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Percussion Music / New Jersey Percussion Ensemble

Release Date: 05/28/1992 
Label:  Nonesuch   Catalog #: 79150   Spars Code: AAD 
Composer:  Edgard VarèseMichael ColgrassDavid SapersteinHenry Cowell,   ... 
Conductor:  Raymond DesRochesCharles Wuorinen
Orchestra/Ensemble:  New Jersey Percussion Ensemble
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 8 Mins. 

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This CD is reissued by ArkivMusic.

Notes and Editorial Reviews

This is another of Nonesuch's felicitous couplings of earlier vinyl discs: one of the most welcome, in fact, for the New Jersey Percussion Ensemble is an excellent group, capable of powerful sonorities and exciting rhythmic propulsion, and the program for their miscellany disc was well chosen. This is as riveting a performance of Ionisation as I've heard; it's heavy on the sirens, and in this pristine, extremely present recording the climax is overwhelming. There are many recordings equally or nearly as good, though, and it seems a shame that they kept this instead of Kil-sung Oak's Amorphoses, which was dropped from the original SD for reasons of space. Michael Colgrass' Fantasy-Variations, a well-shaped work, alternates between pitched Read more and unpitched instruments, using well-defined rhythms to create pleasant textures. David Saperstein's Antiphonies is chaotic, violent, and not nearly so rewarding. DesRoches hasn't chosen his instruments for Cowell's trifling Ostinato as well as Siegfried Fink did for his Thorofon recording, but this performance is sprightlier and more infectious.

I find Charles Wuorinen's Percussion Symphony, like so much of his music, disturbing. Of its five movements, the odd-numbered ones constitute a fast-slow-fast pattern in his usual violent, complex, rhythmically aggressive style. The second and fourth, though, are “entr'actes,“ pretty arrangement-transcriptions for percussion of Dufay's chanson “Vergine bella.“ The reason for this style juxtaposition, Wuorinen notes, is “to provide the relief afforded by light-textured and simple diatonicism, as a contrast and foil to the denser, louder contrapuntalism of the main movements.“ Good idea; next time you program a Babbitt string quartet, why not throw in Für Elise between the movements to give the audience a break? I mean, if Wuorinen realizes his idiom is difficult for listeners to take, why doesn't he tone it down, make it clearer? Sure, he wants to please the academics and he wants to be liked by the audience; but if he despairs of doing it simultaneously, doesn't he insult both with this hodgepodge? As usual, Wuorinen's music has two moods, arrogant and condescending, and in the Percussion Symphony he alternates them.

Since the Wuorinen Symphony occupies over 40 minutes out of 68 here, I have trouble recommending this disc as a whole. But if you want a sonically spectacular Ionisation, and can afford to shell out for that and Colgrass' nice piece, you'll find the performances and recorded sound here excellent, with only a slight background hiss.

-- Kyle Gann, FANFARE [1/1988] Read less

Works on This Recording

Ionisation by Edgard Varèse
Conductor:  Raymond DesRoches
Orchestra/Ensemble:  New Jersey Percussion Ensemble
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1929-1931; USA 
Fantasy-Variations for Percussion by Michael Colgrass
Conductor:  Raymond DesRoches
Orchestra/Ensemble:  New Jersey Percussion Ensemble
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1961; USA 
Antiphonies for Percussion by David Saperstein
Conductor:  Raymond DesRoches
Orchestra/Ensemble:  New Jersey Percussion Ensemble
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1972; USA 
Ostinato Pianissimo by Henry Cowell
Conductor:  Raymond DesRoches
Orchestra/Ensemble:  New Jersey Percussion Ensemble
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1934; USA 
Percussion Symphony by Charles Wuorinen
Conductor:  Charles Wuorinen
Orchestra/Ensemble:  New Jersey Percussion Ensemble
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1976; USA 

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