Henry Cowell: Instrumental, Chamber and Vocal Music, Vol. 1

Henry Cowell: Instrumental, Chamber and Vocal Music, Vol. 1

by Continuum
     
 

New York-based Continuum ensemble is a first-class chamber organization under the direction of Joel Sachs and Cheryl Seltzer, winning considerable acclaim for its challenging and original approach to programming contemporary music. Continuum ensemble's relationship with the music of Henry Cowell goes back to theirSee more details below

Overview

New York-based Continuum ensemble is a first-class chamber organization under the direction of Joel Sachs and Cheryl Seltzer, winning considerable acclaim for its challenging and original approach to programming contemporary music. Continuum ensemble's relationship with the music of Henry Cowell goes back to their third season as a performing unit, and they have periodically revived and refined their interpretations of his chamber works, presenting them all over the world. Cowell: Instrumental, Chamber and Vocal Music 1 was recorded for Musical Heritage Society in April 1990, capturing the group in their 24th season. Ironically, the intervening time between the disc's original release and this reissue in Naxos American Classics' series has hardly created a crowded condition for Cowell's music in the catalog, and these recordings are as fresh and timely as ever. The program wisely combines items from Cowell's so-called "futurist" and "conservative" periods, and to some extent demonstrates that these stylistic phases were not that different from one another. From in the middle of Cowell's output comes the piano piece "Deep Color," given a moving performance by Seltzer and rendered more poignant through the knowledge that the piece was written in the depths of San Quentin Prison, where Cowell was serving hard time for a crime he did not commit. Stylistically, Cowell's music is all over the map, ranging from the ferocious dissonances in the piano piece "Tiger" to the neo-Baroque sweetness of his "Quartet for flute, oboe, cello & harpsichord," written for harpsichordist Sylvia Marlowe and played to perfection here. Other highlights include violinist Mia Wu's shimmering reading of Cowell's "Suite for violin and piano"; "Polyphonica," a short, experimental orchestral piece in the vein of Charles Ives' "Tone Roads"; and the silly "Three Anti-Modernist Songs" sung with aplomb by mezzo Ellen Lang. The only work that does not come off as well as one would hope is "Irish Suite" -- it's a quiet piece, and the engineers recorded it a bit too quietly to be properly heard. Nonetheless, the return of Continuum ensemble's Cowell: Instrumental, Chamber and Vocal Music 1 is certainly a welcome one, and since it is now on Naxos, it hopefully will be awhile before it becomes unavailable once more.

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Product Details

Release Date:
02/22/2005
Label:
Naxos American
UPC:
0636943919224
catalogNumber:
8559192
Rank:
223362

Tracks

  1. Set of Two Movements (2), for piano, HC 549: Deep Color  - Henry Cowell  - Joel Sachs
  2. The Fairy Answer, for piano strings, HC 453  - Henry Cowell  - Joel Sachs
  3. Fabric, for piano, HC 307  - Henry Cowell  - Joel Sachs
  4. Tiger, for piano (Two Pieces No. 2), HC 463/2  - Henry Cowell  - Joel Sachs
  5. Quartet for flute, oboe, cello & harpsichord, HC 802  - Henry Cowell  -  Continuum
  6. Anti-Modernist Songs (3), song cycle for voice & piano, HC 542  - Henry Cowell  - Cheryl Seltzer  - Ellen Lang
  7. Suite for Violin and Piano (6), HC 397  - Henry Cowell  - Cheryl Seltzer  - Mia Wu
  8. Polyphonica, for chamber orchestra, HC 458  - Henry Cowell  -  Continuum  - Joel Sachs
  9. Irish Suite: a Concerto (3), for string piano & chamber orchestra, HC 452  - Henry Cowell  -  Continuum  - Joel Sachs  - Cheryl Seltzer

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Album Credits

Performance Credits

Continuum   Primary Artist

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