New Focus highlights composer portrait albums
From the first releases on the label, a core element of New Focus' mission has been to feature composers, particularly American composers who were deeply invested in building on a lineage of contemporary composition in our community. Several exciting recent releases continue this committment. Mikel Kuehn, a 2014 Guggenheim Fellow, released his Object/Shadow in November, featuring performances of his meticulous, multi-layered music by Ensemble Dal Niente, Gregory Beyer, Craig Hultgren, and Daniel Lippel. David Smooke's eclectic music highlights his broad range, incorporating microtonal elements, a sophisticated approach to minimalist repetition, and deft orchestration into his composition. His "Nutshell Studies of Unexplained Death", released in October, includes his own performances on toy piano, a performance by the acclaimed Loadbang Ensemble, and a work for the Peabody Wind Ensemble, where Smooke is on faculty. The New York based TAK Ensemble released a riveting portrait CD of the music of Taylor Brook, "Ecstatic Music", that was featured as album of the week on Q2 Music, WQXR's division devoted to contemporary repertoire.
Coming in 2017, New Focus will release an album of the music of Carl Schimmel, recorded with the support of a Copland Fund for Recording grant in 2014. Schimmel's music possesses a Haydnesque wit, a penchant for literary references and inspirations and mathematical structures, and a wonderful flair for character.