Posted inInterview

What Ebbs Away

Composer Donnacha Dennehy writes music inflected by the overtone harmonies of the French spectralists and the propulsive rhythms of American minimalism, a combination resulting in something all his own. It’s a captivating blend that perceives the hypnotic thread uniting two genres often considered at odds (and whose practitioners were frequently dismissive of one another). I […]

Posted inOpinion

The Problem with Peter

Rain is hardly a deterrent in Paris. It’s opening night for a new staging of the John Adams warhorse “Nixon in China,” and the imposing stone walls of the Opéra Bastille are framed by a quickly-brewing storm. Under trickling March skies, the house bears an uncanny resemblance to the military stronghold from which it gets […]

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The Sounding Organism

Immediately recognizable in Greek-French composer Georges Aperghis’s works are moments of startling, absurd and often witty theater. In his famous “Récitations” for solo female voice, sensual incantations expand and contract, pyramid-like, on the page and in time; “Les guetteurs de sons” (for three percussionists) delights in the play of sound, movement, and expectation created by […]

Posted inEssay

How to Measure Love

New music mourns with a strange and violent passion. Each announcement of the death of a major composer sparks a river of public grief that is always torrential at its mouth—floods of tributes, letters, anecdotes, love notes, lessons, all offered in the reification of the dead. In the days that follow, the artist’s work receives […]

Posted inEssay

Curiosity Without Limit

One day, I asked György Ligeti a question that had been troubling me for a long time: Did his constant need to break artistic barriers, either instrumental or musical-linguistic, stem from the traumas he had endured in his youth, creating an existential need for transgression? His response was a resounding “yes.” The unbearable ordeals that […]

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Une curiosité sans limites

Je lui ai un jour posé la question qui me taraudait depuis longtemps : son constant besoin de dépasser les frontières artistiques, instrumentales ou musicolinguistiques avait-il comme origine les traumatismes qui ont bouleversé sa jeunesse, engendrant un besoin existentiel de transgression ? Sa réponse a été indubitablement positive. Les épreuves insoutenables qu’il a vécues pendant la Deuxième […]

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Trust the Truths

Can an opera album stand on its own as an opera? I listened to Christopher Cerrone’s 58-minute “In a Grove” while walking in Nebraska. I passed a deserted main street, barking dogs tied to porches, children learning to bike, and Trump 2024 signs, while listening to the story of a murder. Based on the Ryūnosuke […]

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Breaking Points

Cassandra Miller is all process. It’s not the same word that Steve Reich thought a gradual, directional inch through time, but something more all-encompassing, that goes far beyond any finished product. In the past few years, process and its verb-y associates–transcribing, improvising, collaborating, balancing, musicking–have become the primary concerns in Miller’s creative life.  Though this […]

Posted inPlaylist

An Alternative Minimalism Playlist

The story of musical minimalism has been told many, many times—and for good reason. Emerging from the New York and San Francisco countercultures of the 1960s and quickly becoming an international phenomenon, minimalism’s hypnotic drones and toe-tapping pulses represent the rare avant-garde idiom that is both experimental and popular. Historians of minimalism have typically focused […]

Posted inInterview

In Constant Motion

The performance began with a scream. Or was it a bang, followed by the cry of the wind? In the next half-hour, recorder player Dora Donata Sammer whistled, bleated, cried, crowed, whirred, rattled, purred, hummed, sang, and chirped her way through repertoire from the Baroque to the contemporary, from the Renaissance soprano recorder to the […]

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