“So, what kind of music do you write?”
Second only to “do you hear everything in your head before you write it?” this is THE question for the composer! It should be one I love to answer, a big fat softball right down the middle. Unfortunately I don’t have a pithy answer. I like intimate chamber music but also the sounds of tight big-band playing, the wind ensemble but also the orchestra, the trumpet’s straight mute but also the plunger. So let’s get right to it: name five composers you dig. Ready? Go.
Messiaen Andriessen Reich Kurtág Mingus
FIRST STEPS IN RECOMMENDED LISTENING
Mingus is a genius in the form arena: right up there with Stravinsky when it comes to juxtaposing tempos and ideas.
Kurtág – Scenes from a Novel
Oh my god. Intelligent commentary coming soon, I just need to recover for a second.
Reich – Double Sextet
Reich has always been a melodist. I hear melodies in Four Organs rising out of the releases, and Different Trains pries little melodies out of bits of speech. But here he lets loose with melody while still delivering crunching piano chords, glistening high clarinet and cello sonorities, and bass lines like no other. The bass line, man, is where it’s at.
Andriessen – “Bells for Haarlem”
I developed an analysis of Hout recently in a Schenker seminar. Wild stuff. But everyone talks about the loud and fast Andriessen. Let’s not forget his softer touch, and for that here’s a beautiful piece for glockenspiel, vibraphone, celesta, piano, and synthesizer.
Messiaen – Quartet for the End of Time
Hearing this piece live was worth sitting through some abominable hoedown piece that preceded it on a chamber music program in Portland. Definitely get out and see it sometime–it’s fairly widely performed.
B. A. Zimmermann: Requiem für einen jungen Dichter
Marc Mellits: String Quartet No. 2
Bernhard Lang: Monadologie IV
Eve Beglarian: I Really am a Very Simple Person
Arvo Pärt: Fratres
Michael van der Aa: Transit
John Adams: The Dharma at Big Sur
Kyle Gann: Sunken City
Michael Gordon: Yo Shakespeare
Nick Didkovksy: Birds By Their Feet Men By Their Tongue
Edgar Varèse: Octandre
Morton Feldman – Neither
Klas Torstensson – Self-portrait with Percussion
Kitty Brazelton – Come Spring
Steve Lehman – Echoes
Roberto Sierra – 2×3
Luigi Dallopiccola – Quaderno Musicale di Annalibera
Carl Ruggles – Angels
Evan Ziporyn/Noyoman Windha – Kekembangan
Steven Mackey – Dreamhouse
Iannis Xenakis – Pleiades
Hans Otte – The Book of Sounds
Witold Lutoslawski – Venetian Games
Darcy James Argue – Zeno
Leo Brouwer – Cuban Landscape with Rumba
John Cage – Credo in US (from Banglewood 2011!)
Dmitri Shostakovich – Symphony No. 14