Fredby eighth blackbird
The simply titled Çedille album Fred features three compositions of expatriate American master Frederic Rzewski played by Chicago-based contemporary music ensemble eighth blackbird. Although Rzewski has never signed a high-profile recording deal, he has managed to place his works with smaller firms going back into the 1960s. As a result, most of his output has been recorded in one way or another, often with top-notch ensembles such as eighth blackbird. The playing is crisp, accurate, and faithful to the letter of Rzewski's mixture of specific and open-ended instructions. The key work on Fred is Rzewski's "Pocket Symphony," "pocket" sized only in respect to the diminutive dimensions of eighth blackbird, for whom it was written in 2000. "Pocket Symphony" is a very ensemble-friendly commission, as everyone in the group gets to show off a little. Rzewski is not afraid to evoke Romantic gestures in order to state his aims, and sometimes the music nods to examples such as Milhaud and Stravinsky. The only misstep in the "Pocket Symphony" is its conclusion, which sputters out in a pointillistic breakdown reminiscent of some student compositions of the 1970s -- oh no, we've run out of music, but there's still some paper left; here's some little doodads one can follow until the finish. The professor awards the work as a whole an "A," but the ending only merits a C minus. "Les Moutons de Panurge" is an open score that can be played by any pitched instruments, but it seems best suited to percussion. This realization by eighth blackbird, with its mixed winds, strings, piano, and single percussionist, cannot help but be a little low voltage. In its live performances, the Percussion Group of Cincinnati were capable of keeping "Les Moutons de Panurge" going for nearly 20 minutes, but here eighth blackbird settles for 12. It is not the performers, however, who scuttle eighth blackbird's realization of "Coming Together," but the recording, which does not provide enough presence to the spoken voices to render them truly intelligible. Given that the musical setting is monotonous, the whole thing just becomes annoying after a while. Despite Fred, we can expect more great things from eighth blackbird, and even from Rzewski. This is just one of those instances where the package, performer, composer, and choice of literature all seem ideal, but the result does not yield a reward in keeping with its promise.
- Release Date:
- Pocket Symphony, for ensemble - Frederic Rzewski - Peter Anthony Motteux - eighth blackbird - Melanie Germond - Pete Goldlust - François Rabelais
- Les Moutons de Panurge, for any number of instruments - Frederic Rzewski - Peter Anthony Motteux - eighth blackbird - Melanie Germond - Pete Goldlust - François Rabelais
- Coming Together for speaker, bass instruments & ensemble - Frederic Rzewski - Peter Anthony Motteux - eighth blackbird - Melanie Germond - Pete Goldlust - François Rabelais
Performance Creditseighth blackbird Primary Artist
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A charming piece nicely done which while skimmering tantalizingly close to falling into the seventies does if in conducive listener senses place itself now. It brings to mind the comment by Roger Sessions which concedes intellect/intention despite how thoroughly considered seems stubornly based upon things other than this. In sincere thanks to this sextet.