Scott Wollschleger: Soft Aberration

, composer


Described as “evocative” and “kaleidoscopic” (The New York Times), composer Scott Wollschleger’s music is at times deconstructive, disembodied, and dystopic, anchored by his penchant for arresting instrumental colors. This remarkable recording features performances by soprano Corrine Byrne, trumpeter Andy Kozar, violist Anne Lanzilotti, cellist John Popham, pianist Karl Larson, Mivos Quartet, and Longleash trio. 


# Audio Title/Composer(s) Performer(s) Time
Total Time 67:18
Brontal Symmetry
Longleash: Pala Garcia, violin John Popham, cello Renate Rohlfing, piano14:27
Soft Aberration
Anne Lanzilotti, viola, Karl Larson, piano13:32
Bring Something Incomprehensible into this World - Part I
Andy Kozar, trumpet, Corrine Byrne, soprano6:41
John Popham, cello8:00
Bring Something Incomprehensible into this World - Part II
Andy Kozar, trumpet, Corrine Byrne, soprano3:27

String Quartet no.2 “White Wall”

Mivos String Quartet: Olivia de Prato, Josh Modney, Violins, Victor Lowrie, viola, Mariel Roberts, cello
Part I
Mivos String Quartet: Olivia de Prato, Josh Modney, Violins, Victor Lowrie, viola, Mariel Roberts, cello11:57
Part II
Mivos String Quartet: Olivia de Prato, Josh Modney, Violins, Victor Lowrie, viola, Mariel Roberts, cello7:31
Bring Something Incomprehensible into this World - Part III
Andy Kozar, trumpet, Corrine Byrne, soprano1:43

Described as “evocative” and “kaleidoscopic” (The New York Times), composer Scott Wollschleger’s music is at times deconstructive, disembodied, and dystopic, anchored by his penchant for arresting instrumental colors. Wollschleger probes timbre, instrumental relationships, and aesthetic implications to find transcendent moments in unique textures. Brontal Symmetry, the opening work written for the Longleash piano trio, is a sort of a puzzle. The work is comprised of a series of “discarded scraps” from other pieces, and Wollschleger introduces them, jumpcuts to other material, and comes back, playing a kind of memory game with the listener. The music itself careens between cartoonish, macabre, and mechanical — one could almost imagine it as the soundtrack to an avant-garde film noire. Soft Aberration, written for pianist Karl Larson and violist Anne Lanzilotti (who also produced the recording), is Feldmanesque in its temporal suspension, with exploratory phrases that are repeated with variation and framed with poignant silences. Wollschleger writes that the piano and viola parts project a “broken echo” of each other, striving to see in the other some mirror of their own material. The viola part employs white noise frequently, as if reaching for the shadow of full voiced music from a time before the piece began. He observes that this “broken echo” relationship imitates life, in which we are always trying to understand and communicate seamlessly with people with whom we are close, but “always missing each other a little bit.”

The solo cello work, America, written for John Popham, returns to the glitchy, machine-like repetition of Brontal Symmetry, mixing a panoply of extended techniques together in a schizophrenic meditation. White Wall, written for the Mivos Quartet, focuses on white noise techniques on bowed string instruments, similar to what was heard momentarily in Soft Aberration, as a foundation from which fragile harmonics and fleeting melodic fragments emerge. White noise is the starting point for the work, but for Wollschleger it also represents an aesthetic ending point, as a manifestation of “complete emptiness” or “the bleached out remains of something.” As Part 1 evolves, we hear more continuity to the fragile pitched lines and eventually they grow into a otherworldly dance, always refracted through a distorting prism. This too disintegrates as Part 2 draws to a close, ultimately returning to white noise, the ground for the entire work. Bring Something Incomprehensible into This World, written in 2015 for soprano Corrine Byrne and trumpeter Andy Kozar, is heard here in three parts, though it was originally in one continuous whole. Wollschleger explores the dynamics of duo writing and their invariable manifestation as some form of dialogue. In Part 1, the text is broken into fragments of single words and syllables, with the trumpet writing matching this deconstruction with disjointed cells of intervallic leaps, air sounds, wah-wah mute calls, and short scalar bursts. The occasional synchronicity of voice and trumpet timbres, what Wollscheger terms a “dirty unison,” creates a quasi “mutant offspring” hybrid instrument between the two. Part 2 explores more sustained pitches in the voice, with the trumpet playing flutter tongue ascending lines inside her sound. In Part 3, the vocalizing extends to the trumpet part for a whispering duet before the soprano closes this remarkable recording with two haunting descending minor sevenths, perhaps in a rhetorical question, or an oblique assertion, as we contemplate the present and the future: “this….world.”

All music composed by Scott Wollschleger, poublished by Project Schott New York (BMI).
The music on track 2 is published under the title Soft Aberration no. 2.
Tracks 3, 5, and 8 are published as a single continuous composition without movement breaks. Trackks 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 8 were recorded between October 2014 - November 2016 at Oktaven Audio, Yonkers, NY. 
Tracks 6 and 7 were recorded May 12 at Sear Sound, New York, NY.
Recording engineer: Ryan Streber
Editing, Mixing, and Mastering: Ryan Streber, Hans Hsu, Anne Lanzilotti, and Scott Wollschleger
Produced by: Anne Lanzilotti, Scott Wollschleger
Executive Producer: Anne Lanzilotti
Album Design: Traci Larson
Painting: May I have this dense, by Lisa Abbot-Canfield, used with permission from the artist
Photography: Anne Lanzilotti, used with permission
This album was made possible with support from the Alice M. Ditson Fund

Scott Wollschleger

Scott Wollschleger (b.1980, Erie, PA) is a Brooklyn-based composer of solo, chamber, and dramatic music. His distinct musical language explores themes of art in dystopia, the conceptualization of silence, synesthesia, and creative repetition in form. Wollschleger’s music has been described as “evocative” and “kaleidoscopic” (The New York Times) and Alex Ross recently noted that Wollschleger “has become a formidable, individual presence” (The Rest Is Noise). Much of his music features a sense of “timeless lyricism”, a quality that influential avant-garde jazz pianist and blogger Ethan Iverson described as “the highlight of the disc” in his enthusiastic review of Wollschleger’s Brontal No. 3 on Red Light New Music’s debut album Barbary Coast, a 2014 New Focus Recordings release. Wollschleger’s concert works have been performed across the US and the world, including the International Music Institute at Darmstadt, the Festival of New American Music in Sacramento, the Bang on a Can Festival at the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art, and the MATA Festival Interval Series. Following lightly in the footsteps of the New York School, Wollschleger received his Masters of Music in composition from Manhattan School of Music. Wollschleger’s music has been supported by grants and awards from the New York Foundation for the Arts, the Yvar Mikhasho Trust for New Music, BMI, New Music USA, and the Society for New Music. His music is published by Project Schott New York.


Longleash (Pala Garcia, violin; John Popham, cello; Renate Rohlfing, piano) is a group with a traditional instrumentation and a progressive identity. Inspired by music with unusual sonic beauty, an inventive streak, and a compelling cultural voice, Longleash extends a love of classical chamber musicianship to the interpretation of contemporary music, crafting performances that are both dynamic and thoughtfully refined. An “expert young trio” praised for its “subtle and meticulous musicianship” (Strad Magazine) and its "technical expertise and expressive innovation" (Feast of Music), Longleash has quickly earned a reputation in the US and abroad for innovative programming, artistic excellence, and new music advocacy. Longleash takes its name from Operation Long Leash, a CIA program designed to covertly support and disseminate the work of American avant-garde artists throughout Europe during the Cold War.

The trio balances a full performing schedule with commissioning and recording projects alongside their proprietary summer concert series and composition workshop, The Loretto Project (KY). Performance highlights include concerts at Experimental Media and Performing Arts Center (EMPAC), the Ecstatic Music Festival (NY), the Green Music Center (CA), National Sawdust (NY), Scandinavia House (NY), Trondheim International Chamber Music Festival (Norway), and the University of Louisville. Longleash has conducted lectures and workshops at New York University, Manhattan School of Music, University of Nebraska, Ohio University, and Hunter College. The trio's work on behalf of American composers has been recognized and supported by Chamber Music America, the Alice K. Ditson Fund of Columbia University, and the Aaron Copland Fund for Music.

Anne Lanzilotti

A fierce advocate of contemporary music, Anne Lanzilotti has distinguished herself premiering works by and collaborating with composers of her generation. An active composer-performer, Lanzilotti has been a guest artist with Alarm Will Sound, Ensemble Échappé, and the International Contemporary Ensemble (ICE). Lanzilotti teaches at University of Northern Colorado School of Music. As a scholar, she specializes in the music of Andrew Norman: her dissertation is an analysis of Norman’s The Companion Guide to Rome, showing the influence of architecture and visual art on the work. As an extension of that research, she created Shaken Not Stuttered, a free online resource that demonstrates extended techniques for strings used in Norman’s orchestral and chamber works. Lanzilotti has also published articles in Music & Literature and Neue Zeitschrift für Musik. A native of Hawai‘i, she is a co-founder and Artistic Consultant for Kalikolehua — El Sistema Hawai‘i, a free orchestra program for underserved youth.

Karl Larson

Brooklyn based pianist Karl Larson, praised for his “thoughtful” and “fervent” performances by The New York Times, is a sought after musician dedicated to the performance and cultivation of contemporary music. Larson has premiered works by notable composers including David Lang, Chris Cerrone, Scott Wollschleger, and David Rakowski. Larson has worked with many notable musicians and ensembles in his field and continues to seek out new collaborations and innovative projects. Recent collaborations include his work with Bearthoven, whose debut record Trios was released on Cantaloupe Music in May 2017, and Ashley Bathgate, with whom he released Restless, a record of Ken Thomson’s compositions, in October 2016. Larson is originally from McFarland, WI, and he holds degrees from Luther College and Bowling Green State University, where his primary teachers were John Strauss and Laura Melton.

Andy Kozar

A native of Pittsburgh, Andy Kozar is a New York City based trumpeter, improviser, composer and educator that has been called a “star soloist” (TimeOutNY) and has been said to be “agile as he navigated leaps and slurs with grace . . . he shifted between lyricism and aggression de ly” (International Trumpet Guild Journal). A strong advocate of contemporary music, he is a founding member of the contemporary music quartet loadbang which has been called “inventive” (New York Times), “cultivated” (The New Yorker), and “a formidable new-music force” (TimeOutNY). With loadbang, his playing has been said to be “polished and dynamic, with very impressive playing” (the Baltimore Sun), and that he “coaxed the ethereal and the gritty from [his] muted instrument .. . . and revealed a facility for shaping notes and color” (San Francisco Classical Voice). He is also a member of TILT Brass and has performed with new music ensembles including Argento Chamber Ensemble, Talea Ensemble, Ensemble Signal, Ensemble ACJW, Wet Ink, and Mark Gould’s Pink Baby Monster.

Corrine Byrne

Hailed for her “beautiful vocal timbre,” soprano Corrine Byrne has quickly become a celebrated singer and interpreter of repertoire from the Medieval to the Baroque era, and music by today’s most daring contemporary composers. Recent roles include Anna I (Die Todsünden), Lady Madeline (The Fall of The House of Usher by Felix Jarrar), Doctor (The Scarlet Professor by Eric Sawyer), Cathy (The Last Five Years), Gretel (Hansel and Gretel) and Anima (Ordo Virtutum). Byrne has made appearances with The Lucerne Festival Academy Orchestra, REBEL Baroque Ensemble, One World Symphony, Manhattan School of Music Symphony Orchestra, Plymouth Philharmonic Orchestra, Amherst Symphony, Lorelei Ensemble, the Carnegie Hall Chamber Chorus, and is a co-founder of Ensemble Musica Humana. Byrne was a finalist for the 2012 Career Bridges Grant Awards, the 2013 Classical Singer Magazine Competition, the 2015 Handel Aria Competition, and a semi-finalist in the 2016 New York Oratorio Society Solo Competition. She holds a B.M. from UMass Amherst, an M.M. from Manhattan School of Music, and a D.M.A. from Stony Brook University.

John Popham

Cellist John Popham is a chamber musician and teacher based in Brooklyn, New York. His playing has been described as “brilliant” and “virtuosic” (Kronen Zeitung), “warm but variegated”, and “finely polished” (The New York Times).

Currently a member of Either/Or Ensemble and LONGLEASH, Mr. Popham has performed internationally with groups including Klangforum Wien, Talea Ensemble, and the Argento Chamber Ensemble. He has appeared as soloist with the Louisville Orchestra, the String Orchestra of Brooklyn, the Red Light Ensemble, and the Kunstuniversität Graz Chorus.

Recent festival appearances include Brücken (Austria), Open Musik (Austria), IMPULS (Austria), the Vermont Mozart Festival, USINESONORE (Switzerland), Bay Chamber (Maine), the Contemporary Classical Music Festival (Peru), Lucerne Festival, and Klangspuren (Austria).

Dedicated to new music performance, Mr. Popham has worked with composers including Pierre Boulez, Tristan Murail, Steve Reich, Nils Vigeland, and Reiko Füting. The recipient of a Fulbright research grant, Mr. Popham spent the 2013/2014 academic year in Austria, where he studied the performance practice of Klangforum Wien and worked with leading figures in contemporary Austrian music: Beat Furrer, Georg Friedrich Haas, Klaus Lang, and Pierluigi Billone.

Mr. Popham is currently cello faculty of the Extension Division of Rutgers University. He received his BM and MM from the Manhattan School of Music where he was a student of David Geber and David Soyer and was awarded the Manhattan School of Music Full Scholarship. He has recorded for Tzadik, Carrier, New Focus, Albany, and Arte Nova records.

Mivos String Quartet

The Mivos Quartet, “one of America’s most daring and ferocious new-music ensembles” (The Chicago Reader), is devoted to performing the works of contemporary composers, presenting new music to diverse audiences. Since the quartet's beginnings in 2008 they have performed works by emerging and established international composers who represent varied aesthetics of contemporary composition. Mivos is invested in commissioning and premiering new music for string quartet, particularly in a context of close collaboration with composers over extended time-periods. Recent collaborations include works with Mark Barden (Wien Modern Commission, Dan Blake (Jerome Commission), Richard Carrick (Fromm Commission), Patrick Higgins (ZS), Sam Pluta (Lucerne Festival Commission), Kate Soper, Saul Williams, Scott Wollschleger and Eric Wubbels (CMA commission). Mivos is committed to working with guest artists, exploring multi-media projects involving live video and electronics, creating original compositions and arrangements for the quartet, and performing improvised music. The quartet has appeared on concert series including Wien Modern (Austria), Transart (Italy), Music at the Phillips (Washington, DC), Lucerne Festival (Switzerland), HellHOT! New Music Festival (Hong Kong), Festival International Chihuahua (México), Edgefest (Ann Arbor, MI), Asphalt Festival (Germany), and Aldeburgh Music (UK).

18 Sep, 2017

Scott Wollschleger CD Release Event for "Soft Aberration" 10.20 at Metropolis Space

Composer Scott Wollschleger celebrates the release of his recording Soft Aberration with an event at the Metropolis Ensemble space at 1 Rivington Street 2nd Floor in New York on October 20th at 7:15pm. The Mivos Quartet will play Wollschleger's White Wall off the recording and pianist Karl Larson will perform solo works as well. CDs will be available for purchase as well as light snacks and …

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