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David S. Lefkowitz: Music Of Contradictions

Lefkowitz / Ponce / Maksoudian
Release Date: 02/08/2011 
Label:  Albany Records   Catalog #: 1247   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  David S. Lefkowitz
Performer:  Stella MaksoudianWalter PonceCarter DewberryAndrea Thiele,   ... 
Orchestra/Ensemble:  The Definiens Project
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
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Notes and Editorial Reviews

LEFKOWITZ Duo 1. With/Without [Con/Sol(-ation)] Flute Solo. 2 _(Sur) Real (Cine-) Music I: The Chase Through Escher’s Metamorphosen. 3 With/Without [Con/Sol(-ation)] Harp Solo 4. Surfer’s Guide for the Perplexed. 5 With/Without [Con/Sol(-ation)] Flute/Violincello Duo Read more class="SUPER12">6. E Duo Unum. 7 With/Without [Con/Sol(-ation)] Trio. 8 Canonical Variations 9. The Fashionable Suite 10 1 Walter Ponce, Stella Maksoudian (pn); 2,6,8 Julie Long, 3 Jennifer Roth (fl); 3 Daphne Chon (vn); 3 Buzz Gravelle, Sam Vierra (gtr); 4,8 Andrea Thiele (hp); 5 The Definiens Project; 6, 8 Carter Dewberry (vc); 7 Paul Coletti, Silu Fei (va); 9 Ralph Williams, Jonathan Sacdalan (cl); 10 Jen-Mae G. Satoli (pn) ALBANY TROY1247 (79:21)

With titles like these, David Lefkowitz had better have a particular point of view, or he would be left with mere pretentiousness. Fortunately, he actually does have a unique voice to present, and it is worth listening to. The subtitle for the CD is Music of Contradictions , and he makes these words meaningful via the constant use of tension in his writing. This gives much of his music an energetic sense of motion, which takes on a programmatic value in a work such as The Chase Through Escher’s Metamorphosen . There is a palpable sense of chasing in the music, as flute, violins, and two guitars create a web of intersecting melodic lines, intersecting at harmonies that sound like a series of musical question marks.

Lefkowitz is of a generation that celebrates eclecticism. His music is rife with dissonance and even serialism, but the overall presentation is tonal and quite accessible. In a way, this is nothing new; Berg’s Violin Concerto opens with a hauntingly beautiful theme that is constructed using a strict 12-tone method. Similarly, Lefkowitz constructs melodies using 12-tone techniques, which can add a certain kinetic anxiousness to his music, but does not otherwise jar the ear. It is a compliment to the composer that style and technique are not ends in themselves, but rather tools to be used in the larger conceptions of the music.

The opening duo for two pianos derives its essential power from rhythmical devices, including a sort of hiccupping syncopation. The harmonic structure, as well, is very rich and powerful. Another duo for two same instruments is E Duo Unum , written as a wedding gift for violinists Paul and Gina Coletti. Here, Lefkowitz employs an old technique known as hocket, which joins the two lines like an interlocking stitch to move the piece along. The metaphor that is also suggested to me is that of a ratchet wrench, swinging back and forth, and moving relentlessly forward.

Not all of this material is so ceaselessly propulsive. In the three [Con/Sol(-ation)] pieces, which were written for a ballet based on the O’Neill play Desire Under the Elms, a calmer spirit pervades, especially in the solos for harp and for flute. The oddly constructed title is a play on the meaning in the syllables of the word “consolation,” which suggests the contradiction that Lefkowitz seeks in the music. These works convey a natural sense for the idiomatic flavor of these instruments. And in the Surfer’s Guide for the Perplexed (or: Jonah on the Raging Sea) , perhaps the single strongest work on the program, the initial tension of the music is resolved in a chorale-like passage that recalls Copland, meant to convey the after-the-storm calm and beauty of the sea.

Elsewhere, Lefkowitz continues to show off a fascination with the nature of movement in music, incorporating devices that are both diverse and connected, from the Baroque and before to contemporary Minimalism. In all, this CD is a fine omnibus to introduce a talented and compelling young composer.

FANFARE: Peter Burwasser
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Works on This Recording

Duo by David S. Lefkowitz
Performer:  Stella Maksoudian (Piano), Walter Ponce (Piano)
Period: 21st Century 
Written: USA 
With/Without [Con/Sol (-ation)] by David S. Lefkowitz
Performer:  Carter Dewberry (Cello), Andrea Thiele (Harp), Julie Jong (Flute)
Period: 21st Century 
Written: USA 
This piece is recorded four times on this album:
1. For solo flute.
2. For solo harp.
3. For flute and cello.
4. For flute, cello and harp. 
(Sur)Real (Cine-) Music I: The Chase Through Escher's Metamorphosen by David S. Lefkowitz
Performer:  Sam Vierra (Guitar), Dephne Chen (Violin), Jennifer Roth (Flute),
Buzz Gravelle (Guitar)
Period: 21st Century 
Written: USA 
Surfer's Guide for the Perplexed (or: Jonah on the Raging Sea) by David S. Lefkowitz
Orchestra/Ensemble:  The Definiens Project
Period: 21st Century 
Written: USA 
E Duo Unum by David S. Lefkowitz
Performer:  Silu Fei (Viola), Paul Coletti (Viola)
Period: 21st Century 
Written: USA 
Canonical Variations by David S. Lefkowitz
Performer:  Jonathan Sacdalan (Clarinet), Ralph Williams (Clarinet)
Period: 21st Century 
Written: USA 
The Fashionable Suite by David S. Lefkowitz
Performer:  Jer-mae Satolfi (Piano)
Period: 21st Century 
Written: USA 

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