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Babbitt: Swan Song No 1, Soli E Duetini, Manifold Music, Etc

Release Date: 10/28/2003 
Label:  Bridge   Catalog #: 9135   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Milton Babbitt
Performer:  William AndersonOren FaderTony ArnoldCharles Neidich,   ... 
Conductor:  Jeffrey Milarsky
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Cygnus Ensemble
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 0 Hours 51 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

A Babbitt album with rewards in store for listeners prepared to approach it with the same serious intent as the performers do

Milton Babbitt has long claimed that his most famous title, Who Cares If You Listen?, was not his original heading but a last minute addition by an intrusive editor. But since Babbitt has given us such provocative titles of his own – for example, My Ends Are My Beginnings, a 1978 composition for solo clarinet as prickly in its own right as the composer’s famous essay – such distinctions seem like splitting hairs.

In music this rigorously constructed, however, hair-splitting remains a viable vocation. The five works on this collection span 25 years and while clearly meant to be
Read more relatively easy on the ears, still give even newcomers to the Babbitt world a sense of what the fuss has been about.

Cliché though it may be to say, you must approach this music using its own standards; for someone who has gone great lengths to rethink music from its foundation this cannot be stressed often enough. From the opening Quatrains (1993) we find a composer who treats the voice on instrumental terms. In Manifold Music (1995) for solo organ, the instrument is bandied about in a most un-organlike manner.

A particular strength of this collection is that the pieces are mostly performed by the original dedicatees, who have had the most time to grow into them. We are clearly in good hands with clarinettist Allen Blustine in My Ends Are My Beginnings (with its cheeky invocation of Machaut), as well as guitarists William Anderson and Oren Fader in Soli e Duettini.

The most intriguing piece, though, is the most recent. Babbitt’s Swan Song No 1 (2003) not only reconceives inter-relationships among his potentially unwieldy consort (flute, oboe, mandolin, guitar, violin and cello), but he again strikes gold with the title. With cheeky references not only to the dedicatees (the Cygnus Ensemble), but to his age (87!), Babbitt gives us his ‘swan song’ while leaving the door open, a clear clue us not to take anything here purely at face value.

-- Ken Smith, Gramophone [2/2004]
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Works on This Recording

Soli e duettini by Milton Babbitt
Performer:  William Anderson (Guitar), Oren Fader (Guitar)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1989; USA 
Date of Recording: 1992 
Venue:  KAS Studios, New York City 
Length: 11 Minutes 39 Secs. 
Quatrains by Milton Babbitt
Performer:  Tony Arnold (Soprano), Charles Neidich (Clarinet), Ayako Oshima (Clarinet)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1993; USA 
Date of Recording: 2002 
Venue:  KAS Studios, New York City 
Length: 5 Minutes 9 Secs. 
Language: English 
Manifold Music by Milton Babbitt
Performer:  Gregory D'Agostino (Organ)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1995; USA 
Date of Recording: 2001 
Venue:  Madison Avenue Presbyterian Church, NYC 
Length: 6 Minutes 45 Secs. 
My Ends are my Beginnings by Milton Babbitt
Performer:  Allen Blustine (Bass Clarinet), Allen Blustine (Clarinet)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1978; USA 
Date of Recording: 2002 
Venue:  KAS Studios, New York City 
Length: 16 Minutes 4 Secs. 
Swan Song no 1 by Milton Babbitt
Conductor:  Jeffrey Milarsky
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Cygnus Ensemble
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 2003; USA 
Date of Recording: 2003 
Venue:  Eonta Sound, Bronxville, NY 
Length: 11 Minutes 0 Secs. 

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