This recording, by three members of the faculty at the soundSCAPE Festival in Maccagno, Italy, features works commissioned by the festival in 2012 by Oberlin Conservatory faculty composer Josh Levine, alongside canonic works by Webern, Rzewski, and Aperghis.
|01||Breathing Ritual (Inflorescence V) |
Breathing Ritual (Inflorescence V) 
|02||Transparency I |
Transparency I 
Four Songs, Op. 12 [1915-17]Anton Webern
|03||Der Tag is vergangen|
Der Tag is vergangen
|04||Die geheimnisvolle Flöte|
Die geheimnisvolle Flöte
|05||Schien mir’s, als ich sah’ die Sonne|
Schien mir’s, als ich sah’ die Sonne
|06||Gleich und Gleich|
Gleich und Gleich
|07||Curb Weight Surgical Field |
Curb Weight Surgical Field 
|08||Piano Piece No. 4 |
Piano Piece No. 4 
|09||from Récitations : No. 9|
from Récitations : No. 9
|10||from Récitations : No. 10b|
from Récitations : No. 10b
Notebook, Bedside [2003, rev. 2012]Richard Carrick
This recording, by three members of the faculty at the soundSCAPE Festival in Maccagno, Italy (soprano Tony Arnold, pianist Thomas Rosenkranz, and percussionist Aiyun Huang), features works commissioned by the festival in 2012 by Oberlin Conservatory faculty composer Josh Levine, alongside canonic works by Webern, Rzewski, and Aperghis. Rounding out the program are works written for the musicians by Richard Carrick and Mark Applebaum. These pieces are linked together by introspection and a finely considered approach to investing meaning with an economy of materials.
soundSCAPE facilitates the exchange of new music, ideas, and culture between musicians of tomorrow’s generation, providing an international platform for performances of new music. Now in its eighth season, the festival attracts composers and performers from around the world for two weeks of inspiring concerts, lectures, master classes, and workshops. Established in 2005, Nathanael May is its Executive Director.
The Chicago Tribune writes, “anything sung by soprano Tony Arnold is worth hearing.” Hailed by the New York Times as “a bold and powerful interpreter,” she is recognized internationally as a leading proponent of new music in concert and recording, praised for her sparkling and insightful performances of the most daunting contemporary scores. A first-prize laureate of the both the Gaudeamus International Competition (NL) and the Louise D. McMahon Competition (USA), Ms. Arnold has collaborated with the most cutting-edge composers and instrumentalists on the world stage, receiving consistent critical accolades for a voice of beauty and warmth, an uncanny technical facility, sterling musicianship, and riveting stage presence. “Simply put, she is a rock-star in this genre”(Sequenza 21).
Aiyun Huang enjoys a musical life as soloist, chamber musician, conductor, producer, researcher and teacher. Her past highlights include performances at the Weill Recital Hall, Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra’s Green Umbrella Series, LACMA Concert Series, Holland Festival, Victoria Hall in Geneva, Agora Festival in Paris, Banff Arts Festival, 7ème Biennale d’Art Contemporaine de Lyon, Vancouver New Music Festival, CBC Radio, La Jolla Summerfest, Scotia Festival, Cool Drummings, Montreal New Music Festival, Centro Nacional Di Las Artes in Mexico City, and National Concert Hall and Theater in Taipei.
Thomas Rosenkranz enjoys a musical life as a soloist, chamber musician, and artist teacher. Since winning the Classical Fellowship Award from the American Pianists Association, his concert career has taken him to four continents. His repertoire extends from the works of J.S. Bach to premieres of works written exclusively for him, often including improvisation into his performances.
The soundSCAPE festival, held annually in Maccagno, Italy, brings together scholars, performers, and composers for two weeks of lectures, masterclasses, workshops, and concerts. This program of seven works is titled “Inflorescence” and refers both to the arresting opening composition, Josh Levine’s Breathing Ritual (Inflorescence V), as well as the burgeoning of color and variety characteristic of today’s new music scene. Levine describes the aforementioned work (for voice, percussion, and piano) as the last in a series that develops freely but coherently and draws on a variety of found musical sources. His Transparency (PartI) is scored for bass drum, four triangles, and sandpaper; it is dominated by an almost ritualistic, slow series of rhythmic figures for the drum, each separated by silence sufficient to allow the contemplation of the instrument’s complex resonance—a sounding space that, in Levine’s words, tries “to teach the instrument to transform its body, to speak or even sing”. By contrast, Webern’s Op. 12 songs sound positively traditional—in the best sense of the word—in this context. Mark Applebaum’s Curb Weight Surgical Field is an etude in sound, where the voice (who produces tongue clicks, whistling, kissing sounds, and so on) seems to animate or color a complex series of sounds produced in the piano’s upper range (both conventionally, through striking the keys, and with a variety of inside-the-instrument efforts); though the work sounds a little old-fashioned (and not in the best sense of the word), a surprising timbre sometimes makes the whole enterprise worthwhile. In Rzewski’s punishing Piano Piece 4 the performer executes a number of virtuosic techniques to transform the piano into what the notes describe as “a huge sonic gong”. Georges Aperghis’s Recitations for Solo Voice, from 1978, partakes of a sonic terrain similar to works such as Berio’s Sequenza for voice, but holds up remarkably well to my 2014 ears. Although the recorded sound is sometimes too dry and the piano, in particular, sometimes sounds much too brittle (especially in Levine’s Breathing Ritual), these are expert performances of some very exciting and unusual new music. Singly and in combination, Arnold, Huang, and Rosenkranz are some of the best new music performers around, and their commitment to this repertory makes for readings that are unusually vivid and subtle.
- HASKINS, May 2014
(English translation follows)
SoundSCAPE est un festival italien de musique contemporaine qui fêtera ses 10 ans en 2014. Pendant deux semaines, chaque été, des musiciens et des compositeurs participent à des cours de maître, des lectures et des concerts. Ce disque, mettant en vedette les musiciens invités du festival qui forment l’ensemble à géométrie variable Musicians from soundSCAPE, explore de nouveaux terrains sonores pour trio de voix, piano et percussions. Les musiciens de l’édition 2013 du festival comprenaient la soprano Tony Arnold, le pianiste Thomas Rosenkranz et la percussionniste Aiyun Huang, cette dernière étant à la fois directrice du département de percussions et directrice de l’ensemble de percussions de l’Université McGill, à Montréal.
Les œuvres enregistrées sur ce disque, dont la qualité sonore est exceptionnelle, nécessitent une virtuosité de la part de chacun des instrumentistes; et ils sont à la hauteur. L’ensemble exécute avec succès les œuvres de Josh Levine (Breathing Ritual et Transparency), Anton Webern (Four Songs Op. 12), Mark Applebaum (Curb Weight Surgical Field), Frederic Rzewski (Piano Piece No. 4), Georges Aperghis (Récitations No. 9 & 10b) et Richard Carrick (Notebook, Bedside).
Nous avouons un certain faible pour les pièces de Josh Levine présentées sur ce disque, mais cet album est conseillé en son entièreté aux auditeurs curieux d’entendre un petit ensemble de chambre à la maîtrise redoutable de ses instruments. La musique en est fort agréable et la qualité de l’enregistrement montre qu’une grande attention a été apportée à la production.
soundSCAPE is an Italian festival of contemporary music that celebrates its tenth anniversary in 2014. For two weeks every summer, performers and composers participate in master classes, lectures and concerts. This disc, which spotlights the festival musicians who form the ensemble of variable instrumentation, Musicians from soundSCAPE, explores new sonic terrain for the trio of voice, piano, and percussion. The musicians of the 2013 [sic] edition of the festival are soprano Tony Arnold, pianist Thomas Rosenkranz, and percussionist Aiyun Huang, who is the director of both the percussion department and the percussion ensemble at McGill University in Montreal.
The works on this exceptionally well-recorded disc require virtuosity of each of the performers, and they are up to the task. The ensemble successfully performs works by Josh Levine (Breathing Ritual and Transparency), Anton Webern (Four Songs Op. 12), Mark Applebaum (Curb Weight Surgical Field), Frederic Rzewski (Piano Piece No. 4), Georges Aperghis (Récitations No. 9 & 10b) and Richard Carrick (Notebook, Bedside).
We admit to a certain weakness for the pieces by Josh Levine presented on this disc, but the entire album is recommended to listeners curious to hear a small chamber ensemble with formidable mastery of their instruments. The music is most agreeable and the recording quality demonstrates the great care given to the production.