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Morris Rosenzweig - Chamber Music

Release Date: 02/22/2005 
Label:  Albany Records   Catalog #: 710   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Morris Rosenzweig
Performer:  John EcksteinCarlton VickersLynette WardleGlenn Webb,   ... 
Conductor:  Morris Rosenzweig
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Canyonlands Ensemble
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 1 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

The program annotator for this release makes the insightful comment that ?for contemporary composers faced with unprecedented cultural and musical pluralism, defining a coherent musical language is necessary.? Put another way, the tremendous freedom and lack of doctrine that composers are faced with today may be liberating, but it also creates the burden of developing a distinctive voice. American composer Maurice Rosenzweig accepts this challenge and meets it with music of considerable individualism and genuine beauty. This is not to say that there are no influences on his work, nor would he deny it. He is especially indebted to the work of Read more Mario Davidovsky, one of his teachers. Davidovsky is revered as a composer of sublime precision, the Swiss watchmaker of living composers, and Rosenzweig honors his teacher with writing of exquisite craft.

Although the program notes do not mention his name, I was reminded as well of the work of Morton Feldman while listening to this material, especially in the Melpomene . Harmonically and structurally, Rosenzweig and Feldman are very different. It is a sense of spaciousness, and above all else, the pervasive sotto voce of Rosenzweig?s music that throws out a Feldmanesque aura. As with Feldman, it is useless to relegate this music to the background (indeed, does any music deserve such a fate?); it must be accorded some degree of focused attention. Such attention will be rewarded with material of beautiful texture and structure, and almost paradoxically, immense scope. You slip into this shimmering soundscape and encounter an aural alternate universe.

The music featuring solo performances offers a more traditionally declamatory expression. What Follows Is a Song from the Same Fragmented Masque is overtly virtuosic, while Partita intrecciata features an elegant use of electronics, no doubt reflecting Rosenzweig?s Columbia training. Just One Step Beyond is an elegy for singer and songwriter Marg McGlinn. All of this music is sharply contoured, but still cohesive and certainly expressive. The final work on the CD, trace , contains stylistic elements of all of the preceding work. Rosenzweig returns to the dreamy world of Melpomene as the piece begins, but builds to a dramatic, even violent climax, followed by a long denouement consisting of repetitive pealing chords, evoking Russian church bells in the manner of Mussorgsky. This is a powerful work, written for two pianos and two percussionists, but finding a delicate texture in that unusual combination that is almost counterintuitive, especially as compared to music for the same combination by Bartók, and more recently, George Crumb.

The performances here are consistently superb. It is extremely instructive to note that performances of new music are routinely excellent. Why? Because world-class musicians, typically engaged by scrappy new music groups at the bottom of the union pay scale, often at a fraction of their rates in world renowned orchestras, hunger for music of originality and vision. For the uncounted wonderful artists who gladly champion the music of the composers of their time, this is truly a labor of love. It is a potent message for their audiences (and, more important, potential audiences) as well.

FANFARE: Peter Burwasser
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Works on This Recording

Melpomene by Morris Rosenzweig
Performer:  John Eckstein (Cello), Carlton Vickers (Alto Flute), Lynette Wardle (Harp),
Glenn Webb (Percussion)
Conductor:  Morris Rosenzweig
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Canyonlands Ensemble
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 2000; USA 
Length: 15 Minutes 22 Secs. 
Partita intrecciata for Violin and Electronics by Morris Rosenzweig
Performer:  Gerald Elias (Violin)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1999; USA 
Length: 13 Minutes 44 Secs. 
What follows is a Song from the Same Fragmented Masque by Morris Rosenzweig
Performer:  Carlton Vickers (Flute)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 2003; USA 
Length: 10 Minutes 1 Secs. 
Just One Step Beyond by Morris Rosenzweig
Performer:  Scott Lewis (Viola), Jed Moss (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1997; USA 
Length: 5 Minutes 33 Secs. 
Trace by Morris Rosenzweig
Performer:  Daniel Buess (Percussion), Susan Wenckus (Piano), Laszlo Hudacsek (Percussion),
Markus Stange (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1998; USA 
Length: 16 Minutes 39 Secs. 

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