpetuo) [4:39]

 

8          Der Leichenschleicher (1997) [4:35]

 

William Kleinsasser

 

9          Of an Expanding Notion (1989) [13:56]

10        Concerto for saxophone, chamber orchestra, and computer (1995-97) [31:48]

 

 

 

Total Duration: 74:00