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Best of 2015

Some great new discoveries and otherwise the usual company in abundance.

John Adams Absolute Jest · Grand Pianola Music San Francisco Symphony · Michael Tilson Thomas · John Adams (SFS Media)

Bang on a Can All Stars Field Recordings (Cantaloupe)

eighth blackbird Filament (Cedille)

Mahan Esfahani Time Present and Time Past (Archiv)

Morton Feldman · Erik Satie · John Cage Rothko Chapel [Gnossiennes, In a Landscape, etc.] Kim Kashkashian · Sarah Rothenberg · Steven Schick · Houston Chamber Choir · Robert Simpson (ECM)

Floating Points Elaenia (Luaka Bop/Pluto)

Kendrick Lamar To Pimp a Butterfly (Top Dawg · Aftermath · Interscope)

Steve Martland Band Martland (NMC)

Steve Reich Music for 18 Musicians Ensemble Signal · Third Coast Percussion · Brad Lubman (Harmonia Mundi)

Max Richter Sleep (Deutsche Grammophon)

Linda Catlin Smith Thought and Desire Eve Egoyan (Earwitness Editions)

Stephen Sondheim Liaisons: Re-Imagining Sondheim from the Piano Anthony de Mare (ECM)

Ann Southam Glass Houses for Marimba Taktus (Centrediscs)

Tennyson Like What EP (self-released)

Kamasi Washington The Epic (Brainfeeder)

John Williams Star Wars: The Force Awakens Gustavo Dudamel · William Ross · John Williams (Walt Disney)

reissues · remasters

Bernard Herrmann Obsession Special Archival Edition (Music Box)

The Spinners Spinners (BBR)

John Williams A.I. Artificial Intelligence Expanded Archival Collection (La-La Land)

John Williams Jaws and Jaws 2 (Intrada)

John Williams, Herman Stein, Hans J. Salter, Joseph Mullendore, Alexander Courage, Cyril J. Mockridge, Gerald Fried, Leith Stevens, Robert Drasnin, Fred Steiner and others Lost in Space 50th Anniversary Soundtrack Collection (La-La Land)

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Composers I Care If You Listen Media Music Journalism Percussion Performers Postclassical Toronto

Glass Houses for Marimba

My reviews of the launch and CD for I Care If You Listen.

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Composers Electronic I Care If You Listen Media Music Journalism Performers Postclassical Toronto

An Evening with Barrière and Saariaho

My review for I Care If You Listen.

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Chamber Choral Composers Electronic Jazz Orchestral Performers Piano Pop Postclassical R&B

Best of 2014

John Adams, The Gospel According to the Other Mary – Los Angeles Philharmonic, LA Master Chorale, Gustavo Dudamel

John Luther Adams, Become Ocean – Seattle Symphony, Ludovic Morlot

D’Angelo and The Vanguard, Black Messiah

Morton Feldman, String Quartet No. 1 – FLUX Quartet

Flying Lotus, You’re Dead!

Philip Glass, The Complete Piano Etudes – Maki Namekawa

Meredith Monk, Piano Songs – Ursula Oppens, Bruce Brubaker

Laura Mvula, With Metropole Orkest Conducted by Jules Buckley at Abbey Road Studios

Steve Reich, Radio Rewrite – Jonny Greenwood, Vicky Chow, Alarm Will Sound, Alan Pierson

Ann Southam, Glass Houses Vol. 2 – Christina Petrowska Quilico

tuku, moonday sessions:the black

reissues

Herbie Hancock, The Complete Columbia Album Collection 1972-1988 (rel. late 2013)

Odyssey, Happy Together (Expanded Edition)

Sly Stone & various artists, I’m Just Like You: Sly’s Stone Flower 1969-1970

Categories
Composers I Care If You Listen Media Music Journalism Percussion Performers Piano Postclassical

Radio Rewrite Is ‘Everything’ and Then Some

An excerpt of my review of the Nonesuch album for I Care If You Listen; full version available with a subscription.

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Composers I Care If You Listen Media Music Journalism Performers Postclassical

I Care If You Listen – FLUX Quartet Records Feldman’s String Quartet No. 1

Here’s my review of FLUX Quartet’s recording of Morton Feldman’s String Quartet No. 1, Structures and Three Pieces, over at I Care If You Listen.

Categories
Composers I Care If You Listen Media Music Journalism Performers Piano Postclassical

I Care If You Listen – Hamelin performs Feldman

I’m delighted to share my debut piece for the excellent contemporary classical magazine I Care If You Listen.

It’s a review of Marc-André Hamelin’s performance of Morton Feldman’s For Bunita Marcus at the 21C Music Festival in May. Have a look and let me know what you think!

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Anniversary Composers Electronic Funk Lists Performers Pop Postclassical R&B Soundtrack

Best of 2013

Eve Egoyan – 5

Philip Glass – Visitors

Kuniko Kato – Cantus

R. Andrew Lee – November

Laura Mvula – Sing to the Moon

Omar – The Man

Quadron – Avalanche

Thundercat – Apocalypse

Hans Zimmer – Man of Steel

Best archive/reissue:

Sly and the Family Stone – Higher!

Categories
Composers Postclassical

Not the Gospel According to John Adams

I’m not sure what art does. I know that it’s possible to imagine life without it. Anyone’s life would be horribly impoverished without art. Yet, it seems to me that if you really want to help people and improve their lives, the most efficient thing to do is to go right to the real issues, which are economic. And I think for artists to believe that their musical compositions, or their plays, or their poems or novels can have a really potent political effect is probably a bit overly optimistic.

– John Adams, interview for the Classical KUSC streaming broadcast of The Gospel According to the Other Mary performed by the Los Angeles Philharmonic, June 2013

Categories
Composers Mixtapes Postclassical

Steve Reich Keys, a Mixtape, Vol. 2

Steve Reich has often described the role of keys and chord cycles in his compositions. This retrospective treats Reich’s oeuvre as a meta-cycle of chords, using harmonic mixing to match tracks whose endpoints share a common key or subset of pitches.

Vol. 2 focuses on Reich’s earlier, longer pieces, and includes most of his major works not appearing in Vol. 1, with several being reprised. Vols. 1 and 2 are linked harmonically by the dyad F#-B, heard at the end of Proverb and the beginning of the second movement of Electric Counterpoint. Also, the dyad E-A at the end of Four Organs is found in the first chord of the third movement of Mallet Quartet. Thus, both volumes may be heard back-to-back as a 5 1/2 hour cycle.

Vol. 2 features several dominant-tonic transitions, a natural result given that Reich’s pieces often end on the dominant chord.

No alteration of the pitch of the original tracks was made.

Tracklist & Artists
(keys and/or harmonies at endpoints)

0:00:00-0:03:01
Electric Counterpoint, II. Slow (1987)
Pat Metheny
(F#-B dyad, A Lydian or B11/A in C# minor)

0:02:55-0:09:02
The Four Sections, IV. Full orchestra (♩ = 180) (1987)
The London Symphony Orchestra, Michael Tilson Thomas
(A Lydian or B11/A in C# minor; C# dominant, C#-F# dyad in F# major)

0:09:02-0:18:48
Drumming, Part IV (1970-71)
Ictus, Synergy Vocals
(C#-F# dyad in G# Dorian or C# dominant)

0:18:45-0:21:13
Sextet, III. (1984)
Steve Reich and Musicians with members of Nexus and the Manhattan Marimba Quartet
(C# altered dominant)

0:21:10-0:30:31
Three Tales: Dolly, VI. Robots/Cyborgs/Immortality (1998-2002)
The Steve Reich Ensemble, Synergy Vocals, Bradley Lubman
(C# altered dominant; Gsus7 in C minor)

0:30:07-0:36:42
Three Movements, I. ♩ = c. 176-184 (1986)
Chorus sine nomine, Tonkünstler-Orchester, Kristjan Järvi
(E altered dominant, includes Gsus7; Csus7 in A-flat)

0:36:38-0:52:04
Music for a Large Ensemble (1978)
Steve Reich and Musicians
(F minor; A-flat major)

0:52:02-1:07:13
Music for Mallet Instruments, Voices and Organ (1973)
Alarm Will Sound
(F minor; A-flat dominant in D-flat)

1:07:12-1:24:32
Eight Lines (Octet) (1979/1983)
Bang on a Can/Bradley Lubman
(C# Dorian; A-flat dominant in D-flat)

1:24:32-1:40:54
Six Marimbas Counterpoint (1973/1986)
Kuniko Kato
(D-flat; B-flat Aeolian)

1:40:54-1:46:56
Dance Patterns (2002)
James Preiss, Thad Wheeler, Frank Cassara, Garry Kvistad, Edmund Niemann, Nurit Tilles
(B-flat dominant; C minor)

1:46:53-1:58:20
Cello Counterpoint (2003)
Maya Beiser
(G Phrygian dominant, C minor)

1:58:21-2:19:55
Variations for Winds, Strings and Keyboards (1979)
San Francisco Symphony, Edo de Waart
(C minor, C Dorian)

2:19:55-2:24:35
The Cave, Act 3: New York City/Austin (April-May 1992), III. Who Is Hagar? (1990-93)
The Steve Reich Ensemble, Paul Hillier
(F dominant in G minor; D minor)

2:24:35-2:31:03
Tehillim, Part IV (1981)
Steve Reich and Musicians, George Manahan
(C dominant in D minor, A dominant in D)

2:30:42-2:38:28
It’s Gonna Rain, Part I (1965)
Steve Reich
(D major)

2:38:15-2:58:40
Piano Phase (1967)
Double Edge
(B minor; Esus7)

2:58:37-3:14:23
Four Organs (1970)
Bang on a Can
(E dominant; E-A dyad)

Compiled and mixed April 2013

Creative Consultant: Ashil Mistry

As it is intended for the study and analysis of the music of Steve Reich, this post falls under fair use. The copyrights for these recordings are owned by record companies Chandos, Cyprès, Denon, ECM, Linn, Nonesuch, Sweetspot and UMG. The copyrights for the music are owned by Boosey & Hawkes and Universal Edition. Please contact me directly regarding any copyright claim.

If you enjoy this music, please purchase the original recordings.