April 12, 2014
A Cat's Life
A piano Recital by Keith Eisenbrey, with special guest Olivia Sterne
Chapel Performance Space, Good Shepherd Center, Seattle
Attitude (Two soloists punch their way out of a paper bag) - Doug Palmer
Greek Nickel #2 - J. K. Randall
Sonata - Aaron Keyt
A Cat's Life, a little opera for solo piano - Keith Eisenbrey
Herocat revisits the scene of the crime
After I was done and we were putting things away a resident cat came to inspect the piano.
Here are the program notes:
In spite of his unfailing attempts at self-deprecation, composer, instrument maker, and partially reformed auto mechanic Doug Palmer has emerged as a unique and valued voice in the Seattle new music community. Attitude began it's life as a duet for cello and piano, but when a cellist was not forthcoming I asked if he could rework the piece for solo piano. Its subtitle: two soloists punch their way out of a paper bag, is pretty much all the program notes you will need.
J. K. Randall has been such a powerful presence in American musical life for so long that it is difficult to overestimate his influence. He is among the first pioneers of computer-synthesized music. He taught many generations of composers and theoreticians at Princeton until his retirement in 1991. He is an inimitable writer, editor, theorist, and critic. Over the course of his long life he has collaborated with dozens of musicians, but his decades-long on-going conversation with Benjamin Boretz, in words spoken and printed as well as in music improvised and composed, stands as one of the most fruitful intellectual duets of our time. Typically, Greek Nickel #2 does not invite so much as demand engagement. The surface is spare and nearly void of rhetorical clues. What kind of a thing is it? I've been working on it for a year or more and I'm still not sure. We'll have to dive down pretty far, I think, so take a deep breath.
Aaron Keyt is a local composer. He studied composition at the UW and Princeton. He has composed for orchestra, chamber groups, and piano, as well as working with computer-generated and -modified materials. Along with Keith Eisenbrey and Neal Meyer, he is a founding member of the improvisational group Banned Rehearsal, now in its 30th year. Sonata (2012) is a hard-edged, unapologetic, neo-classical foray, modeled from movement to movement - with various schemes - on Haydn's Sonata in E, Hob.XVI:31. The most interesting aspect that shines through as a property of both is the peculiarity with which one phrase moves to the next - never exactly graceful or lyrical: more spidery, subtle, insurrectionary.
In writing A Cat's Life, I wanted to tell a story in music, using every time-honored rhetorical trick I could think of: long and short range key relationships, motivic recurrence and transformation, and of course words spoken out loud. Starting with the name of a friend's kitten (Heldenkitty), tale and music developed together: a fable of Herocat's life and death, his dreams and doubts, and even his great task (a double fugue, no less). Is it an opera? I think so, though perhaps only as a literary conceit. But what is opera after all, if not a literary conceit?
April 18, 2014
Victory Lounge, Seattle
A quartet of two-piece bands, HF and LP (hmm) share a drummer, LP and P share a guitarist.Squint a little and the line-up reads like the name of a law firm. K made a valiant attempt to conjure up a working jet engine by starting with the roar. HF dialed it back (a little). LP and P didn't so much dial it back up (though that too) as finesse the design.
Sociologically, these bands are essentially playing for their friends - a good many of whom are in other bands. To some extent the differences among them (especially notable in this line-up) have more to do with the particulars of the way each duo interacts with each other than with musical differences per se. K could be the cousins from Boise, the others a subset of the local poly-amorous sub-commercial rock scene, all getting together for a jamboree. There is apparently another music venue next door to VL, so there is also a steady stream of slightly differently costumed folks wandering in to use the ATM. A certain gymnastic ability is required if you want to squeeze past the band to get to the porch, which gets trickier the more you've had.
April 13, 2014
Polonaise in A-flat (1821) - Chopin - Peter Katin
If the date is to be believed, he would have been 11 or 12 when he wrote this. Already the paradigm is vocal, the left hand discreetly chunking along while the right hand sings.
Concerto in B minor, op. 7 - Paganini - London Philharmonic Orchestra, Charles Dutoit, Salvatore Accardo
A coloratura with superpowers. Paganini was one of the many composers who, envious of the attention and social power divas were drawing from audiences, absconded with the toolkit.
Papillons - Schumann - Peter Frankl
A set of waltz fragments that shifts gears so many times and turns so many corners it makes your head spin. It really shouldn't work at all, as a piece, but it does. There is a deep melody there whose notes are made from the angles between each phrase, each figure. Meta with capital M.
Remeniscences de Lucia di Lammermoor - Liszt - Alfred Brendel
Following in Paganini's footsteps to some extent, but Liszt didn't want to be just the singer, he wanted to be the whole opera, and not only to be that, but to be transfigured as well.
Overture from Der Fleigende Hollander - Wagner - Seattle Symphony Orchestra, Gerard Schwarz
April 14, 2014
La Damnation de Faust - Berlioz - London Symphony Orchestra, Colin Davis
First of all a complaint: Is that the conductor I hear moaning along with music? Sheesh.
As flabbergasting as Papillons, but on a massive scale. The individual numbers are set on inclines. New elements sneak in under cover, or from behind, or plop down, dis-ceremonious, into our laps. There are long stretches of terrifying immobility - no dance or counterpoint or long line to lead us here or there, just a fragmented bit of music . . . then another . . . then another . . . then another. Catastrophe might lurk in a single pianissimo note lingering ever so slightly too long, or a root position triad in not quite the right place. Not an easy listen, but hard to stop thinking about.
April 15, 2014
Scherzo in E-flat minor, op. 4 - Brahms - Julius Katchen
Offertorium 'Afferentur regi' - Bruckner - Chor des Bayerischen Rundfunks, Eugen Jochum
Overture on Russian Themes - Rimsky-Korsakov - Bochum Symphony, Othmar Maga
Another complaint, this time about the production: Every instrument is in your face and dynamic contrast is messily lost. I suppose this would help it to sound better on a bad radio, but I doubt R-K would approve.
Quartet in D Major - Tchaikovsky - Copenhagen String Quartet
The music is held in a tight grip. Individual straying is sternly tolerated and must return to the grip.
April 17 2014
Quartet in D Major - Borodin - Borodin Quartet
Imperial comfort music. Nothing gets in the way of the tune. Each function knows its place. Even when it's in canon with itself the moving parts carefully trade the spotlight. I must admit though, they're pretty great tunes.
Sonata in A Major - Franck - Jascha Heifetz, Artur Rubinstein
|Mt. Hood and Mt. Saint Helens, from the Wonderland Trail,|
Mount Rainier National Park - August 1976
Lines of hills interfolded into the distance.
Zwie Lieder - Mahler - [unlabeled]
Allegro Concert in B-flat minor op. 18 - Scriabin - Michael Ponti
You've Been a Good Old Wagon (But You Done Broke Down) - Len Spencer [from Allen Lowe's That Devilin' Tune]
St. Louis Rag - Pryor's Band [from Allen Lowe's That Devilin' Tune]
Valses nobles et sentimentales - Ravel - Vlado Perlemuter
It never occurred to me just how Schumannesque this is. A set of fancy waltzes like Papillons, but also a study in contrasting personalities. Ravel might have just as appropriately called it Eusebius et Florestan. A fancy clock with ports that open to views of its clockwork, and ports in its clockwork that open to views of itself at its clock work.
In Session at the Tintinabulary
April 13, 2014
Zuckerman 140413 - Keith Eisenbrey
Clavichord improvisation. Pretty happy with the sound.
May 2, 2014
Seattle Composers Salon
Chapel Performance Space, Good Shepherd Center, Seattle 8pm
I will be performing selections from my work in progress Études d'exécution imminente.
June 27, 2014 - 8 PM
Banned Rehearsal Celebrates 30 Years of Noise
Chapel Performance Space, Good Shepherd Center, Seattle