Saturday, April 25, 2015



April 23, 2015
Nick Norton, John Teske, Nat Evans
Chapel Performance Space, Good Shepherd Center, Seattle

New Forest - Nat Evans

We arrived about 20 minutes in, so the first experience was simply that of entering a room from which a particular color of quietness emanated. Upon this fabric was set, at long intervals, a couple of older jazz recordings. There was enough space between these that they didn't become the main focus, but operated as markers, cairns, a known place for our own calibration.

Does it help, or is it essential, to know certain facts about a music in order to perceive it most clearly? I had known a little going in: that it involved field recordings made on Nat's recent trek on the Pacific Coast Trail. In the notes it is disclosed that these particular recordings are from forest areas that had been clearcut in the '40s or '50s, and that the recordings are 78s inherited from Nat's grandfather, who studied forestry at about that time. This is all interesting from a journalistic perspective, but I remain skeptical that the knowledge of it improves the aesthetic experience.

For my part, the hardcore interaction between the presence of the forest sound as it fell into distance and the etched surface of the surfacing past of the 78s sound was the big hit. The rest is just part of what it took Nat to get there, it isn't the there. It is important to Nat's relation to his work, but not necessarily to ours.

Texture Sketch I - Nick Norton
Allison Fann, viola; Ivan Arteaga, alto saxophone; Nick Norton, guitar; Neil Welch, tenor saxophone; Peter Tracy, cello; John Teske, double bass

A skein that tightens as it rises.

All The Wrong Notes - Nick Norton
Cristina Valdes, piano

Two-fisted piano writing written, apparently, in order for there to be another piece of two-fisted piano music. Cristina was fabulous as always, but this one failed to convince.

topographies - John Teske
same personnel as in Texture Sketch I

I have been a map nut from a tender age, so this piece plugs into several of my nerd-nodes. In the observation of landforms we can surmise numerous processes and forces and materials at work. Maps are abstracts of the results, representations of several dimensions of data on a surface. Those abstractions are used as a stimulus to other forces, processes and personalities (with all their inscrutable complexities) in order to produce a sound which is itself an abstraction of all the underlying data and which, as it presents itself in time, comes across as nothing so much as landforms made audible.

It was a pleasure to hear these again.


April 18, 2015
Symphony #3 op. 27 "Sinfonia Espansiva" - Carl Nielsen - Danish Radio Symphony Orchestra, Yuri Ahronovitch

This is big drama music that doesn't behave like a stage drama. It is more high steel than Macbeth. Its parts don't fit together with specious inevitablity, but are set against each other and folded into each other curatorially. Each episode is enlivened inside itself rather than tensing us into looking where we are going. No matter where one listens in this music it is as though there were a ripple in the glass. Nothing can be heard straight.

Karol Szymanowski
Violin Concerto #1 - Karol Szymanowski - Czech Philharmonic Orchestra, Jan Krenz, Shizuka Ishikawa

As though Wagner's forest bird had wandered into the first scene of Pelleas and never recovered.

April 20, 2015
Symphony in B-flat (#2) - Albert Roussel - Orchestre National de France, Charles Dutoit

Begins by repeatedly breaking from darkness into darkness. It eventually bursts into energy, though it never escapes the morass.

Tapiola - Jean Sibelius - Boston Symphony Orchestra, Colin Davis

Threadbare, stained, faded. Worn utterly away in many places, in others preserved in sudden flashes from another realm. This fairy tale is less Disney, more Grimm.

Concerto in B-flat (#4) op. 53 - Serge Prokofiev - Polish Radio National Symphony Orchestra, Antoni Wit, Kun Woo Paik

Punched, squeezed, and shoved into place. Build them, put them on a shelf. There they stay.

April 21, 2014
Symphony #4 -  Dmitri Shostakovich - Moscow Philharmonic Symphony Orchestra, Kiril Kondrashin

An immense quantity of individual rooms, voices speaking in layers of imperiled code. Not heartfelt because it can't be. Intricately speaking to its own inability to speak.

William Bergsma
April 22, 2014
Gold and The Señor Commandante Ballet Suite - William Bergsma - Eastman-Rochester Symphony Orchestra, Howard Hanson

One regret I have looking back on my years at the UW was that I never took any classes from William Bergsma. Here it is demonstrated that he composed the Jaws not safe in the water right now theme several decades before it wasn't safe in the water anymore. The wickedly fabulous Eastman-Rochester crew sound great here, engineered so that the dynamic contrasts take your breath away.

Symphony #2 - Roger Sessions - New York Philharmonic, Dimitri Mitropoulos

Muscular, taut, frenetic - all apropos of 1946.

String Quartet #1 - Elliott Carter - Julliard String Quartet

Pushing the extremes of voice/instrument integrity and contrapuntal independence, with a gut punch intensity.

Blueberry Hill - Fats Domino [collected from Dave Marsh's Heart of Rock and Soul]

Smooth and solid. Nothing stands out until the last drum bang.

Klavierstuck 10 - Karlheinz Stockhausen - Aloys Kontarsky

A discourse on our sense of quantity. Some aspects are clearly numerable. Others are clearly not.

In Session at the Tintinabulary

April 19, 2015
Duet 150419 - Keith Eisenbrey

I was on vacation this week so I was very busy. This first duet features my mom's nylon string guitar (Franciscan) and the contents of the big red bag of fun.

April 20, 2015
Gradus 264 - Neal Kosály-Meyer

If the piano keyboard represents a binary numbering system (played = 1, not played = 0), then each combination can be represented by a quantity. We could do math!

April 21, 2015
Duet 150421 - Keith Eisenbrey

This day's duet was with upright grand piano (1908 Kingsbury) in need of tuning, and snare drum (Gretsch).

April 22, 2015
Duet 150422 - Keith Eisenbrey

Viola and pendant pot lids.

April 23, 2015
Duet 150423 - Keith Eisenbrey

Acoustic guitar with pickup (Mitchell) through a Sunn amp, paired with a locally made wood-body drum (Sawatch).

Études d'exécution imminent - Keith Eisenbrey

This was my last composition before I went on a self-imposed sabbatical last Spring. I am fascinated with music that lives at the edge of its own beingness - pieces that are only just barely pieces, or perhaps aren't quite. I've been working them up for presentation next August, and took the opportunity afforded by my vacation to record them.

April 24, 2015
Duet 150424 - Keith Eisenbrey

Solid body electric guitar (Peavey) on long-term loan from my brother Paul, and bodhrán. I learned (while making sure I spelled that correctly) that the little wooden beater is called a 'tipper'. I turned the amp up pretty loud.

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