Friday, December 8, 2006

Ten Holiday Music Ideas!

...for anyone looking for ideas for some NEW music. Here are twelve composers from WITF-Harrisburg, PA's Composing Thoughts on ten different cds. You can click on the composer's name to learn about their episode and also click on the title of the cd (next to the composer's name) to learn more about the album and purchase it.

1. Fred Lerdahl: Time after Time [Bridge Records]

As we learned from the composer, this has nothing to do with Cyndi Lauper or her music, but rather with a style of variations the composer created for the piece and the 1940s jazz standard, Time After Time. Also this recent recording has the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra in Lerdahl's fantastic Waves.
2. Libby Larsen: Water Music [Koch International Classics]

If you're a fan of interesting and lush orchestra music, look no further than Libby Larsen's disc with Joel Revzen and the LSO. In her episode, Libby commented that one of her favorite compositions is the Lyric Symphony, which is featured on this disc. We love it too!
3. Jose Serebrier: Symphony No. 3 [Naxos]
Maestro Serebrier is as skillful writing music as he is conducting it! His latest disc includes the Third Symphony, a work he wrote specifically for this cd. Maestro Serebrier (hear how he says his name here) told us great stories about music and composition - his charm shows as well on this recording. This cd is also a real bargain - you might be tempted to pick one up for yourself besides someone on your holiday list.
4. John Eaton: The Music of John Eaton [Indiana University]
John Eaton is a genius - he won a MacArthur Grant that proves it - and so does this disc! Hear a wide range of music on this cd from Indiana University where Eaton taught for many years. Especially haunting is a selection for harp choir and flute, Cave of the Sybil that John discussed onWITF's Composing Thoughts.
5. Tina Davidson: It is my heart singing [Albany]
Tina Davidson spoke to us from her studio in Marietta, PA and showed us the original artwork that this cd uses for it's cover. She also discussed writing "telescope" pieces - works written for professional musicians and students like Paper, Glass, String and Wood that is recorded for the first time on this cd.
6. Ellen Taaffe Zwilich: Symphony No. 2 [First Edition Recordings] Zwilich's Cello Symphony (Symphony No. 2) is a sumptuous work, and this disc also includes her Double Concerto and Chamber Symphony. First Edition captures the excitement and passion of these works with the Louisville Orchestra. Ellen spoke to us about the Cello Symphony, you can hear the interview segment here: mp3 file
7. Kevin Puts: Inspiring Beethoven [Albany Records]This cd is a sampler from Bowling Green University and their wonderful new music festival. Fans of Beethoven and also of new music will adore Kevin's orchestral tour de force, Inspiring Beethoven. This cd includes comments from the composer before each piece is played.
8. Dominick Argento: Casa Guidi [Reference Recordings]
Not only did this recording win a Grammy, it really shows the depth of Argento's orchestral writing. Frederica von Stade is glorious in the title cut; and the beauty of Argento's skill is demonstrated by the Minnesota Orchestra.
9. George Crumb: Ancient Voices of Children (Complete Edition Volume 9) [Bridge Records]

This recent edition from Bridge is an excellent example of George's genius. You'll hear Ancient Voices of Children, Madrigals Books I-IV, and Eine Kleine Mitternachtmusik as the composer intended - Crumb attended and supervised the recording sessions. He spoke to us at his studio in Media, PA about the importance of inspiring the performer with the score. See some his scores here.
10. Jennifer Higdon/Augusta Read Thomas/Bernard Rands: Dream Journal [Albany Records]

Here is a disc with several of the composers we've interviewed onWITF's Composing Thoughts played by the Network for New Music. It's a charming disc of chamber music for the novice or experienced new music listener. Jennifer Higdon was the first composer we interviewed, and we'll be checking on her with an update this spring, including her upcoming Piano Concerto for Lang Lang. Husband and wife composers Bernard Rands and Augusta Read Thomas spoke to us for Valentine's Day 2006.

Enjoy these selections that we highly recommend, and Happy Holidays from everyone at Danse Macabre!

by John Clare