20th Century Consort
Christopher Kendall, Conductor
Take Me Places Allan Schindler [ 16:17]
The Winds Begin to Rise [ 3:14]
Soft Hour, that Wakes the Wish [ 5:49]
Chariot of Fire [ 7:15]
Sara Stern, flute, Loren Kitt, clarinet,
Lambert Orkis, piano, Thomas Jones, percussion,
Barbara Sonies, violin, Glenn Garlick, cello,
Christopher Kendall, conductor
Recorded in Coolidge Auditorium, Library of Congress, November, 1981
Cantata for tenor voice, percussion
and electronic sounds Maurice Wright [16:22]
I. To Music, to Becalm his Fever [ 2:31]
II. To Lucia Playing on Her Lute [ 4:16]
III. The Commendation of Music [ 2:32]
IV. Wit Predominant [ 3:41]
V. To Music, to Becalm His Fever (continued) [ 3:21]
David Gordon, tenor, Thomas Jones, percussion
Recorded at University College, University of Maryland,
College Park MD, March, 1981.
ELIXIR (Consortium VIII) Joseph Schwantner [11:05]
Sara Stern, flute, Loren Kitt, clarinet, Dan Rouslin, violin,
Barbara Westphal, viola, David Budd, cello, Lambert Orkis, piano
Christopher Kendall, conductor
Recorded in Coolidge Auditorium, Library of Congress, July 1979
ELECTRIKALEIDOSCOPE George Rochberg [22:44]
I. Double Canon Overture [ 1:27]
II. Blues Rock (A) [ 3:09]
III. Adagio [12:07]
IV. Blues Rock (B) [ 4:21]
V. Tag Finale [ 1:39]
Sara Stern, flute, Loren Kitt, clarinet, Dan Rouslin, violin,
Glenn Garlick, cello, Lambert Orkis, piano and electric piano
Recorded in Coolidge Auditorium, Library of Congress, November 1979
Recorded in Coolidge Auditorium, Library of Congress, November 1979
The 2Oth Century Consort,
founded in 1975, was established as the resident ensemble for contemporary music at the Smithsonian Institution's Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden in 1978. In its annual concert series, the Consort presents dynamic programs of new music frequently related to the museum's exhibitions. Its programming seeks a balance of musical experience ranging from Stravinsky and Bartok to world premieres of both leading and emerging American composers.
Under the direction of its founder and conductor, Christopher Kendall, the Consort's artists include principal players from the National Symphony Orchestra, along with other prominent chamber musicians from Washington
and beyond. Associate Conductor of the Seattle Symphony from 1987 to 1992,
Mr. Kendall is Director of the School of Music at the University of Maryland
and founder and lutenist of the Folger Consort .
20th Century Consort Concerts have been broadcast nationally, and the
ensemble has recorded widely for the Innova, Delos, Nonesuch, ASV,
Centaur, Arabesque, CRI and Smithsonian Collection labels. The ensemble
has toured nationally, and has presented special programs at Lincoln Center, the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, Dumbarton Oaks, the Washington National Cathedral, Spoleto USA and many other distinguished venues.
Take Me Places,
for flute, clarinet, violin, cello, piano, percussion
Allan Schindler was born in Stamford, Connecticut, in 1944. In his youth he studied woodwinds and theory at the Cleveland Institute of Music, learned the Schillinger System of composition under Bert Henry, and performed in jazz and rock bands. He took a double degree at Oberlin College (B.M. in composition, B.A. in English) and then went on to the University of Chicago, where he earned both his masterÕs and doctorates in composition, working with Ralph Shapey and Richard Wernick. He taught briefly at Ball State University and for seven years at Boston University, then went to the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, where he is a Professor of Composition in the Composition Department and also Director of the Eastman Computer Music Center. His works are divided between those that are purely acoustic and those that include or feature computer music resources. He is co-director and producer of the yearly ImageMovementSound Festival, which sponsors the creation and presentation of innovative collaborative works incorporating music, film and dance.
Take Me Places, composed in 1979, calls for flute, clarinet, violin, cello, piano, percussionist. It was
premiered by the Musica Nova ensemble,
conducted by Sydney Hodkinson, in 1980.
The composer writes: In Take Me Places I sought to create a chamber work that is expansive in its musical gestures, but also treats the group as a tightly-knit ensemble. During the first movement, rhythmically propulsive themes and punctuations are developed in cyclical fashion. The piano gradually pulls apart from the ensemble into a solo capacity. A similar rhythmic energy pervades the third movement, culminating in a series of "wave upon wave" swells. By contrast, the second movement, and the coda of the third, center around a hushed musical quality that might be suggestive of introspection, distance, or "mystery." A recurring melodic figure, usually presented by the flute, forms the thread around which various other
thematic fragments and colors are interwoven. Sung, scat, spoken and whispered fragments performed by the players are an extension of the instrumental motives, and often serve as a bridge between the two musical poles of the piece.The titles of the individual movements [The Winds Begin to Rise; Soft Hour, that Wakes the Wish; Chariot of Fire], and the texts of the whispered passages in the third movement, are taken from poems of the English Romantics. (I was appalled when, shortly after the premiere of this work, the Hollywood film Chariots of Fire was released, and for a few years I was consistently queried during "meet the composer" sessions as to whether the third movement had been "inspired" by the film. Nope – no connection whatsoever.) As to the title of the work, it simply suggests something that I believe any piece of music should
accomplish for the listener.
for tenor voice, percussion
Maurice Wright (born in Front Royal, Virginia, October 17, 1949) studied composition at Duke University with Iain Hamilton and then at Columbia University with Mario Davidovsky, Jack Beeson, Vladimir Ussachevsky, and Charles Dodge. As his educational lineage might suggest, Wright's earlier work made considerable use of twelve-tone techniques in the approved academic style of the period. He was also active in the composition of electronic music and of works that combined electronic and acoustic instruments, such as the Chamber Symphony for Piano and Electronic Sound. By the late 1970s he began working in a more tonal, lyrical idiom, with less use of serial precompositional planning.
Wright taught at Columbia University in the
mid-1970s, then spent a year at Boston University (1978-79); the following summer he was the composition teacher in the Young Artists Program of the Boston University Tanglewood Institute. Since 1980 he has been on the faculty of Temple University in Philadelphia. His works range widely from purely electronic music to a wide range of chamber scores, songs, orchestral works, and two operas, one (still unperformed) based on John Philip Sousa's Faustian novel The Fifth String and the other, The Trojan Conflict, treating the events of the Trojan War in a parody of television news reports in which a quartet of Greek gods and goddesses play in a quartet as they watch the war taking place on their television screens. Maurice Wright's output includes several works for percussion instruments, including Marimba Music of 1981 for marimba with electronic sound and a marimba concerto premiered by the Boston Symphony Orchestra.
His Cantata blends live music with electronically-generated sounds following a tradition established primarily by his teachers at Columbia University through the Columbia-Princeton Electronic Music Center, which was a focus for this type of composition from the 1950s. The tape part contains both computer-generated sounds (including synthetic speech programmed by Charles Dodge) and other material that uses the "classical" techniques of manipulating sound on analogue tape. Wright prepared a meticulously notated "score" from the tape part so that the live musicians could coordinate their parts with it precisely. Regarding the piece, the composer comments: My Cantata for tenor voice, percussion, and electronic sound is music about music: a celebration of harmony and sound. I chose these seventeenth-century texts because they sing so well about the effect of music in moments of passion and in times of quiet re-
flection. The singer is joined by a kind of "ghost
chorus" in the first piece and is taken through a series of dream images in the ensuing movements.
Computer-synthesized plucked strings represent Lucia in the second piece, while in the third piece soft bell-like sounds are transformed into robust blasts as the soul is "changed" for harmony.
The witty quality of the text calls for a different style in the fourth song, and an extended
electronic interlude is offered to bring back the
subdued spirit of the opening poem. This time
the ghost chorus joins the singer in the form of
a computer voice singing computer proverbs (MELT WITH EASE/FALL LIKE THE FLOWERS /WITH THIS MY HEAVEN) drawn from the human text. A brief but noisy coda concludes
the dream and returns the singer to his silence.
The electronic sound serves as an accompaniment of accordion-like dimension. It is full and complex in one instance while simple and intimate in another. The various percussion instruments also were chosen for their particular points on lines spinning pitched and unpitched sound, focused and diffused articulation. In this way the two parts sometimes support the voice with polite background, but also often challenge it, race with it, mimic it. – Maurice Wright
Elixir (Consortium VIII)
Joseph Schwantner (b. 1943, Chicago) became exposed to music while playing tuba in high school and studying guitar, through which he pursued to some degree all of the musical worlds represented by the instrument-– classical, folk music, and jazz. He studied music theory in high school with the intention of becoming a jazz composer. After attending the National Stage Band Camp after his senior year in high school, he enrolled in the Chicago Conservatory College, where he majored in composition, studying with Bernard Dieter. A radio broadcast of the Warsaw Autumn Festival, one of the world's premiere new-music festivals, proved seminal. "I never imagined music could sound like that, and I lay awake all night thinking about it." Jazz began to recede in his interests, as he immersed himself in a whole new body of music. In 1964 he entered Northwestern University as a graduate student in composition; his principal teachers there were Alan Stout and Anthony Donato. From that point he began to make his mark with remarkable speed, winning three BMI Student Composer awards before graduation. He chose the title Consortium for the first two of these (1970 and 1971) and kept that term–-implying a mixed ensemble of varying composition, but composed of virtuosos–at least as a subtitle for a number of later works, including Elixir (1976), which is the eighth of the series.
His earliest works employed aspects of the
serial devices that were very much part of
the academic training of the day, yet even in Diaphonia Intervallum (1967) his fascination for timbre, extended treatment of the instruments, and unusual color combinations was apparent.
By the time of Elixir, which was performed at
the 1978 ISCM Festival in Helsinki, he was using extended percussion (in this case, played by
non-percussionists) such as antique cymbals,
crystal glasses tuned with water and played
with the fingers, to say nothing of one of the most ancient of human forms of music-
making, whistling. The piece is based–like most "respectable" compositions of the time–on a
single series of pitches, but it is the color and the sense of the work as a miniature flute concerto that give it its personality. The piece unfolds as
a series of strongly contrasting moods, often nervous and lively, then suddenly hushed and
sustained, with long-held high-pitched sonorities that hint at electronic sounds, though they are entirely acoustic. Gradually these "mystical"
passages seem to take over, and by the end of the work, they transport the listener to another world, a world of quiet, shimmering brightness.
For a good part of his career, George Rochberg was one of the leading composer/teachers of the highly rational technique of composition pioneered by Arnold Schoenberg and passed to his brilliant students Berg and Webern. Born in Paterson, New Jersey, in 1918, he studied composition at the Mannes School of Music and then, after the interruption of wartime military service, completed his studied at the Curtis Institute in Philadelphia. Thus Rochberg came of age as a composer just about the time that serialism was making its first real impact on American composers, all but a handful of whom had belittled or simply ignored that approach to composition in the years before World War II. But the decades following the war were a time when the twelve-tone technique really took root in this country and attracted the attention of a great many composers.
Rochberg found his way to this approach by way of Italy, not Germany or Austria. A Fulbright Fellowship in 1950 took him to Italy, where he came into contact with Luigi Dallapiccola, who aroused his interest in serial music. Turning from the idioms of Stravinsky and Hindemith that had dominated his early compositions, Rochberg accepted serialism wholeheartedly as the inevitable culmination of the development of music and as a liberating force. In 1960 he was named chairman of the music department at the University of Pennsylvania, where he remained until his retirement. During these years he quickly established himself among the coterie of serial composers and was highly regarded in professional circles for his Chamber Symphony, Symphony No. 2, and the String Quartet No. 2 of 1962. After his Piano Trio of 1963, Rochberg left strict serialism, broadening his musical palette to include occasional quotations from the works of other composers, often tonal composers.
A breakthrough—certainly a shock to his admirers in the serial camp—came with the two pieces composed in 1972, Electrikaleidoscope and the String Quartet No. 3, which offered a dramatic and expressive synthesis of Beethovenian and Mahleresque gestures and tonal centers in a contemporary work. The change had been coming gradually, particularly when, after the tragic death of a son, Rochberg realized he could not express everything he wanted to say in the serial language of his early works. First he experimented with collage compositions, in which mingled quotations of passages from older music with newly composed material. Ultimately, though, he chose to draw, broadly and freely, on the vast range of the tonal language. The two 1972 compositions just mentioned involved original music throughout, but cast in specific styles drawn from the music a century or more ago. RochbergÕs change of view, his new interest in connecting with the historical tradition and with listeners who came to hear his music, is treated at length in a volume of his essays, The Aesthetics of Survival: a Composer's View of Twentieth-Century Music. In making this change, Rochberg became one of the leaders of a return to tonality, "the new romanticism," so that he could draw upon the widest possible resources of music "from the purest diatonicism to the most complex chromaticism."
Electrikaleidoscope follows, consciously or unconsciously, a favorite shaping tactic of Bart—kÕs, the arch form in which the movements of a work are
balanced on either side of a central point. Of the five movements, the second and fourth explicitly evoke popular musical genres both through their content and the use of amplification, while the other movements are acoustic and grow from musical gestures that are more characteristic of the classical-music tradition. The opening Double Canon Overture is a bouncy, cheerful expression of kind of lithe athleticism. Blues-Rock (A) is propulsive in its energy. The central Adagio, the longest movement of the piece, is basically lyrical and seems to grow out of melodic and harmonic ideas characteristic of the classical and early romantic eras, though with a sensibility of our time. The middle section recalls for a brief time the "popular" character of the amplified movements. The following Blues-Rock (B) is more "down and dirty" than the first, while the Tag Finale returns to the physical athleticism of the beginning to close this arch of strongly contrasting ideas.
© 2002 by Steven Ledbetter
Session Producer for original 1979-Õ81 sessions, Bill Bennett
Originally recorded and digitally remastered by Curt Wittig
Special thanks to Dennis Deloria and Suzanne Thouvenelle for restoration of the dbx analog masters of the original 1980s releases.
Program notes by Steven Ledbetter
Cover artwork and graphic design by Jeanne Krohn
This recording was made possible by a grant from
the Aaron Copland Fund for Music Recording Program
administered by the American Music Center.
innova is supported by an endowment from
the McKnight Foundation and by a grant
from the National Endowment for the Arts