ZOFO Plays Terry Riley

ZOFO Plays Terry Riley

Sono Luminus Blu-ray/CD

Piano four hands duo Eva-Maria Zimmerman and Keisuke Nakagoshi once again bring energy, virtuosity, and imagination to a composer’s work on their latest recording, a portrait of Terry Riley.

ZOFO arranged a few of the pieces on the album for four hands. Their rendition of “Half-Wolf Dances Mad in the Moonlight” is a powerfully incisive standout and “G Song” is supple and, given the breathlessly fast tempo, played with impressive rhythmic integrity. There is also a new piece on the CD, commissioned by the duo: the sprightly, syncopated, and surprisingly stylistically faithful Praying Mantis Rag.

The rest of the programmed pieces are from The Heaven Ladder, Books 5 & 7, collections commissioned by pianists Sarah Cahill and Gloria Cheng. The most expansive of these selections, “Cinco de Mayo,” is given a sterling rendition, filled with dynamic shadings, fleet passagework, and tightly knit exchanges.

Pointed up on the album is Riley’s versatility as a composer. While he can create churning ostinatos with the best of them, his connections to jazz, raga, and dance music of many varieties are just as prominently felt here as his status as an elder statesman of minimalism. Given their chameleon-like presence on previous recordings, ranging from Rite of Spring to Samuel Barber to David Lang, it is hardly surprising that ZOFO relishes in the eclecticism of the fare here. Recommended.

Program note: Orchestra of the League of Composers

Orchestra of the League of Composers

Miller Theater

June 11, 2015

Tonight’s program revels in diverse compositional styles, ranging from postwar neo-tonality to twenty-first century postmodernism. Diverse too are the backgrounds of the programmed composers. However, each of them has a connection to the League of Composers and/or ISCM.

Kaija Saariaho is an honorary member of ISCM, and has been featured on ISCM’s World Music Days. Saariaho’s Leino Songs, her first settings in Finnish, receive their New York premiere on this concert. Buoyed by an intricate yet lush orchestration, Saariaho’s Leino Songs require abundant flexibility and dynamic control from the soprano soloist. Surrounding the vocal line is a varied framework of supple glissandos, countermelodies, and shimmering textures.

David Felder has also been performed at ISCM’s World Music Days. On this concert, excerpts from one of his major works, Les Quatre Temps Cardinaux, receive their New York premiere. The piece is richly colorful, yet its employment of extensive resources – voices, electronics, and a large chamber orchestra, featuring an extensive percussion section – retains clarity and incisiveness. Soaring passages for the voices are countered by extensive and imaginative orchestral/electronic interludes.

Irving Fine, whose centennial we celebrate with the performance of one of his best known compositions, Notturno, joined the League of Composers in 1949. Notturno contains stylistic signatures and melodic sensibilities that ally him to postwar American composers such as Aaron Copland and Lukas Foss. Yet his is a strongly individual voice. If one needed any evidence that Fine deserves wider recognition, Notturno’s elegant craftsmanship and delicate poignancy generously supply it.

Morris Rosenzweig’s home base is at the University of Utah, where he is Distinguished Professor of Music. But he has long been involved with League of Composers, coaching and conducting performances by the organization’s Chamber Players. Commissioned by the League of Composers/ISCM, Rosenzweig’s A League of Notions receives its world premiere on this concert. Featuring frequent changes of meter and ebullient rhythmic gestures, the piece is filled with ricocheting counterpoint, intricate harmonies, and angular solo passages. A League of Notions is a lithe and lively celebration of the League of Composers.

–     Christian Carey (christianbcarey.com)

Program Notes

Les Quatre Temps Cardinaux (2013) is a work for large chamber orchestra, solo soprano, and solo bass, with electronics, featuring texts by four poets, Neruda (“Full Powers”), Creeley (“Spring Light” and “Buffalo Evening”), Gioia (“Insomnia”), and the central poem by René Daumal from which the work takes its title.

Each of the poems warmly affirms time positioning and varying qualities of light as central to our sensory and internal experiencing. The Daumal serves as the central poem, a cross, indicative of a transpersonal ‘Great Time’ around which the other poems turn, as specific markers of events on a more intimate, personal scale.

– David Felder

Composed in 1951 and one of Irving Fine’s most frequently performed works, Notturno for Strings and Harp’s romantic lushness departs somewhat from Fine’s earlier, neoclassic style. The work has been characterized as the composer’s own blend of the styles of Chopin, Mozart, and Stravinsky. Its three movements, “Lento,” “Animato,” and “Adagio,” share some thematic material; the slow movements each end with lyrical viola solos. Leonard Bernstein conducted  Notturno’s “Adagio” movement at Fine’s memorial concert in 1962.

– Jennifer DeLapp

A League of Notions (2015) was commissioned by the League of Composers/ISCM. The work, about 11 minutes long, is in one movement, more or less equally divided into 4 sections: Introduction/Fantasy, Scherzo, Clouds/Shadows, and Vivace. A League of Notions was written in Salt Lake, Sheridan, Montana, and New Orleans.

Many and sincere thanks to the League/ISCM for the commission, to the members of the orchestra, its director Lou Karchin, and to the conductor Scott Voyles for extending the opportunity to me to create this work and their willingness and dedication in bringing it to life.

– Morris Rosenzweig

Kaija Saariaho’s Four Leino Songs (2008) are a setting of poems by one of Finland’s most prominent poets, Eino Leino. He was the most important developer of Finnish-language poetry at the turn of the 20th century, and in his works combined symbolism, mythic tradition, and influences from Nietzsche with his own romantic concept of the poet as a truth-seeking visionary. The four songs, entitled “Looking at You,” “The Heart,” “Evening Prayer,” and “Peace” were written for the Finnish soprano Anu Komsi.

– Kaija Saariaho

Righteous Girls CD/Album Release Party

On July 10th, Righteous Girls (flutist Gina Izzo and pianist Erika Dohi) release gathering blue, their debut CD on New Focus RecordingsThe album includes my duo For Milton, written in memory of Milton Babbitt. There’s also music by Andy Akiho, Akinmusire, Pascal Le Boeuf,  Vijay Iyer, Dave Molk, Mike Perdue, Jonathan Ragonese, and Randy Woolf. I’m honored to be in their company and on this exciting recording.

There will be a release party on August 7th at 7 PM at Joe’s Pub (information and tickets here). I hope you’ll join us!

This Sunday – Performances in Newark and Montclair

This Sunday, I am having performances of my works in two places in New Jersey!

At 10:10 AM, Joseph Arndt plays Spiritual Variations at Grace Church in Newark.

At 3 PM, Sara Noble​ and Carl Patrick Bolleia​ perform “From Blue Symphony” at Montclair Art Museum​. Prior to the show, I’ll also be on a composer panel there at 2:15.

William Tyler: “The Sleeping Prophet”

Deseret Canyon, a collection of solo guitar pieces, is out now on Merge Records.

William Tyler on tour:

Jun 20 Buffalo, NY – Tralf Music Hall ^
Jun 22 Burlington, VT – Higher Ground ^
Jun 23 Portland, ME – Port City Music Hall ^
Jun 24 Boston, MA – Paradise ^
Jun 25 Providence, RI – Columbus Theater ^
Jun 26 North Adams, MA – Solid Sound Festival
Jun 29 New York, NY – Mercury Lounge w/ Ty Segall (solo acoustic)
Jul 09 Winnipeg, MB – Winnipeg Folk Festival
Jul 31 Happy Valley, OR – Pickathon
Sep 11 Ames, IA – Maximum Ames Music Festival
^ w/ Real Estate