Sound as Four, Sound as One

Anna Weesner has sent along her program note for Sound as Four, Sound as One, the work that the Daedalus Quartet will perform as part of the Wail of the Voice concert next Wednesday:

In clear connection with the title, this quartet opens with the sound of all four players in unison, a sound that is then quickly juxtaposed with the sound of one voice alone.  A basic notion concerning the many and the one, or the one and the many, informs much of this piece.  This expressive notion probably has a few different points of origin for me.  For one, I have long loved the sound of strings playing in unison in the register represented by the lowest octave of the violin.  There is something about the less-is-more timbral mix that occurs when violins, viola and cello play together in this range that has always sounded potentially gutsy and sort of heart-rending at the same time.  There is also a textural concern that I think has to do with wanting to explore questions about the role, or the “sounding meaning”, so to speak, of melody.  In addition to playing in actual unison, the quartet often plays in rhythmic unison, which may set off as meaningful other textural situations, such as when there is clear melody and accompaniment, or when there is one voice alone.  I also hope that there will be a sense of space in play, so that the louds and softs in the music might translate somehow as being equally concerned with feelings of near and far.  I imagine, for example, someone who is far away calling out loudly in contrast to a softly murmuring crowd nearby.  Or perhaps it’s a single person murmuring nearby and a crowd far away, roaring.

We’ve got the program order figured out for the concert, here’s the lineup:

Anna Weesner: Sound as Four, Sound as One
Daedalus Quartet

James Primosch: Piano Variations
Gregory deTurck, piano

– intermission –

Jay Reise: Yellowstone Rhythms
Samuel Lorber (scroll down), saxophone; Matthew Bengston, piano

George Crumb: Vox Balenae (Voice of the Whale)
Michele Kelly, flute; Tom Kraines, cello; Matthew Bengston, piano

The time and place again: 8:00 pm, Wednesday, March 28, in Rose Recital Hall in Fisher-Bennett Hall on the University of Pennsylvania campus. Fisher-Bennett is at 34th and Walnut. There will be a pre-concert chat with the composers, moderated by Penn grad student Delia Casadei, at 7:00 pm. An article by Delia about George Crumb here. More on the concert here and here and in future posts.

 

Yellowstone Rhythms

In anticipation of next Wednesday’s Wail of the Voice concert, here is my colleague Jay Reise‘s program note for his contribution to the concert, a work for saxophone and piano called Yellowstone Rhythms. It’s the first performance of the piece in this version.

Yellowstone Rhythms is in one movement and lasts about 15 minutes. It was inspired by the vivid and multi-faceted atmosphere of the dramatic and ever-changing landscape of Yellowstone National Park: variously hot and bright, cold and dark, filled with mysterious life and vibrant geological formations; sometimes agitated – even fomenting, and yet at other times seeming to exist in slow motion, evoking feelings of isolation and timelessness.

Yellowstone was originally composed for bassoon and piano and was premiered by Charles Ullery, principal bassoonist for the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, at the Grand Teton Music Festival in Wyoming in 1995. Mr. Ullery has recorded the piece with pianist Marc-André Hamelin (Albany Records). Ullery also premiered a version for bassoon and 10 instruments with the Network for New Music in 2001. It was described at that time in the Philadelphia Inquirer as, “Nature in its most songful state.”

The version being presented this evening was written especially for this performance by Messrs. Lorber and Bengtson.

That’s a reference to Samuel Lorber, saxophone, and Matt Bengston, piano.

More about the concert in my next post.