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Lucier: Vespers And Other Early Works

Release Date: 10/29/2002 
Label:  New World Records   Catalog #: 80604   Spars Code: n/a 
Composer:  Alvin Lucier
Performer:  Alvin LucierShawn OnsgardRees ArchibaldRyuku Mizutani,   ... 
Conductor:  Alvin Lucier
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Brandeis University Chamber Chorus members
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 5 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

Can we consider the manipulation of sound and space to be music, even in the absence of musical pitches per se? Alvin Lucier has long grappled with this issue. Casually listen to Vespers (1969), the opening title track of New World's collection devoted to Lucier's early works. At first the sounds amount to no more than random clicking at various levels of volume and speed. The slow clicks sound like handclaps, the quicker ones like lawnmowers or electric razors. Listen closely, however, and you notice the almost surgical care with which Lucier "orchestrates" the clicking plateaus as they pan back and forth from left to right. Even the background tape humming provides a kind of pedal
Read more point.

Chambers (1968) interweaves recordings taped in various ambient situations (dry and close up, murky and cavernous, for example). The purpose seems to be to divert the listener from adjusting to a particular acoustic in order to identify sounds or text. With North American Time Capsule (1967), Lucier focuses on the human voice rather than space, processing speech or speech-like sounds through the Sylvania Electronic Systems Vocoder, a device designed to encode these sounds so that they would be intelligible only on a system controlled by a designated listener. The sole non-electronic work, (Middletown) Memory Space (1970), is an evocative procession of quiet piano clusters, sustained pitches that flutter and pluck, wispy accordion interjections, and gentle exhaling into the shakuhachi.

You'd never know from listening that the musicians are not operating from conventional notation or improvisation, but rather are responding a specific set of instructions. Lucier asks you to go out and record, by any means, the sounds of the city. You then return to the inside performance space and recreate these sounds by vocal and instrumental means. Naturally, every performance yields unique results. Lastly, Elegy for Albert Anastasia (1961-63) is a piece for electromagnetic tape constructed around low sounds that are more often felt than heard. I rate this disc as I do because conceptually and sonically Lucier achieved exactly what he set out to do in each of these five pieces. If you're new to Lucier's work, though, I'd recommend you start with his extraordinary I Am Sitting In A Room (available from Lovely Music).
--Jed Distler, ClassicsToday.com Read less

Works on This Recording

Vespers by Alvin Lucier
Performer:  Alvin Lucier (Electronics)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1969; USA 
Date of Recording: 1969 
Venue:  Listening Incorporated, Arlington, MA 
Length: 15 Minutes 54 Secs. 
Chambers by Alvin Lucier
Performer:  Alvin Lucier (Electronics)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1968; USA 
Date of Recording: 2002 
Venue:  The Coffehouse, Middletown, Connecticut 
Length: 14 Minutes 19 Secs. 
North American Time Capsule by Alvin Lucier
Performer:  Alvin Lucier (Electronics)
Conductor:  Alvin Lucier
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Brandeis University Chamber Chorus members
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1967; USA 
Date of Recording: 05/1967 
Venue:  Sylvania Applied Research, Waltham, MA 
Length: 10 Minutes 35 Secs. 
(Middletown) Memory Space by Alvin Lucier
Performer:  Shawn Onsgard (Piano), Rees Archibald (Shakuhachi), Ryuku Mizutani (Koto),
Charlie Looker (Electric Guitar), Matt Welch (Accordion)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1970; USA 
Date of Recording: 2001 
Venue:  The Coffehouse, Middletown, Connecticut 
Length: 16 Minutes 32 Secs. 
Elegy for Albert Anastasia by Alvin Lucier
Performer:  Alvin Lucier (Electronics)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1961-1963; USA 
Date of Recording: 1961-63 
Venue:  Studio Fonologica, Milan, Italy 
Length: 7 Minutes 22 Secs. 

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