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Ben Leeds Carson - Music For Percussion

Carson / Froh / Antonio / Greenberg
Release Date: 12/14/2010 
Label:  Albany Records   Catalog #: 1225  
Composer:  Ben Leeds Carson
Performer:  Russell GreenbergChristopher FrohIan AntonioAiyun Huang
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Back Order: Usually ships in 2 to 3 weeks.  

Notes and Editorial Reviews

CARSON A is for Azimuth and Arnica. Meditations, Tenors Chris Froh, ,Ian Antonio, Russell Greenberg, Aiyun Huang (perc) ALBANY TROY1225 (73:49)

A is for Azimuth and Arnica belongs to that style of indeterminate or quasi-improvised music in which the composer specifies a series of actions, rhythms, and instruments that are then combined to create the finished work. In my more facetious moments, I think of this as the Chinese restaurant menu approach to composition: Take Read more one from column A, two from column B, stir, and voilà, instant music! Each realization is intended to be unique and, in a sense, the performer functions as a co-composer. Azimuth’s soloists don’t dwell long on any particular instrument, but move freely among them. The pacing is slow and deliberate. Predominantly soft, the dynamic placidity is only occasionally disturbed by sharp percussive reports: Picture a stone thrown into a pond, and the resulting ripples. The text is delivered in short, fragmentary snippets, accompanied by delicate timbres. The “accompaniment” is as minimal as the vocal interjections themselves. The words are so subtly intoned that they’re hardly there; for me their poetic significance is more or less irrelevant. The six “activities” that constitute the piece differ from one another in the sequence of events, but clearly form a unified whole. I would say that the prevailing aesthetic is that of the Far East, except that our own West Coast school of composition has embraced similar ideas for a long time. The music brings Noh plays and even Peking opera to mind, but is far less excitable or intense. Have you ever been pleasantly surprised by the unexpected tinkling of wind chimes? I’ve always found it an arresting sound and fascinating for the way it suddenly focuses my attention on my aural surroundings. Imagine an extended, windblown music: The ensuing random but not chaotic sequences, if colored with multiple timbres, might suggest A is for Azimuth’s sonic milieu.

Mediations, Tenors is occasionally more energetic than A is for Azimuth and fuller in sound, volume, and texture. There’s a haunting quality to the opening of the piece, which gradually fragments as it proceeds. Melody is more discernable than in Azimuth , not least because the marimba and vibraphone are pitched instruments, so any set of notes can’t avoid being perceived as having a melodic shape. Still, don’t expect Puccini. I feel that the more abstract sections would have more interest, in the long run, if allied with film or dance. Texture, timbre, and atmosphere only go so far, at least for this listener. Mediations was recorded before a live audience, but with the exception of one rather prominent cough, its presence would not be suspected until the concluding applause. The composer’s detailed notes clearly explain both his aims and procedures and the booklet is illustrated with excerpts from the score. As is often said in Fanfare , you’ll probably know by now if this is for you.

FANFARE: Robert Schulslaper
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Works on This Recording

A is for Azimuth and Arnica by Ben Leeds Carson
Performer:  Russell Greenberg (Percussion), Christopher Froh (Percussion), Ian Antonio (Percussion),
Aiyun Huang (Percussion)
Period: 21st Century 
Written: USA 
Mediations, Tenors by Ben Leeds Carson
Performer:  Ian Antonio (Percussion), Russell Greenberg (Percussion)
Period: 21st Century 
Written: USA 

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