Night Singing

Andrew Rindfleisch with Zeitgeist

Innova 785


Night Singing (2004) (24:50)                                      Andrew Rindfleisch

         For clarinet/bass clarinet, piano, two percussion


1                    I. That Hour (3:03)

                                                It was that hour of the night when guilty dreams

Rise from brown, restless adolescents in swarmsÉ

2                    II. Suddenly, Bells (6:58)

                                                Suddenly, bells leap forth into the air,

Hurling a hideous uproar to the sky

As Ôtwere a band of homeless spirits who fare

Through the strange heavens, wailing stubbornlyÉ

3                    III. Bach Dreams (6:51)

                                                This voice, which seems to pearl and filter

Through my soulŐs inmost shady nook,

Fills me with poems, like a book,

And fortifies me, like a potionÉ

4                    IV. A Crying Horn (8:00)

                                                And one old memory, like a crying horn

Sounds through the forest where my soul is lostÉ

                                                (Text titles/fragments from Charles Baudelaire)


Nine Little Improvisations (2009) (16:16)     Rindfleisch/OŐKeefe

         Pat OŐKeefe, clarinet/bass clarinet, Andrew Rindfleisch, piano

5                    I. A Little Blue Duo (1:35)

6                    II. Point by Point (2:07)

7                    III. Brevity (0:10)

8                    IV. Song of Murmurs and Moans (4:02)

9                    V. Music Box for Arnold (1:38)

10                VI. Salt Lick (1:08)

11                VII. PalinŐs Brain (0:05)

12                VIII. Evening Prayer (3:38)

13                IX. A Little Bluer Duo (1:53)


14   Fanatical Dances (1992) (10:19)             Andrew Rindfleisch

           For violin, cello, flute (alto/bass), clarinet (bass), piano, two percussion

           Zeitgeist with Christian Zamora, violin, Jim Jacobson, cello, Jane Garvin, flutes, Andrew Rindfleisch, conductor


15   Improvisation Situation (2008) (14:10)       Rindfleisch/Zeitgeist

           Zeitgeist with Andrew Rindfleisch, voice/bongos


16   For Clarinet Alone (2009) (8:48)                         Andrew Rindfleisch

           Pat OŐKeefe, clarinet



CD Personnel: Zeitgeist: Pat OŐKeefe, Woodwinds, Shannon Wettstein, Piano, Heather Barringer, Percussion, Patti Cudd, Percussion, Anatoly Larkin, piano (Night Singing only). With Andrew Rindfleisch, conductor/piano/bongos/voice. With special guests Jane Garvin, flutes, Christian Zamora, violin and Jim Jacobson, cello.



Lauded for providing Ňa once-in-a-lifetime experience for adventurous concertgoers,Ó Zeitgeist is a new music chamber ensemble comprised of two percussion, piano and woodwinds. One of the longest established new music groups in the United States, Zeitgeist commissions and presents a wide variety of new music for audiences throughout the country. Always eager to explore new artistic frontiers, Zeitgeist collaborates with poets, choreographers, directors, visual artists and sound artists of all types to create imaginative new work that challenges the boundaries of traditional chamber music.


Zeitgeist has maintained a fierce dedication to the creation of new music for the past three decades, commissioning more than 150 works and collaborating with emerging composers and some of the finest established composers of our time.




Known for its meticulous craft and remarkable expressivity, the music of Andrew Rindfleisch has consistently gained both popular and critical acclaim while garnering performances worldwide. With over 50 national and international awards honoring his music (including the Rome Prize, the Guggenheim Fellowship, and the Aaron Copland Award), Mr. Rindfleisch has consistently produced innovative works for the concert hall, including solo, chamber, electronic, choral, wind, orchestral, and improvisatory compositions.


From multiple extended improvisations to the most elaborately-charted chamber music, this disk of the music of Andrew Rindßeisch, interpreted with the collaboration of the renowned musicians of Zeitgeist, displays the work of a multi-faceted composer, conductor, and performer whose imaginative bounty has called him to new musical means at every turn. Here, we have some of RindßeischŐs newest music, but music that nevertheless reßects interests and concerns that have occupied him for decades, and of the many facets of this music on which we might focus, those of improvisation and theatricality are, here, especially rich. Both of RindßeischŐs parents worked in the theater, so dramatic form and expression have always been a part of his life, and as for improvisation, each of the works on on the continuum between, on one side, the explicitness of what have become the conventional notational assumptions of the Euro-american concert-music tradition, and, on the other, a radically free improvisation.


On the end closest to full pre-determination, we Ţnd Night Singing. From the start, the urgency that begins in the clarion call of that clarinet, might seem to belie the gradual dissolution that follows, all in the three minutes of that Ţrst movement, but itŐs an urgency that becomes that hour of the fall of a night, a night in which whatŐs to come -- the lonely tolling of the bells, the dreams of Bach, and the hornŐs cry -- will be calling again, recalling, Ţrst, a ritual proto-musicŐs ring, then a dream of a music of which, for its majesty and subtlety, so many now still dream, and Ţnally, the solo moaning remains of a martial music, a reed-horn with an echo of drums, crying as it remembers, back in the day before the night, its call to the hunt, then to arms, to a battle that now, in the darkness, has left it alone, a single survivor, with no response.


The evocation of such visions, memories, and dreams is just one possibility of what the music of Andrew Rindßeisch, with its timbral splendor, the energy of its ensemble interaction, and the supple rhythmic shape of a phrase, can elicit in a listener. But there is so much more:  in his reminiscence of Bach, drawn out of and into the context of less regular and less familiar harmonic materials, the familiar Baroque tension between the modal and the tonal takes on a new cast --  to say itŐs something like a Newtonian physics in a post-Einstein age is not a perfect analogy,but it is at least suggestive of the leap in perspective that such an unexpectedly-enfolding  context can provide. Within sucha super-structural framework, hearing wispsof Bachian tunes through a twenty-Ţrst century looking-glass becomes neither pasticheor Ňeclecticism,Ó nor reminiscence, but rather an altogether new interpretation of a music we thought we knew. And so, likewise, does hearing bells.


By contrast, the Nine Little Improvisations are closest to the other end of the continuum -- that of spontaneous composition in real time, substantially free of the customary compositional indications of concert music. Taken together, in their great variety of texture and inventive interaction, the Improvisations show what happens when two musicians, composer and performer respectively, usually so differently enabledand constrained by the roles theyŐre most associated with and most often play, both become performer-composers, their collaboration now one of a different sort of interaction, in which neither has the luxury of out-of-time vision, contemplation, or technical dry-runs, while both have the responsibility of  real-time response, in which their developing interaction becomes a driving force of their imaginations. Considering the titles (mostly assigned post-performance/recording), who, in the context of such a delicate harmonic reŢnement, could be the Arnold of the Music Box? And with such articulative friction, what kind of Salt Lick could this be? And as for the particular Brain invoked, perhaps the less said the better (only in this one did the title come Ţrst), especially since the Evening Prayer Ţnds its winding way to an extraordinarily languid lyricism, one which seems never to be over till itŐs over, and the ŇBluerÓ of the Duos plays us out in the patterns of its deceptively familiar gestures.


In this context, itŐs a tribute to the accomplishment of the performers that theexpressive posture of the whatŐs by far theoldest work on the program, FanaticalDances, is so supple and free that a listener might Ţrst think that these dances, too, are entirely improvised. However, as the piece progresses, the textural continuity of the music makes the sort of stop-on-a-dime twists, turns, and tumbles, that only pre-composed music can manage, and the harmonic and timbral relations between large sections are such that the framework of the compositional design gradually becomes clear. Rindßeisch, who conducted the performance on this recording, tells us that Ňthere are improvisational moments in Fanatical Dances, but theyŐre really composed into it, a composed piece that breaks down notationally into improvisation at certain moments in the piece and then is composed out of the improvisation...Ó He goes on to say by example that in some places heŐs notatedregister and rhythm but not pitch, and in others, contour but not rhythm.


However, the composer reminds us that, whether improvisatory or not, his music comes out of a theatrical conception, and the group improvisation of the next track he thinks of as a sort of theater. He describes the impetus to his vocalization as a dramatic one, thinking of himself as a wild character on a stage, physically moving, dancing, speaking, screaming, and singing theatrically – that is, in inspiration, he considers it as much a theatrical  performance as a musical one, and he adds that the expressive impulse of his more-elaborately-notated music is similarly theatrical.


Starting with the sort of syllables musicians often use to demonstrate musical ideas to each other, and then soon moving towards a complex rhythmic continuity, Improvisation Situation offers us a likely unexpected and fantastical side of each and every one of the musicians who have been behaving, musically, sodifferently so far on this CD. ItŐs an improvisation that involves the whole group, in which nothing was written out save a short passage (say, 8 bars) in the slow music towards the middle of the piece where Rindßeisch sings with the bass clarinet. However, Rindßeisch conceived of the piece as having four sections, and talked with the members of the group about the character of each area and how it would work, and then, as he put it, after he initiated a direction for each, Ňwherever it went, thatŐs where it went.Ó However, as they played, he would be there to indicate changes in what and how the musicians would play, and thus each section would have roughly three or four spots at which he would either cue the musicians to begin, end, or change what they were playing, or, for his part, change the music he was playing himself and beckon the others to follow. Although both Zeitgeist and Rindßeisch came to the session with broad experience as improvisors, prior to the recording session, they had never before improvised together. And so we Ţnd in their work a dark and wild instrumental context for a spoken and shouted speech-syllabic improvisation: rather than abstract phonemes, the syllables seem more to have been extracted from some still unknown, but human, language.


In a microphone-mixing-mode that is practically Glenn-Gouldish in its aggressive reŢnement, the last track, For Clarinet Alone, offers us a record of  an unusually close audio observation of a performance/piece entity that itself, in its expressive ways and means, maintains an extraordinarily intense focus on the complex details of the sounds, both public and intimate, that a clarinet makes as itŐs played. RindßeischŐs score, composed for his long-time collaborator, Pat OŐKeefe, is marked pianissimo all the way through, but in this recording the miking is so close that the dynamic indication results less in a decibel level than an attitude towards articulation and projection. Rindßeisch himself took an active role in the editing and mixing of this recording, which was taken with Ţve microphones, each focused on distinct parts of the single instrument, and thus aspects  such as the timbral transitions effected via mixing represent once again a collaboration, this time between performer, and composer-as-sound-engineer. The successive distinctions between what happens between each pair of notes are among the most vivid features of the story here. But even more impressive is the achievement of the composer, and his performer-collaborator, who together, by way of their respective technical accomplishments, Ţnd the means to fascinate the listener while limiting themselves to such a restrained sonic surface. Although itŐs in a sense of the word quite different from that in which itŐs become customary to use it, this composition, its performance, and its recording, offer us a masterpiece of a sort we could still call minimalist.


So with this CD, we can enjoy new facets of the work of the extraordinarily broadly experienced performer, conductor, and composer that Andrew Rindßeisch has become: not only in improvisation, both vocal and instrumental, but also in his collaboration, both musical and theatrical, with the players of Zeitgeist, we discover singular qualities in a composer already among the most accomplished, productive, and distinguished of his generation.



Notes by Stephen Dembski


Stephen Dembski is a composer and Professor of Music Composition at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.



Credits and Acknowledgements


Producer:    All tracks produced by Andrew Rindfleisch

Engineer:    David Yost (Night Singing, Nine Little Improvisations)Reid Kruger (Fanatical Dances, Improvisation Situation)Matthew Zimmerman (For Clarinet Alone)

Mastering:  Matthew Zimmerman, Wild Sound, Minneapolis, Minnesota


Night Singing recorded on November 9, 2004, at Waetjen Auditorium, Cleveland State University, Cleveland, Ohio.


Fanatical Dances and Improvisation Situation recorded on May 19, 2008, at Sateren Hall, Augsburg College, Minneapolis, Minnesota.


Nine Little Improvisations recorded on January 25, 2009, at Waetjen Auditorium, Cleveland State University, Cleveland, Ohio.


For Clarinet Alone recorded on June 8, 2009, at Wild Sound Recording Studio, Minneapolis, Minnesota.


Design: Gusto Designs, LLC, Lakewood, Ohio

Notes: Stephen Dembski


Innova Director: Philip Blackburn

Operations Manager: Chris Campbell

Innova is supported by an endowment from the McKnight Foundation.


Special thanks to Timothy C. Beyer, Thomas Brodhead, Stephen Dembski, Vickie Peters, Melissa Vandergriff, and David Yost.


All composition copyrights owned by Andrew Rindfleisch (ASCAP)

All compositions published by Manzo Music, LLC :