METAFAGOTE, bassoon virtuoso Rebekah Heller’s second release on the International Contemporary Ensemble’s (ICE) in-house imprint TUNDRA, is an album that explores and inverts the raw sound of the solo bassoon using electronics, spatialization, and powerful melodic writing. The recording features four landmark works for the instrument written for Heller by luminary composers Jason Eckardt, Felipe Lara, Rand Steiger, and Dai Fujikura, all heard here in their premiere recordings.
|01||Concatenation (2013) for bassoon and live electronic|
Concatenation (2013) for bassoon and live electronic
|02||Following (2014) for solo bassoon|
Following (2014) for solo bassoon
|03||A Compendium of Catskill Native Botanicals, from Book 2: Asarum canadense, “Wild Ginger"|
A Compendium of Catskill Native Botanicals, from Book 2: Asarum canadense, “Wild Ginger"
|04||Metafagote (2015) for solo bassoon and 6 pre-recorded bassoons|
Metafagote (2015) for solo bassoon and 6 pre-recorded bassoons
METAFAGOTE, bassoon virtuoso Rebekah Heller’s second release on the International Contemporary Ensemble’s (ICE) in-house imprint TUNDRA, is an album that explores and inverts the raw sound of the solo bassoon, using electronics, spatialization and powerful melodic writing. The recording features four landmark works for the instrument written for Heller by luminary composers Jason Eckardt, Felipe Lara, Rand Steiger, and Dai Fujikura, all heard here in their premiere recordings. About his work for bassoon and live electronics processing, Concatenation, Rand Steiger writes, “Concatenation revisits an approach I have explored in previous solo pieces that I call “nested etudes,” in which a set of contrasting materials, any one of which could have been the subject of an etude, are laid out and interwoven into a continuous conversation. In this piece, there are seven different kinds of material, each with a unique approach to signal processing.” After each “character” is introduced in its own exposition, as the piece evolves, the different kinds of material begin an increasingly interwoven dialogue with each other. Dai Fujikura’s Following is a follow up work to his earlier piece, the evocative Calling also written for Heller in 2011. This newer lyrical piece stands in contrast to the bracing, multiphonics-heavy earlier work. Jason Eckardt’s A Compendium of Catskill Native Botanicals, Asarum canadense, “Wild Ginger” slithers around microtonal melodic fragments, evoking a ritualistic chant. Eckardt resides in the Catskill Mountain region north of New York City, and this sonic meditation on botanic species found near his home is consistent with his engagement and reverence for the natural and the indigenous in many of his works. On the title track, Brazilian born Felipe Lara explores how layering bassoon upon bassoon - seven bassoons total - can create a new instrument entirely, or, a Metafagote (fagote being the word for bassoon in Felipe's native Portuguese). All four works, major and exciting additions to the solo bassoon repertoire, were written for and with Rebekah Heller through a deep and meaningful collaborative process with each composer.
Producer: Jacob Greenberg (track 1, 3, 4) Ryan Streber (Track 3)
Recording engineer, mix, mastering: Ryan Streber
Recorded at: Oktaven Audio, Mt. Vernon, NY oktavenaudio.com
Design: Paul Read pauljamesread.com
Photo by Carrie Schneider carrieschneider.com
Praised for her “flair” and “deftly illuminated” performances by The New York Times, bassoonist Rebekah Heller is a uniquely dynamic chamber, orchestral and solo musician. Equally comfortable playing established classical works and the newest of new music, Rebekah is a fiercely passionate advocate for the bassoon. Called an "impressive solo bassoonist" by The New Yorker, she is tirelessly committed to collaborating with composers to expand the modern repertoire for the instrument.
As a member of the renowned International Contemporary Ensemble (ICE), Rebekah has played concerts all over the world. She has been a featured soloist with the Seattle Symphony Orchestra, and has played solo works in cities both near and far - including São Paolo, Rio, Paris, Berlin, Köln, Chicago, New York, Boston, Minneapolis, and many more.
Before moving to New York, Rebekah completed a one-year appointment as Principal Bassoonist of the Jacksonville Symphony and has served as Principal Bassoonist with the Atlanta Opera Orchestra, and the Utah Festival Opera.
From 2005-2008, Rebekah was a member of the New World Symphony in Miami Beach, Florida. During her time there, she worked with some of today's most innovative and electrifying musical minds, including Michael Tilson Thomas, Robert Spano, Marin Alsop, Oliver Knussen, Yo-Yo Ma and Christian Tetzlaff.
Rand Steiger’s music has been commissioned and performed by many ensembles, including the American Composers Orchestra, Boston Musica Viva, Ensemble Intercontemporain, International Contemporary Ensemble, Lontano, Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, NYNME, Prism Quartet, San Diego Symphony, San Francisco Contemporary Music Players, St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, Talea Ensemble, and the Los Angeles Philharmonic, where he served as Composer Fellow. Soloists he has composed for include Matthew Barley, Maya Beiser, Claire Chase, Daniel Druckman, Peter Evans, Alan Feinberg, George Lewis, Mark Menzies, Susan Narucki, Vicki Ray, and Steven Schick.Throughout his career, Steiger has been involved in computer music research, having held three residencies at IRCAM, and enjoying a long fruitful collaboration with Miller Puckette, the leading computer music researcher of his generation. He was Composer-in-Residence at the California Institute for Telecommunications and Information Technology from 2010 to 2013. Many of Steiger’s works combine orchestral instruments with real-time digital audio signal processing. They also propose a hybrid approach to just and equal-tempered tuning, exploring the delicate perceptual cusp between a harmony and a timbre that occurs when tones are precisely tuned. Some examples of works deploying these techniques include: Ecosphere, developed during residencies at Ircam and premiered by the Ensemble Intercontemporain in Paris; Traversing, written for cellist Mathew Barley and premiered by the Southbank Sinfonia in London; Cryosphere, premiered by the American Composers Orchestra at Carnegie Hall, A Menacing Plume, premiered by the Talea Ensemble in New York, and the Coalescence Cycle, premiered on a portrait concert at Miller Theater in New York by the International Contemporary Ensemble in 2013. He is currently working on string quartets with electronics for the Flux and JACK quartets.
Dai Fujikura was born in 1977 in Osaka, Japan. He was fifteen when he moved to UK to complete his secondary education. His studies continued in college, where, during his sophomore year, he won the Serocki International Composers Competition. Since then, he has been awarded many other important prices including the Royal Philharmonic Society Award, Otaka Prize, Akutagawa Composition Award, WIRED Audi Innovation Award, the Paul Hindemith Prize, and The Silver Lion Award from Venice Biennale 2017. His works include operas, orchestral pieces, ensemble works, chamber music, and film scores.
Having received numerous international co-commissions, Dai Fujikura’s music has been performed in Europe, Asia, and North and South America. He recently held the composer-in-residence position at Nagoya Philharmonic Orchestra. He has received two BBC Proms commissions, his “Double Bass Concerto” was premiered by the London Sinfonietta, and in 2013 the BBC Symphony Orchestra gave the UK premiere of his "Atom". Suntory Hall hosted a portrait concert of his orchestral music in 2012. Fujikura’s "Tocar y Luchar" was premiered under the baton of Gustavo Dudamel with the Simón Bolívar Youth Orchestra in Venezuela in 2011.
Fujikura has also received performances and commissions from Bamberg Symphony, Munich Chamber Orchestra, Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France, Philharmonia Orchestra, Tokyo Philharmonic, Chicago Symphony Orchestra, New Japan Philharmonic, and Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, among many others. He has collaborated with Ensemble Modern, Arditti Quartet, Ensemble Intercontemporain, International Contemporary Ensemble (ICE), Oslo Sinfonietta, Asko Ensemble, Klangforum Wien, and Bit20 Ensemble. Ultraschall Berlin, Lucerne Festival, Salzburg Festival, Punkt Festival, Spoleto Festival, NHK Symphony Orchestra, Yomiuri Nippon Symphony Orchestra, Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival, and Tanglewood Festival have all programmed his music, and his works have been conducted by many conductors including Pierre Boulez, Peter Eötvös, Jonathan Nott, Kazuki Yamada, Martyn Brabbins, Peter Rundel, and Alexander Liebreich.
Dai Fujikura’s first opera Solaris, a co-commission by Théâtre des Champs-Elysées, Opéra de Lille, Opéra de Lausanne, Ircam-Centre Pompidou, and Ensemble Intercontemporain, had its world premiere in Paris 2015. The multimedia production which included dance, electronics, and 3D film was directed by Saburo Teshigawara who also wrote the libretto. The opera is based Stanisław Lem’s famous science fiction novel of the same name. Theatre Augusburg will present a new production of Solaris for the German premiere in May 2018.
Fujikura’s debut solo album, Secret Forest was produced by NMC Recordings in 2012. Since then, he’s had numerous albums produced including Mirrors which features four of his orchestral works, Ice, on the Kairos label, and most recently, my letter to the world, named for his song cycle, which he produced on his own label, Minabel in collaboration with SONY Japan. For a complete list of his recordings, visit http://www.daifujikura.com/un/discography.html.
Fujikura also has strong connections to the experimental pop/jazz/improvisation world. His co-composition with Ryuichi Sakamoto, peripheral movement for electronics, premiered in Hakuju Hall in Japan in 2013, and his collaborative works with David Sylvian were recorded for Sylvian's album Died in the Wool. Jan Bang released an album on Jazzland records, which featured Fujikura’s collaborations with Jan Bang and Sidsel Endresen.
Recently, Dai has been named the artistic director of the Born Creative Festival in Tokyo Metropolitan Theater for 2017. He will take the positions of composer-in-residence at the Orchestre national d'Île-de-France, and artist-in-residence at The Philharmonic Chorus of Tokyo beginning in 2017. He is currently preparing for his second opera, The Gold-Bug, which will premiere in March 2018 in Basel. His orchestra work, Glorious Clouds which was co-commissioned by Nagoya Philharmonic, WDR Sinfonieorchester Köln, and Orchestre national d'Île-de-France, will be premiered in Japan in 2017, followed performances France and Germany.
Dai Fujikura is published by Ricordi Berlin.
Jason Eckardt played guitar in jazz and metal bands until he first heard the music of Webern, and then he immediately devoted himself to composition. Since then, his music has been influenced by his interests in perceptual complexity, the physicality of performance and the natural world. He has been recognized through commissions from Carnegie Hall, Tanglewood, the Koussevitzky Foundation, the Guggenheim Museum, the Fromm Foundation at Harvard University (1996, 2008), Chamber Music America, the New York State Music Fund, Meet the Composer, the Oberlin Conservatory and percussionist Evelyn Glennie; awards from the League of Composers/ISCM (National Prize), Deutschen Musikrat-Stadt Wesel (Symposium NRW Prize), the Aaron Copland Fund, the New York State Council on the Arts, ASCAP, the University of Illinois (Martirano Prize), the Alice M. Ditson Fund and Columbia University (Rapoport Prize); and fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the Rockefeller Foundation, Fondation Royaumont, the MacDowell and Millay Colonies, the National Foundation for Advancement in the Arts, the Fritz Reiner Center for Contemporary Music, the Composers Conference at Wellesley, the Atlantic Center for the Arts and the Yvar Mikhashoff Trust for New Music. His music is published by Carl Fischer.
Praised by the New York Times as "a gifted Brazilian-American modernist" whose works are “brilliantly realized”, “technically formidable, wildly varied”, and possess “voluptuous, elemental lyricism”, Felipe Lara’s work — which includes orchestral, chamber, vocal, film, electroacoustic, and popular music—engages in producing new musical contexts by means of (re)interpreting and translating acoustical and extra-musical properties of familiar source sonorities into project-specific forces. He often aspires to create self-similar relationships between the macro and micro-articulation of the musical experience and highlights the interdependence of acoustic music composition and technology, including the application of electroacoustic paradigms as catalysts for both entire structures and local textures.His music has been recently commissioned by leading soloists, ensembles, and institutions such as the Arditti Quartet (with ExperimentalStudio Freiburg SWR), Brentano Quartet (with Hsin-Yung Huang), Claire Chase, Conrad Tao, Donaueschinger Musiktage, Duo Diorama, Ensemble InterContemporain, Ensemble Modern, Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra, International Contemporary Ensemble, Los Angeles Philharmonic, Ogni Suono, Rebekah Heller, and São Paulo Symphony Orchestra (Osesp).
They say that if you live long enough, you’ll hear things you never imagined possible. This is one of them. Any preconceived notions you may have had about bassoon music are blown clear out the windows by this new release, for Rebekah Heller and her bad-ass bassoon (just look at her attitude on the cover!) are here to explode them.
The music is modern, challenging, and best of all, interesting. Four composers with a single directive, to write music for solo bassoon and electronics, all responded with different and very imaginative settings. I can’t say that any of this music is easy or accessible, for it is not. On the contrary, it’s rather forbidding; but it’s well constructed, interesting, and stretches the instrument to entirely new limits.
Rand Steiger’s Concatenation, which opens the recital, sets the bassoon in an echo chamber, occasionally using feedback, echo effects and distortion to propel his ideas. The composer has described this work as one where “a set of contrasting materials, any one of which could have been the subject of an etude, are laid out and interwoven into a continuous conversation. In this piece, there are seven different kinds of material,” and as each character is introduced the different kinds of material “begin an increasingly interwoven dialogue with each other.” My lone complaint was that, in the closing two minutes of the piece, it became so deconstructed that even I had some trouble following it.
Next up is Dai Fujikura’s Following. This is surprisingly lyrical, and in fact includes no electronics at all. It gives Heller a chance to show just how good she is on the bassoon; her tone is so pure here that most of the time it sounds like an alto saxophone, and a very fine one at that (think Johnny Hodges or Jimmy Dorsey). Although lyrical, the piece is also quite daring harmonically, but Fujikara never loses sight of the long line of the music and holds the listener’s interest from start to finish. There is also some real invention and development going on here, which makes the performance all the more interesting.
By contrast, Jason Eckardt’s A Compendium of Catskill Native Botanicals, Asarum canadense, “Wild Ginger” uses microtones and snippets of melody which simulate the feeling of ritual chanting. This, too, is played without any electronics or overdubs. In this piece, Heller’s tone surely does not resemble anything but a bassoon. The music also includes several surprising “dead stops” in which one assumes the music is over, yet it continues to go on and develop.
The last piece is perhaps the most complex. Felipe Lara layers seven bassoons in all, six of them pre-recorded, bookended by the sound of waves rushing up on the shore. Some of the pre-recorded bassoons are sped up in order to enhance the upper range of the instrument, and there are also some odd “knocking” sounds thrown in for good measure. Slithering, rising chromatics are heard just before the four-minute mark, enhancing an already strange musical experience. Later on, at about 6:30, a sort of reverb-echo effect is achieved by having the pre-recorded bassoons overlap sustained B-flats in almost a hocket style while the “live” bassoon plays stabbing figures in and around them. Later on the background bassoons play varying figures while the live one distorts tones and plays somewhat microtonally. Eventually the interaction becomes quite complex, the background bassoons almost sounding like a choir behind a vocal soloist. It’s a very odd piece, but also a very interesting one.
By and large, this is a fascinating release, and each piece is the world premiere recording. If nothing else, it should expand the minds of listeners and other composers as to the timbral and technical possibilities of the bassoon, and instrument that, too often, gets no respect.
—© Lynn René Bayley, Art Music Lounge, 12.8.2017
Bassoonist Rebekah Heller, a member of ICE, released Metafagote, her second solo album, in 2017 on Tundra. Featuring premiere recordings of four works written for Heller by Rand Steiger (Concatenation), Dai Fujikura (Following), Jason Eckardt (Wild Ginger), and the title composition by Felipe Lara, Megafagote supplies Heller with ample opportunities to demonstrate the bassoon’s entire bag of extended techniques, from multiphonics to microtonality, as well as various live electronic manipulations. That said, one never feels that the plethora of effects on display are mere showpieces; all four composers are working on extending the bounds of the instrument. There also is a significant interest demonstrated in spatiality which features in different ways in each of the pieces.
Steiger’s live electronics supply echoing canons and additional resonance to Heller’s bassoon. Following is a follow-up piece to the hard-driving Calling, written by Fujikura for Heller in 2011. This time around, angular melodies that span the compass of the instrument, beginning gently but picking up speed and energy over time, are hauntingly evocative. Eckhardt’s Wild Ginger employs many of the aforementioned extensions, but does so in a seamless way, using them to inflect asymmetrical groupings of melodic cells that variously congregate and concatenate i. Partway through, the interruption of rests and sustained pitches add other elements of tension, leading way to a low-register eruption that Heller unleashes with fulsome power. The closing section contrasts this with pitch bends and multiphonics in the bassoon’s upper register. It is a most persuasive piece.
Lara’s work is for live bassoon alongside a half-dozen pre-recorded bassoons. The chords and shrieking glissandos emitted from the tape part create an uneasy shadowing of a solo part that often departs from its prefabricated brethren on extended flights of fancy, but occasionally touches down to intone alongside them. Percussive articulation, wide pitch bends, trills, and a brusque gestural palette combine to make this a dramatic showpiece with which to end a compelling recording.
Heller’s advocacy for the bassoon, and her staunch commitment to expanding its repertoire, are laudable. Her playing is both detailed and thrilling throughout. Metafagote is one of my “Best-of” solo recordings of 2017.
- Christian Carey, christiancarey.com, 12.20.17