Sunday, June 13, 2010

HurdAudio Rotation: Intonation, Ideas and Dialogue

Lou Harrison: Por Gitaro: Suites for Tuned Guitars. 2008. Mode Records: mode 195.

John Schneider: guitars, national steel guitar
with -

Just Strings
T.J. Troy, Gene Sterling, Erin Barnes

Harvey Mudd College American Gamelan
Bill Alves: director
Caitlin Andrade, Jane Chen, Vicki Chen, Greg Jackson, Anna Lei, Julie Simon, Victoria Wu, Darryl Yong

Serenade (1978)
Suite No. 1 (1978-1992)
Suite for National Steel Guitar (1952/1992)
Suite No. 2(1978-1999)
Ditone Set (1978-2002)
In Honor of the Divine Mr. Handel (1991)

An almost painfully beautiful recording of acoustic guitar music. At times accompanied by percussion or a full gamelan in the case for In Honor of the Divine Mr. Handel. The harmonic territory of just intonation providing a primary interest for these just-preferring ears as the rich shades of consonance and dissonance do much to reinforce Lou Harrison's assertion that "just intonation is the best intonation." But this deeply beautiful harmony simply shades the true focal point of this music: melody. Composed in the period that followed Harrison's 1947 break-down after living in New York City for a decade, this is music written during his search for peace. Distilled to simple contours with a nod to a body of world music histories, what emerges is a singular, introspective and confident voice. John Schneider brings a great deal of sensitivity to these performances. Which also happen to be beautifully recorded and offered as a gentle salve to the contemporary ear. Music from another - and inviting - world.

Udo Kasemets: Pythagoras Tree: Works for Piano. 1998. Hat Hut Records: hat[now]ART 113.

Stephen Clarke: piano

Timepiece (1964) version 1
Tangovariables on the word TANGO (1986)
Timepiece (1964) version 2
3/7 D'un Morceau en Forme de Poire (1995)
Feigenbaum Cascades (1995)
Pythagoras Tree (1994)
Music of the First Eleven Primes (1995)

Music as idea. And complete faithfulness to that idea. In the case of Udo Kasemets' ideas, systemic process or adherence to mathematical expression is the impetus that sets things in motion. Stripping away drama and Romantic notions of expression in favor of the austere beauty of form becoming crystal or petals unfolding as a flower blooms. What the ear hears is a natural beauty. Often stunning in spite of its seeming indifference to the observer. Stephen Clarke brings a wonderful asceticism to these pieces that remains true to the ideas within each of these pieces.

Jaimie Branch/Marc Riordan: Duos. 2008. Limited edition CD-R.

Jaimie Branch: trumpet
Marc Riordan: drums, percussion

A welcome dose of the improvised sounds coming from the Chicago scene. Marked by restrained and focused interaction between two players entirely capable of bursting into a frenzy of activity at any moment. Their ability to focus for an extended sonic dialogue makes this interaction as rewarding as any in recorded history and probably more so than most.

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