Monday, July 30, 2012

Mark Anthony Turnage  Greek (1988) . . . one of this week's FEATURED NEW MUSIC VIDEOS.

The Avant Garde Project: Online Audio Resource . . . check out our FEATURED NEW MUSIC WEBSITE.

Gillian Whitehead  Five Bagatelles (1986) . . . it's one of our PYTHEAS EARFULS for the week.

The Menard Ensemble (Brisbane, Australia) . . . our FEATURED ENSEMBLE this week.

Monday, July 23, 2012

American composer Joseph Turrin is a greatly valued contributor to contemporary American musical life thanks to his wide-ranging activities as a composer, orchestrator, conductor, pianist, and teacher. According to The New York Times, "Turrin's music is nervous, loud, swift and aggressive to the point of violence. It is also beautifully made, negotiating its constant changes of speed and pulse with grace. His music is young - no past, only future." Turrin studied composition at the Eastman School of Music and the Manhattan School of Music, and has pursued a career that has always been multifaceted. As a composer, he has produced works in many genres. Writing about his piece Two Portraits (1995), Turrin says: "I composed the Two Portraits for the 20th Anniversary of the International Trumpet Guild. The first Portrait, conceived as a flugelhorn solo, is entitled Psalm. The soloist plays a soulful chant over a ostinato figure in the piano. The second Portrait is Incantation, and is for both trumpet and flugelhorn. This movement is in direct contrast to Pslam, with it's energetic and lively character and a good deal of changing meters. There are some strong melodic lines in the solo part which soar above the rhythmic excitement in the piano." Watch a performance of Joseph Turrin's Two Portraits played by Andrew Bezik . . . one of this week's FEATURED NEW MUSIC VIDEOS.

The music of composer Sebastian Currier has been performed worldwide in major cities such as Paris, Rome, Berlin, Munich, Frankfurt, Tokyo, Beijing, Moscow, London and Toronto. In the United States, his works have been performed in Carnegie Hall in New York, Symphony Hall in Boston, the Kennedy Center in Washington DC and Davies Symphony Hall in San Francisco. One of his most notable works Aftersong was written for the world-renowned violinist Anne-Sophie Mutter who, with pianist Lambert Orkis, premiered the work at the Schleswig-Holstein Festival, performed it at the Salzburg Festival, and subsequently toured with it and with another composition called Clockwork throughout the rest of Europe and the United States. Currier has received a Rome Prize, a Guggenheim Fellowship, several awards from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, a Friedheim Award, a Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts, a Tanglewood Fellowship, and has held residencies at the MacDowell and Yaddo Colonies. Commissions include Meet the Composer, Fromm Foundation, Koussevitzky Foundation, Barlow Endowment, Mary Flagler Cary Charitable Trust and the American Composers Orchestra. His works have been performed by such orchestras as the National Symphony, Gewandhaus Orchestra, American Composers Orchestra, EOS Orchestra and the San Francisco Symphony. Currier is currently on the faculty of Columbia University. Listen to an interview with Sebastian Currier . . . our COMPOSER PORTRAIT for the week.

A great degree of virtuosity is required for Derek Bermel's Coming Together (1999), for clarinet and cello. Coming Together is a quintessential Bermel work: humorous, gesture-based and demonstrating a keen ear for invoking the human voice. Commissioned by the Elaine Kaufman Cultural Center and Merkin Hall for Bermel and Fred Sherry, this short duo consists entirely of glissandi. Says Bermel, "I wanted to write a piece without any straight pitches, one which relied solely on gestural development, yet which would still be convincing and emotional." Bermel achieves this by specifying exactly where each pitch starts and ends and where each glissando occurs in time. This careful placement of tonal areas defines the structure and carries the piece forward. Listen to a performance of Derek Bermel's Coming Together . . . it's one of our PYTHEAS EARFULS for the week.

Writing about her flute concerto Aile du Songe (Wing of the Dream) (2000), Finnish composer Kaija Saariaho says: "I have been very familiar with the flute since my earliest pieces. I like the sound in which breathing is ever present, with timbral possibilities that befit my musical language: the instrument's body makes it possible to write phrases that go through grinding textures coloured with phonemes whispered by the flutist, which gradually go towards pure and smooth sounds. The concerto's title and the general mood of the piece derive from Saint-John Perse's collection of poems Oiseaux: "Aile falquee du songe, vous nous retrouverez ce soir sur d'autres rives!". The concerto is composed of two main parts: Aerienne and Terrestre. The three sections of Aerienne describe three different concerted situations: In Prelude the flute gradually pervades space and generates the orchestra's music, in Jardin des oiseaux the flute interacts with individual instruments of the orchestra, while D'autres rives compares the flute to a lone, high flying bird whose shadow forms different images played by the strings over the unchanged landscape of the harp, celesta and percussion. The first section of Terrestre, Oiseau dansant, introduces a deep contrast with the other material of the concerto. It refers to an Aboriginal tale in which a virtuosic dancing bird teaches a whole village how to dance. While writing this section, I was especially thinking of Camilla Hoitenga and her personality as a flutist. The finale - the second section of Terrestre - is a synthesis of all the previous aspects, then the sound of the flute slowly fades away." Listen to a performance of Kaija Saariaho's Aile du Songe played by flutist Camilla Hoitenga and the Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra, Jukka-Pekka Saraste conducting . . . it's this week's FROM THE PYTHEAS ARCHIVES.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

This Week at Pytheas [7/16/12]
[under construction]

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Patrick Harlin  The Mechanist (American Sketch #3) (2008) . . . one of this week's FEATURED NEW MUSIC VIDEOS.

The Cat Creature (1973) - Music by Leonard Rosenman - Film by Curtis Harrington . . . our COMPOSER PORTRAIT for the week.

Arnold Schoenberg  Das Buch der Hängende Gärten, op. 15 (1908-09) . . . it's one of our PYTHEAS EARFULS for the week.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Sebastian Currier  Almost too much, from "Verge" (1997) . . . one of this week's FEATURED NEW MUSIC VIDEOS.

Apollon musagète (1928) - Music by Igor Stravinsky - Choreography by George Balanchine . . . our DANSES PYTHEUSES for the week.

Leonard Bernstein  Benediction (Concerto for Orchestra, mvt 4) (1989) . . . it's one of our PYTHEAS EARFULS for the week.