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Meredith Monk: Piano Songs

Meredith Monk
Release Date: 05/06/2014 
Label:  Ecm   Catalog #: 002043902   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Meredith Monk
Performer:  Ursula OppensBruce Brubaker
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 0 Hours 47 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews



MONK Obsolete Objects. Ellis Island. Folkdance. urban march (shadow). Tower. Paris. Railroad (Travel Song). Parlour Games. St. Petersburg Waltz. Window in 7s. totentanz. Phantom Waltz Ursula Oppens, Bruce Brubaker (pn) ECM 0020439-02 (47:08)


Meredith Monk (b. 1942) is one of our great cultural treasures. Few artists have genuinely mastered so many aspects of what today is blithely called “performance”—music, dance, theater, design. This disc is a compendium of works for two pianos, from both previous Read more productions and stand-alone, she has been composing since 1972 ( Paris ) to 2006 ( totentanz ).


Monk’s language is simple in its basic elements. There is a lot of repetition, which shows her debt to Minimalism. The music tends to be modal or tonal with unusual harmonic inflections, often suggestive of non-Western traditions. Above all, it projects a driving kinetic energy. This strikes me as an obvious legacy of her training as a dancer; the music’s rhythms are not just syncopated and tricky, as is so much work today (a kind of neo-Stravinskian practice laced with rock and jazz), but they flow in a manner that comes very much out of the body, and they make you want to move as well.


Monk’s music is unusual and intriguing to me, in that on a single listening you hear almost everything. The surface is the substance. But that doesn’t mean it’s facile, nor that it diminishes on relistening. In fact, just the opposite: Its very elemental (and authentically sincere) character is reward enough.


I’ll cite two pieces that have a particularly strong profile. St. Petersburg Waltz has a quirky harmonic progression that suggests Satie, though this Erik was probably born near the Danube (Monk also cites Bartók and Mompou as influences, and that makes sense to the ear). A series of trembling repeated high note descants imbues it with a tense mystery. And totentanz may be the most sophisticated and “Modernist” of the works, with its dance fragmented cubistically into a kaleidoscope of recurring shards.


Oppens and Brubaker perform this music with every ounce of attention and passion that it deserves. Every release of Monk’s is an important piece of her archive and legacy, and her supporters will want this immediately. And though it doesn’t include any of her pioneering works for voice, vocal ensemble, or progressive music theater, it’s actually a worthy introduction to her work for those previously unacquainted.


FANFARE: Robert Carl
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Works on This Recording

1.
Obsolete Objects, for 2 pianos by Meredith Monk
Performer:  Ursula Oppens (Piano), Bruce Brubaker (Piano)
Period: Contemporary 
Written: 1996 
Date of Recording: 04/2002 
Venue:  Jordan Hall, New England Conservatory, B 
Length: 1 Minutes 59 Secs. 
2.
Folkdance, for 2 pianos by Meredith Monk
Performer:  Bruce Brubaker (Piano), Ursula Oppens (Piano)
Period: Contemporary 
Written: 1996 
Date of Recording: 04/2002 
Venue:  Jordan Hall, New England Conservatory, B 
Length: 4 Minutes 3 Secs. 
3.
Urban March (Shadow) by Meredith Monk
Performer:  Bruce Brubaker (Piano), Ursula Oppens (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: USA 
Date of Recording: 04/2002 
Venue:  Jordan Hall, New England Conservatory, B 
Length: 3 Minutes 8 Secs. 
4.
Tower, for 2 pianos by Meredith Monk
Performer:  Bruce Brubaker (Piano), Ursula Oppens (Piano)
Period: Contemporary 
Written: 1971 
Date of Recording: 04/2002 
Venue:  Jordan Hall, New England Conservatory, B 
Length: 1 Minutes 37 Secs. 
5.
Paris by Meredith Monk
Performer:  Ursula Oppens (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1972; USA 
Date of Recording: 04/2002 
Venue:  Jordan Hall, New England Conservatory, B 
Length: 3 Minutes 11 Secs. 
6.
Specimen Days: Travel Song by Meredith Monk
Performer:  Bruce Brubaker (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1981; USA 
Date of Recording: 04/2002 
Venue:  Jordan Hall, New England Conservatory, B 
Length: 2 Minutes 15 Secs. 
7.
Parlour Games, for 2 pianos by Meredith Monk
Performer:  Bruce Brubaker (Piano), Ursula Oppens (Piano)
Period: Contemporary 
Written: 1988 
Date of Recording: 04/2002 
Venue:  Jordan Hall, New England Conservatory, B 
Length: 7 Minutes 37 Secs. 
8.
St. Petersburg Waltz, for piano by Meredith Monk
Performer:  Ursula Oppens (Piano)
Period: Contemporary 
Written: 1994 
Date of Recording: 04/2002 
Venue:  Jordan Hall, New England Conservatory, B 
Length: 7 Minutes 4 Secs. 
9.
Window in 7's by Meredith Monk
Performer:  Bruce Brubaker (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1986; USA 
Date of Recording: 04/2002 
Venue:  Jordan Hall, New England Conservatory, B 
Length: 2 Minutes 46 Secs. 
10.
Totentanz, for 2 voices & chamber ensemble by Meredith Monk
Performer:  Bruce Brubaker (Piano), Ursula Oppens (Piano)
Period: Contemporary 
Written: United States of Ame 
Date of Recording: 04/2002 
Venue:  Jordan Hall, New England Conservatory, B 
Length: 3 Minutes 7 Secs. 
11.
Phantom Waltz, for 2 pianos by Meredith Monk
Performer:  Bruce Brubaker (Piano), Ursula Oppens (Piano)
Period: Contemporary 
Written: 1990 
Date of Recording: 04/2002 
Venue:  Jordan Hall, New England Conservatory, B 
Length: 7 Minutes 14 Secs. 
12.
Ellis Island: Theme by Meredith Monk
Performer:  Ursula Oppens (Piano), Bruce Brubaker (Piano)
Period: Contemporary 
Written: 1979 
Date of Recording: 04/2002 
Venue:  Jordan Hall, New England Conservatory, B 
Length: 3 Minutes 2 Secs. 

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