Daniel Goode

Composer & Performer

Tag: hollywood

Byron and Polansky, Maximalist Piano Music at Interpretations in Soho

March 17, 2011 11:51:10 PM EDT

Maybe it is or is not Kyle Gann’s definition of maximalist. But intensity of piano composition, played brilliantly by Kubera and Nonken, could qualify. Both composers winged into the air as Minimalism was fading into the sunset while flaccid Post Modernism rose in the East. They each took some major ideas from high minimalism: Polansky is one of the most versatile algorithmic composers, often using his own software inventions. Byron started out with some idiosyncratic “spacey” non-pulse related clouds of sounds and has become a rigorous modal moto perpetuo composer of a non-down beat variety. In fact in both Larry Polansky’s Three Pieces for Two Pianos and Michael Byron’s Book of Horizons (for piano solo) met in a kindred world of non-pulsed, two (or more in Polansky)-part counterpoint, rhapsodic, stretching toward but never reaching a cadential moment. They’ve been friends since they met in Toronto in the mid-1970’s. Christian Wolff’s Exercise 20 (Acres of Clams) was also played brilliantly by Nonkin and Kubera. Piano in a world of Internet and virtuality? Think again about what’s important. The object, the piano object, the former center of classical music composition, is back, never left, always inspiring new work. Larry links up to Jim Tenney. Michael seems sui generis to me, but at one time was part of the California minimalist scene, as was Peter Garland and a host of others, a master of it was Harold Budd. Sunset seems a fitting atmospheric, a tonal, sometimes romantic use of harmony put in new repetitive structures, not at all formalist, as was Steve Reich. And on and on. Try an adjective, or an analytic: “not-New York.” That was then.

Against Clichés about Mahler’s Music

July 2, 2011 4:01:06 PM EDT

Why should we care? Because some of us love the music. Some of us even commit that chauvinist crime of saying: “He’s the greatest Jewish composer” as if there were a contest out there. (He was reviled with anti-semitism in Vienna during his lifetime, especially around his directorship of the Vienna Court Opera). But two of the most progressive conductor’s, Leonard Bernstein and Michael Tilson Thomas (both Jewish), both of whom regarded Mahler as central to their lives, are just full of the usual clichés about him. Oh, like: that those wonderful and suggestive, disintegrating endings to his final works are “about death” or about his death. Well, maybe they are, but HE never said that. The latest slew of these interpretations came in a visually elegant public television program conceived by Tilson Thomas called “Keeping Score.” I won’t list instances here, maybe some other time. Actually the best one-liners came from the first clarinetist, Corey Bell, of the SF Symphony (featured in the film). He spoke about the “skin-of-your-teeth tonalities” in the Scherzo of the 7th Symphony, and of the “corners to hide out in.” Thomas does get off one perceptive analysis: tracing the use of the musical “turn” from Mahler’s first work, “Songs of a Wayfarer” to the final movements of his last two completed works. And the importance of the tone, A, in that early work and then in the climax of the first movement of his 10th Symphony.

A final shot of Thomas at Mahler’s grave in Grinzing, a suburb of Vienna, shows without comment, stones placed in the traditional Jewish manner on top of the Mahler’s gravestone. His remains were not allowed to be buried in the same cemetery as Beethoven and Schubert. “Those who love me will find me” he said. Thumbnail review.

Mavericks?—Still? – Review of a Flyer

February 25, 2012 5:04:40 PM EST

“American Mavericks” series. The usual suspects: Ives, Ruggles, Cage, Feldman, etc. plus whichever young(er) ones can be wedged in between those. So, then who are the un-mavericks? Copland? Or just other American composers not considered important nowadays, like Howard Hanson? I think “mavericks” are the American composers. I’ll be a little snarky and question John Adams as a “maverick.” LIke him or not (I like Shaker Loops), he seems more of a Copland/Hanson mix than a Cage/Ives kind of person.

“Who Changed Music Forever.” Well, not a claim I’d want to make about (again: like ’em or not) Mason Bates, David Del Tredici, Elliot Sharp, Jennifer Higdon, Missy Mazzoli. Martin Bresnick. Granted, maverick is a marketing term, and it’s been around for a long time to rope a bunch of composers together without otherwise branding them. But that was then (decade or so ago)… Ho hum now. And finally, every festival is political in that after the banner of great masters passes, others will be chosen by someone to fill in the ranks behind. The choosers are key to understanding this.

Thumbnail review of the brochure for Michael Tilson Thomas’s “American Mavericks,” March, 2012, New York.