Discussion:
Recommended recordings of music by Christian Wolff.
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Mandryka
2020-02-28 18:58:07 UTC
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Please suggest some key things to listen to and indeed to read.
Todd Michel McComb
2020-02-28 20:00:17 UTC
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Post by Mandryka
Please suggest some key things to listen to and indeed to read.
I've never been big into Wolff as a composer (including the orientation
on piano, as noted), but a couple of notable items in the improvised
realm:

http://eamusic.dartmouth.edu/~larry/trio/trio.index.html

https://matchlessrecordings.com/music/uncertain-outcomes
Mandryka
2020-02-29 10:32:41 UTC
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Post by Todd Michel McComb
Post by Mandryka
Please suggest some key things to listen to and indeed to read.
I've never been big into Wolff as a composer (including the orientation
on piano, as noted), but a couple of notable items in the improvised
http://eamusic.dartmouth.edu/~larry/trio/trio.index.html
https://matchlessrecordings.com/music/uncertain-outcomes
Thanks.

Listening to One Coat of Paint 3, it occurred to me that at the moment I couldn’t confidently tell whether this piece was Cage or Wolff just by listening. It’s on this CD

https://www.discogs.com/Christian-Wolff-Robyn-Schulkowsky-Frederic-Rzewski-Kim-Kashkashian-Joey-Baron-Reinhold-Friedrich-Roh/release/4394590


I’ve bought this book, which hopefully will help me get a better orientation

https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=nhftCwAAQBAJ&printsec=copyright&redir_esc=y
Mandryka
2020-03-02 18:34:38 UTC
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Here's a really nice one, Burdocks for small ensemble, with an all star cast


Mandryka
2020-03-08 08:57:34 UTC
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I’m very impressed with the two late pieces on this CD, For Ruth and Peggy.

https://www.discogs.com/Christian-Wolff-Hildegard-Kleeb-Roland-Dahinden-Dimitris-Polisoidis-For-Ruth-Crawford/release/1770593
Todd Michel McComb
2020-03-08 17:43:47 UTC
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Post by Mandryka
https://www.discogs.com/Christian-Wolff-Hildegard-Kleeb-Roland-Dahinden-Dimitris-Polisoidis-For-Ruth-Crawford/release/1770593
Kleeb & Dahinden continue to be active (recording on Hat Hut) in
improvised music....
Todd Michel McComb
2020-03-29 00:19:06 UTC
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So I did listen to some Wolff albums today, and I'll confirm that
as a composer, his music isn't a priority for me. I enjoyed the
albums, but hearing them once seemed like the peak of satisfaction
-- more or less (pace the collage style). I enjoy his basic
rhetorical context, but I feel that his ideas are more suited to
improvisation. And I noted two -- thoroughly recommended --
improvised albums earlier in this thread.

I did take some time to expand my interest in James Tenney, though.
I feel that Tenney is important as a composer, even though my own
attention is only relatively recent.
Mandryka
2020-03-29 09:24:54 UTC
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That’s interesting. I also have been dipping my toe into James Tenney because I read that Cage said some very approving things about him, but so far I’ve not found anything which has caught my imagine except the latest thing to be released, 64 studies for six harps. I’d be lying if I said I’d listened to all 64!

Re Wolff, recent discoveries include the sequence of pieces called “tilbury” on Mode, a set four pieces dedicated to Jasper Johns written in 1991, also on Mode played by Robert Black and the solo violin version of Bread and Roses played by Malcolm Goldstein. And Long Piano - but I know you won’t like that!

Bread and Roses has led me to Cage’s work based on folk tunes, and I’m really enjoying Arditti’s arrangement of the Apartment House Melodies, and indeed Stefan Hussong’s selection on a CD called Dream.
Todd Michel McComb
2020-03-29 15:11:14 UTC
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Post by Mandryka
I also have been dipping my toe into James Tenney because I read
that Cage said some very approving things about him, but so far
I've not found anything which has caught my imagine except the
latest thing to be released, 64 studies for six harps.
My other suggestion would be the _Spectrum Pieces_. More colors
there than just harp.
Todd Michel McComb
2020-03-29 16:07:21 UTC
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Post by Todd Michel McComb
My other suggestion would be the _Spectrum Pieces_. More colors
there than just harp.
Perhaps I should add that one can download this and other Tenney
albums directly from newworldrecords.org. I foolishly paid more
at Presto before noticing this fact.
Todd Michel McComb
2020-04-04 00:45:07 UTC
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I've found the Mode anthology _Melody, Ergodicity and Indeterminacy_
to be well done in exploring the relations within some of Tenney's
work. I don't expect I'll come back to it for too much longer,
though, but it's good for understanding. One thing that's interesting
there (in a different sort of way) is the Seegersong pieces, i.e.
studies in monophonic melody. This is basically random music
scripted according to psychoacoustic tendencies, but it comes off
sounding good. I think anyone would enjoy it (provided they will
listen to solo woodwinds)?

But I'm more interested in Tenney's explorations of harmony. I
actually did get a copy of the recent _Changes_ double album when
it came out, and listened to it a few times (over a year or so?)
prior to this thread, but it was a backburner project. (Still is,
really, but I guess lots of burners are in view at the moment....)

Anyway, I'm interested in Tenney's post-Changes music, because
that's basically when he started exploring ideas of harmony more
(according to what I've read). But some earlier stuff is interesting
at times -- maybe more as a sonic demonstration than as affective
music in some cases, but includes some distinctive stuff nonetheless
(i.e. music nerd stuff).

What stands out for me then is the later series pieces, like _Spectrum
Pieces_ as discussed. That's the summa on recording, IMO so far.
But there are two other prominent series, and I think series work
for Tenney because they provide more of a context for their own
ideas (to borrow a notion I articulated around Feldman): Instead
of an anthology around different sorts of technical relations,
there's a continuing development of similar constraints from different
angles. One late "harmony" series is _Form_, with _Form 1_ through
_Form 4_ found on an older Hat Art double album (with some pieces
by related composers). That's worthwhile. The other series is
_Harmonium_ and _Harmonium #1_ is the title of a Tenney album on
New World: That album is a mixed bag in terms of these other more
technical pieces, but they're all worth hearing at least once. So
I'd still like to hear the whole series of _Harmonium_ in a program,
I think....
Mandryka
2020-04-04 09:55:50 UTC
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I’ve been enjoying a Harmonium, the Harmonium 2 on this Zeitkratzer CD

https://zeitkratzer.bandcamp.com/album/james-tenney-old-school

There’s a sample of it (bad sound) on Soundcloud here

https://soundcloud.com/zeitkratzerofficial
Todd Michel McComb
2020-04-04 16:55:11 UTC
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I've been enjoying a Harmonium, the Harmonium 2 on this Zeitkratzer
CD
Ah, Zeitkratzer... will definitely check that out.
Todd Michel McComb
2020-04-05 00:23:29 UTC
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Post by Todd Michel McComb
Ah, Zeitkratzer... will definitely check that out.
Once again, Zeitkratzer kicks ass. (Gratkowski is a helluva jazz
& post-jazz sax player too, BTW.)

Good find. The opener _Critical Band_ makes quite an impression
too -- the most Scelsian of Tenney's music I've heard to date
(although I haven't heard the piece with Scelsi in the title).

I'm not sure why I didn't think to search "in that direction" for
music from Tenney.... Anyway, doing so led me not only to Quatuor
Bozzini's Tenney album -- strangely, or unfortunately, not on their
Bandcamp -- but to their Cage (which I'd managed not to notice):

https://quatuorbozzini-actuellecd.bandcamp.com/album/john-cage-four

I'd been wanting a new _Four_ (pace the other thread). Amazing
technique throughout. And that group has an entire range of good
work in the "classical" orbit.

Another find for today in the post-Cage direction, but improvised
rather than "classical" ...

https://auscultofonogram.bandcamp.com/album/crystalline

(All of my recording comments here are first impressions....)
John Hood
2020-04-05 07:38:16 UTC
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Post by Todd Michel McComb
Post by Todd Michel McComb
Ah, Zeitkratzer... will definitely check that out.
Once again, Zeitkratzer kicks ass. (Gratkowski is a helluva jazz
& post-jazz sax player too, BTW.)
Good find. The opener _Critical Band_ makes quite an impression
too -- the most Scelsian of Tenney's music I've heard to date
(although I haven't heard the piece with Scelsi in the title).
I'm not sure why I didn't think to search "in that direction" for
music from Tenney.... Anyway, doing so led me not only to Quatuor
Bozzini's Tenney album -- strangely, or unfortunately, not on their
https://quatuorbozzini-actuellecd.bandcamp.com/album/john-cage-four
I'd been wanting a new _Four_ (pace the other thread). Amazing
technique throughout. And that group has an entire range of good
work in the "classical" orbit.
Another find for today in the post-Cage direction, but improvised
rather than "classical" ...
https://auscultofonogram.bandcamp.com/album/crystalline
(All of my recording comments here are first impressions....)
I think that the Bozzini's Tenney album breaks a new record for me - no
sound is heard for over a minute of playing. I thought ECM was bad -
they quite often go to 10 seconds, but a minute - who are these people?

JH
Mandryka
2020-04-05 08:48:13 UTC
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Where can I find the Bozzini Tenney? I didn’t know it existed and I would love to hear it! Can someone upload it for me?
Todd Michel McComb
2020-04-05 17:43:42 UTC
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Post by Mandryka
Where can I find the Bozzini Tenney?
https://actuellecd.com/en/album/1679/Bozzini_Quartet/Arbor_Vit%C3%A6

Most of their stuff is available for download, but not that, for
some reason.
Mandryka
2020-04-06 04:24:32 UTC
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Thanks, I’ll place an order and see what happens.

There’s a live Koan piece from one of their concerts on YouTube. It starts off very tonal and rigid, you have to bear with it for the first half, but it’s worth doing because the second half is fabulous harmonically - incredibly tense - in the way that those trills in op 111/ii are tense.





(Either my hearing Is deteriorating or the sound on youtube is getting much much better!)
Mandryka
2020-04-06 16:40:21 UTC
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Acruellecd In Montreal do have the Bozzini Quartet recording, I placed an order this morning in the UK and this afternoon in the UK they emailed me to say that they’d dispatched it.
Todd Michel McComb
2020-04-06 17:23:34 UTC
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Acruellecd In Montreal do have the Bozzini Quartet recording ....
I guess it's confusing because actuellecd is a retailer for other
items too, but that's the publisher. (Bozzini Quartet is one of
their sublabels, with its own numbering.)

Since this is supposed to be a back burner thing for me, I just
requested it from Squidco -- North Carolina mail order joint where
I buy a lot of stuff. Might be a little while, depending on if the
distributor is active too....
number_six
2020-04-06 17:08:16 UTC
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Post by Mandryka
Thanks, I’ll place an order and see what happens.
There’s a live Koan piece from one of their concerts on YouTube. It starts off very tonal and rigid, you have to bear with it for the first half, but it’s worth doing because the second half is fabulous harmonically - incredibly tense - in the way that those trills in op 111/ii are tense.
http://youtu.be/8Tpo2tCH-6I
(Either my hearing Is deteriorating or the sound on youtube is getting much much better!)
Thanks for posting. I'm not convinced the piece is well-named, but it was certainly well-performed.

The composer, given the extraordinary harmonic tension that will have accumulated, wisely used both abrupt means and attenuated means to create the safety valve.

I agree the sound was very good.
Todd Michel McComb
2020-04-14 17:08:08 UTC
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So at this point, I feel like the _Form_ pieces come off almost as
studies for the _Spectrum_ pieces: They manage some of the same
concerns, but are less dynamic (or more monotonous).

I remain curious about the later _Harmonium_ pieces, but the first
couple are kind of a mixed bag.... A lot of what Tenney does seems
like a technical study, and it's all been interesting, but not
necessarily for repeated listening....

I've been listening to _Cognate Canons_ a bit, though, and that's
not a bad piece in terms of more general music aesthetics. A little
severe, but that's part of what lets you hear the similarities/developments
as such....

Still waiting (& for an unknown time) on the Bozzini set, and
especially the late title piece _Arbor Vitae_ -- unsure what else
to seek out in terms of more "artistic" outcomes at this point....

I think Tenney is going to continue to appear in these sorts of
discussions, though, whether as a post-Cage composer in particular,
or as a spectral composer. He created some distinctive music.
Mandryka
2020-05-03 17:31:00 UTC
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Just wanted to say that I’ve become completely addicted to 64 studies.

And that I’ve been a bit distracted by Scelsi . . . and indeed the wonderful Dumitrescu,
Todd Michel McComb
2020-05-03 18:03:40 UTC
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Just wanted to say that I've become completely addicted to 64 studies.
How about something like Kyle Gann's _Hyperchromatica_?

(Gann used to post here, if my memory isn't playing tricks....)
Mandryka
2020-05-03 18:23:06 UTC
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Post by Todd Michel McComb
Just wanted to say that I've become completely addicted to 64 studies.
How about something like Kyle Gann's _Hyperchromatica_?
(Gann used to post here, if my memory isn't playing tricks....)
Ahhh . . . very good.
Todd Michel McComb
2020-07-25 22:30:38 UTC
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I'm still a ways off from getting a Cage writeup, focusing on the
Number Pieces, together.... But I expect that'll happen this year.

I'm going to write a new (but shorter) Feldman discussion "soon."
Just to sharpen a few points & recommendations.

But I'm also going to be writing a Tenney discussion sometime in
between those two -- just finishing up some final impressions of
some pieces etc. the next few weeks...

One thing I've needed to do as I've gotten more into this (what is
for me a "retro") project, comparatively (or sort of, because I was
reasonably current with the recorded Cage discography in 1992, but
not subsequently), is to recondition my responses to material &
instruments, such as piano, to be more authentic for c.1990. So
I've been "thinking more straight piano" & enjoying those pieces
more than I was tuned for when I started -- in part because people
like Cage & Tenney wrote music that needed more tones than the piano
has, and that's where I'd gone too. (I'd needed a more piano-friendly
approach in my earlier survey of Feldman anyway.) And this ends
up seeming like the era of the last straight piano music of any
import, but I'm sure that's as hasty a pronouncement as any proves
to be....

Anyway, one late piano piece by Tenney that I thought various people
on this newsgroup might enjoy, considering it seems to be a relatively
piano-centric group, is _To Weave (a meditation)_ (2003).

It's 11' long as available played by the pianist who commissioned
it:

https://eveegoyan.bandcamp.com/track/to-weave-a-meditation

(I would not recommend another recorded interpretation that I heard
online.)

The piece opens almost like the start of a Bach fugue, stating a
simple theme, but then a small alteration, and... before you know
it, you're hearing multiple voices within what remains a rather
stark texture (with no obvious entries). Some of Tenney's pieces
impress via surprise, or striking sonic effects, but this one is
more subtly rewarding.

Beyond the interest in other tunings & microtones, which interested
me from at least c.1990 as well, Tenney's interest in the psychoacoustics
of melody also yield a variety of intriguing material (tracking
subtly into his interest in the vertical dimensions in the piece
above) -- and, in fact, in the line of the "dissonant harmony" of
the US "ultra-moderns" as perhaps most eloquently expressed in the
works of Ruth Crawford Seeger. I thus turned to hearing Seeger's
_Diaphonic Studies_ & _String Quartet_ (1931) in order to pursue
these ideas in Tenney -- who himself studied them with Carl Ruggles.
I don't know that Seeger or the ultra-moderns ever made much of an
impression on me while passing through whatever survey that may
have been at the time.... So it was interesting to hear them as
specifically relevant to this contemporary music-making, and in
particular the way that their notion of "dissonant harmony" came
to imply a *melodic* abstraction that's actually suitably applicable
to linear-melodic scenarios involving infrachromaticism (or, rather,
open diatonic structures, continuing to proceed along "just" intervals
without closure...).
Todd Michel McComb
2020-07-25 22:36:14 UTC
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... the US "ultra-moderns" as perhaps most eloquently expressed
in the works of Ruth Crawford Seeger. I thus turned to hearing
Seeger's _Diaphonic Studies_ & _String Quartet_ (1931) ....
Excuse me, Tenney wrote a _Diaphonic Study_ (1997), but Seeger wrote
_Diaphonic Suites_ (1930).

Mandryka
2020-03-30 12:24:50 UTC
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Thanks, I’m enjoying the Spectral pieces.
Mandryka
2020-03-30 14:03:27 UTC
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Have you seen this?

http://www.plainsound.org/JTwork.html

http://www.plainsound.org/
Todd Michel McComb
2020-03-30 16:36:26 UTC
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Post by Mandryka
Have you seen this?
http://www.plainsound.org/JTwork.html
Nope. Looks like a good reference....
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