The soundSCAPE summer festival in Italy was founded in 2005 by Artistic Director Nathanael May, and each summer hosts composers, faculty, and student performers for two weeks of lectures, performances, and master classes exploring rich contemporary repertoire. This release, the second by musicians from soundSCAPE on New Focus, features new works written for the ensemble by composers Ricardo Zohn-Muldoon, Carlos Sanchez-Gutierrez, and Jesse Jones, all of whom have been key figures in the festival since 2014.
|01||After the End, jj.59|
After the End, jj.59
|Tony Arnold, soprano, Aiyun Huang, percussion, Thomas Rosenkranz, piano||7:59|
Flores del Viento IIIRicardo Zohn-Muldoon
|Tony Arnold, soprano, Lisa Cella, flute, Mark Fewer, violin, Aiyun Huang, percussion|
|03||II. Danza del Alba|
II. Danza del Alba
|04||III. Danza del Sueño Ligero|
III. Danza del Sueño Ligero
|05||IV. Danza Nocturna|
IV. Danza Nocturna
|06||V. El Río Pasa|
V. El Río Pasa
|07||VI. Danza del Fuego|
VI. Danza del Fuego
|08||VII. Arrullo de Muerte|
VII. Arrullo de Muerte
|09||Chance Forest Interludes: I. From point to line: Going out for a walk (Paul Klee)|
Chance Forest Interludes: I. From point to line: Going out for a walk (Paul Klee)
|Tony Arnold, soprano||0:48|
|10||Kikai no Mori: I. Tinguely|
Kikai no Mori: I. Tinguely
|Aiyun Huang, percussion, Thomas Rosenkranz, piano||2:44|
|11||Chance Forest Interludes: II. Genghis (Rodney Brooks)|
Chance Forest Interludes: II. Genghis (Rodney Brooks)
|Tony Arnold, soprano||0:57|
|12||Kikai no Mori: II. Genghis?|
Kikai no Mori: II. Genghis?
|Aiyun Huang, percussion, Thomas Rosenkranz, piano||1:04|
|13||Chance Forest Interludes: III. Follow the feeling of the piece; then wrestle it into being (Jean Tinguely)|
Chance Forest Interludes: III. Follow the feeling of the piece; then wrestle it into being (Jean Tinguely)
|Tony Arnold, soprano||1:08|
|14||Kikai no Mori: III. Machine with Chinese Fan|
Kikai no Mori: III. Machine with Chinese Fan
|Aiyun Huang, percussion, Thomas Rosenkranz, piano||0:56|
|15||Chance Forest Interludes: IV. I imagine myself as a machine. What would I love? I'd love to be bathed in oil (Arthur Ganson)|
Chance Forest Interludes: IV. I imagine myself as a machine. What would I love? I'd love to be bathed in oil (Arthur Ganson)
|Tony Arnold, soprano||1:41|
|16||Kikai no Mori: IV. Mandala Tequila|
Kikai no Mori: IV. Mandala Tequila
|Aiyun Huang, percussion, Thomas Rosenkranz, piano||5:30|
|17||Chance Forest Interludes: V. Rise above the weight of the world; show, with all your gravity, the secret of lightness|
Chance Forest Interludes: V. Rise above the weight of the world; show, with all your gravity, the secret of lightness
|Tony Arnold, soprano||1:34|
|18||Kikai no Mori: V. Machine with Wishbone|
Kikai no Mori: V. Machine with Wishbone
|Aiyun Huang, percussion, Thomas Rosenkranz, piano||1:51|
|19||Chance Forest Interludes: VI. The only thing that stays... is movement|
Chance Forest Interludes: VI. The only thing that stays... is movement
|Tony Arnold, soprano||0:34|
|20||Kikai no Mori: VI. Twittering Machine|
Kikai no Mori: VI. Twittering Machine
|Aiyun Huang, percussion, Thomas Rosenkranz, piano||2:20|
|21||Chance Forest Interludes: VII. From point to line: New Life on old soil. No here, no there. Only everywhere (Paul Klee)|
Chance Forest Interludes: VII. From point to line: New Life on old soil. No here, no there. Only everywhere (Paul Klee)
|Tony Arnold, soprano||1:10|
|22||Kikai no Mori: VII. Machine with Artichoke Petal?|
Kikai no Mori: VII. Machine with Artichoke Petal?
|Aiyun Huang, percussion, Thomas Rosenkranz, piano||2:04|
|23||Chance Forest Interludes: VIII. Poema 12 (Oliverio Girondo)|
Chance Forest Interludes: VIII. Poema 12 (Oliverio Girondo)
|Tony Arnold, soprano||2:47|
|24||Kikai no Mori: VIII. Things That Go...|
Kikai no Mori: VIII. Things That Go...
|Aiyun Huang, percussion, Thomas Rosenkranz, piano||4:09|
This second release on New Focus from the musicians from soundSCAPE highlights the cultivated programming of this Italian summer festival focusing on contemporary music. Two of the three works, by Jesse Jones and Ricardo Zohn-Muldoon, are narrative and text driven, while the third, by Carlos Sanchez-Gutierrez is inspired by visual art and shaped by the creation of musical systems. Throughout, the musicians from soundSCAPE perform with virtuosity and commitment, highlighting the richness of these scores, absent as they are of bombast.
Jesse Jones’ After the End, performed here by soprano Tony Arnold, pianist Thomas Rosenkranz, and vibraphonist Aiyun Huang, sets a text by poet Jonathan Brent Butler that darkly predicts the end of the world, with a hint of optimism about what comes next. Bell-like vibraphone notes suggest droplets of sound trickling down after a deluge, as the soprano takes stock of the aftermath with long lines characterized by ascending leaps. The piano joins the vibraphone, as their composite chords word paint the “bright needle of the sparrow’s song.” Midway through the piece, the rhythm becomes more regular and insistent, as the text reflects on where the cataclysm started, after which the harmonies soften and become hopeful with the prospect of renewal.
Ricardo Zohn-Muldoon’s seven movement Flores de Viento III for soprano, percussion, flute (Lisa Cella) and violin (Mark Fewer) sets poetry based on the mythical figure Quetzalcóatl, a Pre-Hispanic Mesoamerican deity. The work focuses on a myth wherein a rival god Tezcatlipoca tricks Quetzalcóatl into drinking too much mezcal -- tragic consequences then ensue. George Crumb’s influence is heard in the ritualistic opening movement, with short rhythmic motives passed through the instrumental ensemble and a varied palette of vocal sounds. “Danza del Alba,” scored for solo violin and soprano, captures the coercive moment that Quetzalcóatl is tempted to imbibe with slithering lines and forceful double stops. A short instrumental interlude for violin and percussion provides a segue to the inebriated dance itself, “Danza Nocturna.” The effect of the mezcal on the deity seems to be somewhat muted, leading not to a cathartic frenzy, but instead to one of intoxicated wonder, as short fragmentary motives are passed through the ensemble, framed at the beginning and end by whispered text. A persistent pulse in the percussion frames “El rio pasa," depicting the ceaseless march of time. “Danza del Fuego/Arrullo de Muerte” captures the dramatic moment that Quetzalcóatl, in his shame at the consequences of his irresponsible revelry, sacrifices himself in flames before his heart leaves his body to rise to the heavens, becoming the morning star. The most vigorous music of the piece captures the moment of self-immolation, giving way to an ethereal sustained texture that depicts Quetzalcóatl’s magical transition to immortality.Read More
On this recording, Carlos Sanchez-Gutierrez’s Chance Forest Interludes for solo soprano are interwoven between movements of his eight movement percussion and piano work, Kikai no Mori [… Ex Machina II] (itself an adaptation of ...Ex Machina for marimba, piano, and symphony orchestra). In Kikai no Mori, Sanchez-Gutierrez reflects on the artwork of “kinetic” sculptors Arthur Ganson, Jean Tinguely, and Iván Puig, creating what he calls “technological devices” -- rhythmic or structural mechanisms that integrate an element of “precariousness.” The first, “Tinguely," establishes a repeated motive, akin to a delay effect articulated acoustically, before rogue elements begin to infect its regularity. “Genghis” features pointillistic lines heard in rhythmic unison, widely separated registrally in octaves on the keyboard. “Machine with Chinese Fan” flirts with polyrhythm, never quite settling into a consistent statement of the 4:3 superimposition it obliquely suggests in its hocketed attacks. “Mandala Tequila” moves more slowly, with sustained accented notes creating a structural line that guides the ear through the movement over the percolating activity beneath. As with the other “machines” Sanchez-Gutierrez erects, this one eventually seems to interrupt its own internal logic, as a rolled chord crescendos into a clocklike texture to end the movement. “Machine with Wishbone” begins where “Mandala” left off, with a drier less sustained texture, while “Twittering Machine” features more extroverted music --- dramatic bass drum hits followed by poignant fermatas prepare a closing section that sends the pianist into the high register for a final moto perpetuo gesture. “Machine with Artichoke Petal” establishes a texture of music box like statements reminiscent of Messiaen, followed by rolled tremolos on vibraphone and marimba. After annunciatory high register chords, Sanchez-Gutierrez’s doubles the tempo for a final statement. “Things that Go” builds into a constant stream of accented pitches in quasi-unison between the two instruments, before they split, alternately pitting tumbling triplets in the marimba and punctuated chords in the piano against rumbling low register piano notes. The consistent texture continues to disintegrate before a startling final chord.
Tony Arnold’s performance of the interstitial Chance Forest Interludes lends a narrative frame, balancing the intricate ensemble movements with solo vocal music that covers territory from the conceptual (such as the modem connectivity sounds in “Genghis”) to the coquettish “Poema” to the flowing in “From Point to Line” and “Follow the Feeling.” Arnold and her colleagues from the soundSCAPE festival champion these pieces with insight, commitment, and sensitivity, and the works are sure to find their place in the repertoire of many ensembles.
– D. Lippel
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).http://www.screecher.com
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.http://www.bgsu.edu/musical-arts/faculty-and-staff/thomas-rosenkranz.html
A champion of contemporary music, Lisa Cella has performed throughout the United States and abroad. She is a founding member of NOISE, the resident ensemble of San Diego New Music. With NOISE she has performed the works of young composers all around the world including at the Acousmania Festival in Bucharest, Romania, the Pacific Rim Festival at the University of California, Santa Cruz, and as ensemble-in-residence at the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee. NOISE also presents a three-day festival of modern music entitled soundON. Lisa performs with Jane Rigler and Carrie Rose in the flute collective inHALE, a group dedicated to developing challenging and experimental repertoire for two and three flutes.
She is a faculty member of the SoundSCAPE Festival of Contemporary Music in Cesena, Italy and Nief-Norf in Knoxville, TN. She has taught at the Festival Internacional Cervantino in Guanajuato, Mexico and presented workshops and recitals at the Mid-Atlantic Flute Fair in Reston, VA and at the National Flute Association Convention.
Her undergraduate work was completed at Syracuse University under the tutelage of John Oberbrunner, received a Master of Music degree and a Graduate Performance Diploma from Peabody Conservatory with Robert Willoughby, and received a Doctor of Musical Arts degree in contemporary flute performance under John Fonville at the University of California, San Diego. She is an Associate Professor of Music at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County.
Violinist Mark Fewer leads a multi-disciplined life in music. Violin soloist, chamber musician, orchestral leader, artistic director, conductor, arranger, teacher, jazz violinist, recording artist and occasional radio host, he has performed worldwide to great critical acclaim. Described as "intrepid" (The Globe and Mail), "genre-bending" (National Post), "profound" (The WholeNote), and "freaky good"(The Gazette), he has performed around the world in halls such as Carnegie, Wigmore and Salle Pleyel, and is equally at home in recital venues such as Bartok House (Budapest) to Le Poisson Rouge (NYC) to The Forum (Taipei). As a soloist, he has performed with the symphonies of Vancouver, Edmonton, Toronto, Quebec, San Francisco and Melbourne, as well as with groups such as the Fodens-Richardson Brass Band (UK), the Zapp Quartet (Amsterdam), the McGill Percussion Ensemble, and as a featured guest with Stevie Wonder and his band. As a chamber musician he was a founding member of the Duke Piano Trio, has been a member of the Smithsonian Chamber Players for over 15 years, and was violinist with the St. Lawrence String Quartet at Stanford University, where he was Artist-in-Residence. As a conductor he has directed I Musici de Montreal, l'Orchestre Symphonique de Laval, the Newfoundland Sinfonia, the McGill Baroque Orchestra, the Guelph Symphony, the Vancouver Symphony and the choir Capella Antica.
Mr. Fewer has been Artistic Director of the SweetWater Music Festival for 16 years, and in 2019 begins a new appointment as Artistic Director of Stratford Summer Music. He is currently Associate Professor of Violin and the Faculty of Music, University of Toronto. He is a Juno and Prix Opus winner.
The music of Rome Prize- and Guggenheim-winning composer, Jesse Jones, has been described as "striking,...elegant and poised' (New York Times), "engaging,...eerie, and well-written' (Los Angeles Times), "fascinating," and possessed of the melodic earthiness of Britten' (New York Classical Review).
Performed extensively across North America, Europe, and Asia, Jones's music has been heard in venues such as Lincoln Center, Avery Fischer Hall, St. John's Smith Square (London), the Muziekgebouw (Amsterdam), Glinka Hall (St. Petersburg), the Paul Hindemith Foundation (Switzerland), the American Academy in Rome (Italy), and the St. Matthauskirche (Berlin), among others.
Jones has received commissions and premieres from many of the world's leading ensembles and soloists, including the Juilliard String Quartet, Ensemble Recherche (Germany), Scharoun Ensemble Berlin, the English Symphony Orchestra, Cochlea (Switzerland), and from Tanglewood, Aspen, the Barlow Endowment, and many others. Jones has also been awarded prizes and fellowships from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the Heckscher Foundation, and Aldeburgh Music's Jerwood Foundation.
Jones holds a DMA in music composition from Cornell University, and currently professes music at the Oberlin Conservatory. His music is commercially available on the innova, Albany, Equilibrium, Bridge, and New Focus record labels.http://jessejonescomposer.com
Ricardo Zohn-Muldoon was born in Guadalajara, México, in 1962. Literature has been a source of inspiration for many of his compositions, such as the extended song cycle Songtree, on poetry by Raúl Aceves and William Shakespeare, the miniature opera ÑinoPolilla, on a libretto by Juan Trigos senior, and the scenic cantata Comala, based on the novel Pedro Paramo, by the great Mexican author Juan Rulfo. Comala was selected as a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in 2011.
Zohn-Muldoon's compositional voice has also been shaped by a steady collaboration with the particular group of musicians for whom he writes, including Tony Arnold, Molly Barth, Stuart Gerber, Dieter Hennings, Hanna Hurwitz, Daniel Pesca, Paul Vaillancourt, and Tim Weiss, among others. On occasion, he has also collaborated with artists across disciplines, including cartoonist José Ignacio Solórzano (Jis), songwriter Alfredo Sánchez, PUSH Physical Theater, Garth Fagan Dance, and puppet company La Coperacha.
His works have been performed internationally, and supported by the American Academy of Arts and Letters, Koussevitzky Foundation, Fromm Foundation, Barlow Endowment, Guggenheim Foundation, and México's Sistema Nacional de Creadores de Arte, among other institutions in the U.S. and abroad. His works have been recorded on the Bridge, Oberlin Music, Verso, CRI,
Quindecim, Innova, Ravello, and Tempus labels. He studied at the University of California, San Diego (BA, 1986), and at the University of Pennsylvania (PhD, 1993), where his principal teacher was George Crumb. He is currently Professor of Composition at the Eastman School of Music. Previously, he taught at the College-Conservatory of Music, University of Cincinnati, and the Escuela de Música, Universidad de Guanajuato.
Carlos Sanchez-Gutierrez was born in Mexico City in 1964 and now lives in the New York tundra, where he is a Professor of Composition at the Eastman School of Music. He studied with Jacob Druckman, Martin Bresnick, Steven Mackey, and Henri Dutilleux at Yale, Princeton, and Tanglewood, respectively. He has received many of the standard awards in the field (e.g. Barlow Prize, Guggenheim, Fulbright, Koussevitzky, Fromm, American Academy of Arts and Letters.) He likes machines with hiccups and spiders with missing legs, looks at Paul Klee's Notebooks everyday, and tries to use the same set of ears to listen to Bach, Radiohead, or Ligeti.
It has to be said right up front: the music on After the End, which presents three new and recent vocal chamber works by the three contemporary composers Jesse Jones (b. 1978), Ricardo Zohn-Muldoon (b. 1962) and Carlos Sanchez-Gutierrez (b. 1964), is of a refined beauty.
All three compositions are performed by small groups drawn from the faculty of the soundSCAPE summer Festival of Contemporary Music, an institution to which the three composers have been connected in various capacities in recent years. Given this history, it isn’t surprising that the performers—soprano Tony Arnold; flutist Lisa Cella; violinist Mark Fewer; percussionist Aiyun Huang; and pianist Thomas Rosenkranz—seem to have an especially good rapport with the work. Their realization of this sometimes rarefied, open-textured music is delicately balanced and austerely sensuous.
Jesse Jones’ After the End (2017), which was commissioned by soundSCAPE, sets a text by Jonathan Brent Butler to music for soprano, percussion and piano. Jones describes the text as pessimistic—it’s after the end of the world, after all—but at the same time holding out the promise of renewal. The vocal line is haunting but not despairing, proceeding at a measured pace intercut with rests. The accompaniment shimmers in slightly discordant, downward cascades of piano and vibes.
Flores de Viento III (1990, revised 2013), is a work in seven parts by Guadalajara-born Ricardo Zohn-Muldoon. The composition is scored for soprano, violin, flute/piccolo, and percussion, and sets a series of poems, most of them by the composer’s sister Laura Zohn-Muldoon, based on the Mesoamerican myth of the feathered serpent Quetzalcóatl. Zohn-Muldoon constructs the music from concise, atonal melodic motifs that he varies and orchestrates as distinct splashes of instrumental color. By breaking the ensemble out into constantly shifting groupings of solo, duo, trio and quartet voices, he exploits the group’s timbral potential to its fullest. And the sheer variety of percussion instruments he employs—vibes, marimba, crotales, gong, congas, maracas and more—contributes significantly to the richness of the piece’s textures.
Mexican native Carlos Sanchez-Gutierrez’s Kikai no Mori/Chance Forest Interludes (2015) was given its premiere at the 2015 soundSCAPE festival. The work is a fusion of two separate pieces, Chance Forest Interludes for solo soprano, and Kikai no Mori for piano and percussion. When presented together, the interludes are inserted in between movements of Kikai no Mori. The interludes are virtuoso pieces that provide a relatively quiet tonic to the fragmented melodies and suspenseful, rhythmic intensity of Kikai no Mori. The percussion part encompasses pitched and unpitched instruments and even the piano itself, through various extended techniques—tone clusters, playing directly on the strings, holding the strings while striking the keys—is turned into something of a multi-voiced percussion ensemble of its own.
-Daniel Barbiero, 7.29.19, Avant Music News
No two ways about it, this is contemporary classical at it’s Sunday afternoon, arts council best. Driven by sound sculptors, call it high brow/long hair/egghead because it hits all those notes. Solid music from the next dimension for the studious.
-Chris Spector, 6.8.19, Midwest Record