Sunday, November 23, 2008

HurdAudio Rotation: Hippies, Accordions and Rigor

Terry Riley: Atlantis Nath. 2001. Sri Moonshine Music: 001.

Terry Riley: compositions, voice, midi programming, piano, synthesizer
Luc Martinez: sound design, recording
Frederic Lepee: acoustic fretless guitar
John Deaderick: spoken text
Nice Opera String Quartet

A late Terry Riley concept album and a frequent orbit in the HurdAudio rotation. This is a profoundly flawed creation and I wouldn't change a thing about it. Aside from the tracks filled with midi-esque timbres and the sometimes difficult vocal intonations of Terry Riley (not to mention the hippie overtones) one finds these hardened, well arranged gems that are revealed within the symmetrical sequencing of tracks. At the center is the pearl, the "Ascencion" for solo piano, that holds the entire creative journey in place and easily forgives the trespasses in taste (to the point of embracing them whole). The flaws become inspired details that the intellect is willing to accept along with all parts of the journey.

Pauline Oliveros: The Roots Of The Moment. 2006. Hat Hut: hatOLOGY 591.

Pauline Oliveros: accordion in just intonation in an interactive electronic environment created by Peter Ward

This is one from the unfathomable vaults of the Pauline Oliveros collection of recorded works. Originally recorded in November of 1987 this solo accordion music is the Pauline Oliveros sound that first greeted these ears at a live performance at the Portland Center for the Visual Arts around that time. Always a deep listener, Oliveros sculpts and thrives within the austere, sand-swept drone landscapes built upon the reedy just intervals of her accordion. And like so much of the music of Pauline Oliveros - it rewards the deep listening experiencer in unexpected ways. The sound yearns with longing and large-scale beauty.

Alban Berg: Wozzeck: An Opera in 3 Acts. Libretto by Georg Buchner. Live recording of the Peter Konwitschny production. 1998. EMI Classics: 7243 5 56865 2 7.

Chor der Hamburgischen Staatsoper
Steffen Kammler: chorus master
Philharmonisches Staatsorchester Hamburg
Ingo Metzmacher: conductor

It is possible to greet the Sunday morning sunrise without opera. But adding a little German opera rife with Viennese angst practically chases the solar one up with cries of "Ein Feuer! Ein Feuer!"

Like the inevitability of a new dawn, Alban Berg gave a forceful shove to nineteenth century operatic conventions at the onset of the twentieth. The music that helped make "rigor" into an academic buzz word in music faculties for decades makes for fantastic - if heavy handed - opera. Though for all its forceful presence, gravity and repulsion this piece is rife with several moments of striking tenderness and delicate arrangements. This recording gives Wozzeck every opportunity to display its dizzying tapestry of textures with a combination of "rigorous" performance and great live acoustics. It's amazing how Alban Berg's ability to bring out so many of Romanticism's excesses (to the breaking point of that aesthetic) has left such an incredible work in its wake.

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