Archive for the 'contemporary European' Category



Renaud Gagneux – Musiques sur la Place

Renaud Gagneux – Musiques sur la Place 7-in front cover
Renaud Gagneux – Musiques sur la Place 7-in back cover
Renaud Gagneux – Musiques sur la Place 7-in side A

Another single in the Sonoriage series on Le Chant Du Monde (see previous post), with the same motto of “Pour une initiation active à l’écoute et à la lecture de la musique d’aujourd’hui née de l’attention à l’environnement sonore quotidien” (or, Introduction to today’s music based on special awareness to everyday sounds).

Renaud Gagneux

♫ This disc is played on one of the best Parisian carillons at Saint Germain L’Auxerois church, near Le Louvre museum – the exact adress is 2 Place du Louvre, hence the title Musiques sur la PlaceRenaud Gagneux (pictured right) is the titular carillonist player there since 1970. The music on this disc integrates environemental sounds like street noises, passers-by, car engines or regular monthly alert sirens, with carillon strokes and carillon music by Gagneux, Louis Couperin and Olivier Bernager. French contemporary music composer Renaud Gagneux, born 1947, studied with Stockhausen, André Jolivet and Olivier Messiaen, among others. In 1970, he became a member of Pierre Mariétan‘s Groupe d’Etude et de Réalisation Musicale (GERM) along Jean-Yves Bosseur, Gérard Frémy and Philippe Drogoz, and in 1972, he integrated Pierre Schaeffer’s INA-GRM institution. In addition to being an educator, Gagneux composes electroacoustic music, string quartets, chamber music and opera.

Musiques Sur La Place, side A (5:50)

  • Cloche à la volée : “Marie” de Saint-Germain-l’Auxerrois + ambient sounds
  • Indicatif au carillon automatique + ambient sounds (1:00)
  • Heure au bourdon et alerte
  • Air des moissonneurs (Louis Couperin) + ambient sounds (2:00)

Musiques Sur La Place, side B (4:30)

  • Gamme lente (Olivier Bernager)

Renaud Gagneux, carillon, field recordings

Total time 10:20
7in released by Le Chant Du Monde, France, 1985

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Dreamtiger – East-West Encounters

Dreamtiger – East-West Encounters LP front cover
Dreamtiger – East-West Encounters LP back cover
Dreamtiger – East-West Encounters LP side 1

Dreamtiger was a British contemporary music ensemble led by composer Douglas Young and featuring pianist Peter Hill, flutist Kathryn Lukas and cellist Rohan de Saram, among others [see my Wikipedia article for details]. Despite the prestigious cast and the number of concerts and tours they performed between 1974 and 1984, Dreamtiger left surprisingly few traces on the web and in reference books. Published in 1982, East-West Encounters was the ensemble’s unique LP – a marvelous collection of Eastern-influenced works by 20th century composers, including masterpieces that found their way in the classical canon–, based on Dreamtiger’s 1980 U.K. tour repertoire.

The enchanting Balinese Ceremonial Music of US composer Colin MacPhee (1900-1964) is an adaptation of gamelan music for two pianos inspired by his intermittent stays on the island between 1932 and 1938 [on MacPhee, see previous post]. MacPhee’s intimate knowledge of Balinese vernacular music is palpable throughout this colorful microtonal reverie in three parts (Pemoengkah, Gambangan, Taboeh Teloe). Balinese Ceremonial Music was first recorded by the composer and Benjamin Britten at the piano on a Schirmer’s Library of Recorded Music 78rpm disc published in 1941 – see video below.

Douglas Young‘s Trajet/Inter/Lignes for solo flute and small percussion was premiered in 1981 by flutist Kathryn Lukas. The latter’s nuanced and sensible approach brings incredible presence and liveliness to these rarefied, aural ideograms. Undertaken in 1986, Peter Hill‘s complete recordings of Messiaen’s piano music for British label Unicorn-Kanchana are a reference for the warmth and humanity they brought – sounding more like André Jolivet and less Darmstadt, if you get the idea. This 1982 version of Cantéyodjayâ, is different, less authoritative and 2mns longer than the 1986 version. Finally, the Dreamtiger ensemble offers a fine rendition of the classic Vox Balaenae, George Crumb‘s poetic evocation of whale songs.

  1. Colin McPheeBalinese Ceremonial Music (10:30)
    Douglas Young, Peter Hill, pianos
  2. Douglas YoungTrajet/Inter/Lignes (13:49)
    Kathryn Lukas, flute
    Douglas Young, percussion
  3. Olivier MessiaenCantéyodjayâ (13:42)
    Peter Hill, piano
  4. George CrumbVox Balaenae (The Voice of the Whale) (19:30)
    Kathryn Lukas, flute
    Peter Hill, piano
    Rohan de Saram, cello

Total time 57:30
LP released by Cameo Classics, Manchester, UK, 1982

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James Nightingale – Pandorasbox

James Nightingale - Pandorasbox LP front cover
James Nightingale - Pandorasbox LP back cover
James Nightingale - Pandorasbox LP side 1

Born in 1948, Los Angeles accordionist James Nightingale premiered several works for accordion by contemporary composers in the 1970s, for which he earned a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship-Grant in 1975. Also in 1975, he took part to the first International Accordion Symposium in Toronto, Canada, directed by Joseph Macerollo. In 1976, he created the Los Angeles Accordion Arts Society. In 1977, his version of Mauricio Kagel’s Pandorasbox adapted for accordion appeared on an Orion Master Recordings LP. Recently, Nightingale played saxophone on Andrew Ford’s A Martian Sends a Postcard Home CD published by Australian label Tall Poppies in 1999, and was involved in music theatre projects like the 2003 opera for children The Adventures of the Black Dot (see here).

James Nightingale with harpist Lou Anne NeilJames Nightingale during the recording of Per Nørgård's ArcanaJames Nightingale with accordionist Barbara Beisch

♫ On this fine LP, James Nightingale takes full advantage of the Free bass accordion, which is generally used in the context of contemporary music. It allows the player greater flexibility on the left-hand buttonboard and a range of 3 octaves, compared to the traditional accordion with its limited range and preset chords. In addition, most tracks on this LP are recorded with an amplified accordion to which it is easy to add sound effects or ring modulation, a technique popularized by George Crumb’s Black Angels string quartet (1970) for electrified string and glass instruments.

The LP opens with an exquisite harp and accordion duet, titled Entente, composed by Nightingale himself in 1971. Wonderfully recorded, the piece exposes with some refinement the similarities in resonances from both instruments, as well as their capacity to create bold tone clusters. Arcana, composed in 1970 by Danish composer Per Nørgård (b1932), is a joyous carousel of complex, whirling rhythm patterns for three similarly pitched instruments (accordion, electric guitar and small percussion like vibraphone, marimba or drums). On Dinosaurus, also from 1970, Arne Nordheim uses a pre-recorded tape of treated accordion sounds and noises, in a surrealist dialogue with Nightingale’s live instrument. Originally written for David Tudor,  Mauricio Kagel‘s Pandorasbox, written 1962, is a colouful and playful scenario for accordion, voice, and inside the piano resonances. Close to German Musik Theater, it goes through many theatrical gestures and contrasted moments. US composer Richard Grayson uses ring modulation rather sparingly during most of his composition for 2 accordions titled Promenade, composed 1977, except near the end of the piece, where both instruments produce unexpected, grotesque, supernatural sounds.

  1. James Nightingale Entente (8:28)
    J.N., accordion
    Lou Anne Neil, harp
  2. Per Nørgård Arcana (13:2)
    J.N., accordion
    Stuart Fox, electric guitar
    Tom Collier, percussion
  3. Arne Nordheim Dinosaurus (9:37)
    J.N., accordion
    Arne Nordheim and Mogens Ellegaard, tape
  4. Mauricio Kagel Pandorasbox (9:04)
    J.N., accordion
  5. Richard Grayson Promenade (7:44)
    J.N., accordion+ring modulator
    Barbara Beisch, accordion+ring modulator

Total time 48:05
LP released by Orion Master Recordings, Malibu, CA, 1977

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Siegfried Naumann – Orgelwerk

Siegfried Naumann - Orgelwerk LP front cover
Siegfried Naumann - Orgelwerk LP back cover
Siegfried Naumann - Orgelwerk LP side A

Siegfried NaumannSwedish composer Siegfried Naumann (1919-2001) studied music in Stockholm, Salzburg and Rome, with teachers as diverse as Hermann Scherchen, Wilhelm Furtwängler or Francesco Malipiero. He started lecturing music in Stockholm in 1963 until his retirement in 1983. In 1962, Naumann founded the Musica Nova music ensemble with which he released one LP on Caprice in 1975.  Naumann composed for all kinds of formations (except opera), including choral, church and organ music. Info in Swedish here.

♫ In Organum (1977), Neumann uses a personal graphic notation named “precise notation” allowing him to notate complex rhythms and wide intervals. The 10 études named Struktur #1 to 10 explore the entire range of Stockholm’s Sankt Matteus kyrka organ, and all the interpret’s possibilities in terms of amplitude, virtuoso pedal work and tone clusters to be played with the forearm. The cycle also calls for glockenspiel and bell sounds in #10, all played by an assistant. As the various sections of Organum greatly vary in sound amplitude, from pianissimo to fff fortes, it is recommended to check the volume level of your playback system with track #4, which is on forte throughout. In the colorful Bombarda, for organ and percussion, composed 1973, the 2 instruments are set far apart from each other and the recording wonderfully documents this agitated, yet remote dialogue.

Organum op 33:
01 Struktur 1 (1:36)
02 Struktur 2 (4:06)
03 Struktur 3 (3:46)
04 Struktur 4 (1:54)
05 Struktur 5 (4:42)
06 Struktur 6 (3:32)
07 Struktur 7 (1:13)
08 Struktur 8 (1:49)
09 Struktur 9 (2:11)
10 Struktur 10 (3:47)
11 Bombarda op 27 (7:13)
12 Strutture per Giovanni op 9 (6:00)

Erik Lundkvist, organ
Björn Liljequist, percussion (#11)

Total time 41:49
LP released by Caprice, ref. CAP 1175, Sweden, 1981

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Luigi Nono – Non Consumiamo Marx

Luigi Nono – Non Consumiamo Marx LP front cover
Luigi Nono – Non Consumiamo Marx LP back cover
Luigi Nono – Non Consumiamo Marx LP side A

During the 1960s, in addition to his boycott of official, bourgeois concert venues, Luigi Nono (1924-1990) abandoned orchestral music in favor of works for magnetic tape, supposedly easier to set up in the streets or in factories on light PA systems, as the composer wanted to connect with workers directly. Accordingly, in 1968, Nono decided to boycott the Venice Biennale, which was considered by leftists a “fortress of bourgeois art”. The 1968 Biennale was marked by student protest, gallery occupation and violent riot police confrontations (see pictures below). In 1969, Nono used audio recordings from these events in Non Consumiamo Marx, or Don’t Consume Marx, to protest against the compulsory Biennale. Both Un Volto, Del Mare and Non Consumiamo Marx were premiered at Fête de l’Huma in 1969, the annual French Communist Party festival, where Nono was invited as a member of the Central Committee of the Italian Communist Party. Those were the days…


Above: events at St Mark’s Square and gallery occupation, Venice, 1968

Though both sides of this LP are dubbed Musica Manifesto No.1 and 2, the two tracks are actually quite different. Un Volto, Del Mare, 1968, for soprano, reader and tape was conceived at Studio di Fonologia Musicale of the RAI radio in Milano (visit here). The text is from Cesare Pavese’s Il Mattino, included in his book Lavorare Stanca (Hard Labor), 1936, expanded 1943. Soprano Cadigia Bove premiered several Nono pieces of the period, like A Floresta É Jovem E Cheja De Vida (1966) or Contrappunto dialettico alla mente (1967). On Un Volto,…, she contributes wordless, ethereal vocals with added sound treatment, which, along the electronic drone sounds, serve as a lyrical background to the neutral reading. The result is a serene, contemplative setting of the original poem. The monolithic Non Consumiamo Marx, composed 1969, is based on readings from slogans used during the May 1968 Paris riots, along a background of recordings made during the 1968 Venice Biennale protestations. The music consists of a noisy electroacoustic montage of protestation sounds with dense electronic drones, mixed in a rather aggressive way. The uncompromising music deliciously approximates street riots between your ears.

[Thanks to Giuseppe for his help with this post]

  1. Un Volto, Del Mare (16:25)
    Liliana Poli, reader
    Cadigia Bove, soprano
    Luigi Nono, composer, electronic sounds, magnetic tape
  2. Non Consumiamo Marx (16:54)
    Edmonda Aldini, reader
    Luigi Nono, composer, electronic sounds, magnetic tape

Total time 33:19
LP released by I Dischi Del Sole, Italy, 1969

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Zoltán Jeney – s/t 1979 LP

Zoltán Jeney s/t LP front cover
Zoltán Jeney s/t LP back cover
Zoltán Jeney s/t LP side B

A founding member of the New Music Studio along László Vidovsky, Péter Eötvös and László Sáry, Zoltán Jeney (born 1943) was one of the composers who, thanks to his trips to Rome, Darmstadt, Stockholm, Warsaw, Paris, etc, as a performer or composer, helped update Hungarian music with contemporary Western techniques like serialism, aleatoric or electronic music, and free local composers from the influence of Bartok and Kodaly. In the 1970s, Jeney transcribed found texts, meteorological data, solitaire and chess games moves or telexes into music and, under the influence of John Cage, Christian Wolff, Morton Feldman and Oriental philosophy, composed a series of minimalist works for unusual instrumentation, a selection of which is offered on this disc.

♫ This 1979 LP, one of the most radical on Hungaroton’s catalog at the time, collects compositions from 1973-78, with members of the New Music Studio performing under Jeney’s direction. Impho 102-6 is a timeless, repetitive piece played on shimmering and resonating metallic plates. Orpheus’ Garden is a peaceful and subdued composition for a small orchestra of 8 instruments, each competing in playing the softest notes possible from their respective instrument, in a very Feldman-esque configuration. The quite uncompromising and radical A Hundred Years’ Average confronts computer sine waves with viola glissandos processed through ring modulator, before the solo piano of End Game returns to Morton Feldman influences.

  1. Impho 102-6 (9:19)
    For six ancient plates
  2. Orpheus’ Garden (15:14)
    For 8 instruments (flute, piano, electric organ,
    clarinet, harpsichord, cello, viola, accordion)
  3. A Hundred Years’ Average (18:00)
    For viola, 2 sine wave generators and ring modulator
  4. End Game (7:52)
    For piano

Total time 50:25
LP released by Hungaroton, Budapest, Hungary, 1979

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More Hungaroton on Continuo’s:

  • István Szigeti ‘Elektroakusztikus művek’ >
  • László Sáry ‘Öt Melankólikus Ének’ >
  • Márta Fábián ‘Contemporary Hungarian Cimbalom Music vol. 1′ >
  • Márta Fábián ‘Contemporary Hungarian Cimbalom Music vol. 2′  >

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Jean Guillou – Biloulou Safari

Jean Guillou - Biloulou Safari LP front cover
Jean Guillou - Biloulou Safari LP back cover
Jean Guillou - Biloulou Safari LP side A

Rare film music by French organist Jean Guillou, born 1930, famous for his disheveled improvisations at the organ of Saint Eustache church in Paris, and for his Visions Cosmiques LP on Philips’ Prospective 21e Siècle series. There’s a detailed English biography of Guillou on this page. Biloulou Safari is the soundtrack to Marcel Isy-Schwart‘s film titled Congo-Safari., presumably a documentary shot in Congo around 1972. The disc was issued by Sinfonia in France, though produced by Ansonia Records in the USA, both labels being world and dance music specialists. Both sides of Biloulou Safari feature church organ improvisations very likely recorded on Saint Eustache’s organ, of which Guillou is titular since 1963.

Biloulou Safari OST
01 Side A (25:35)
02 Side B (26:21)

Total time 51:56
LP released by Sinfonia, ref. SLP 1014, France, 1972(?)

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Giorgio Gaslini – Segnali

Giorgio Gaslini - Segnali LP front cover
Giorgio Gaslini - Segnali LP back cover
Giorgio Gaslini - Segnali LP side A

Giorgio GasliniMilanese jazz pianist Giorgio Gaslini, born 1929, led a successful career in jazz, film soundtrack and contemporary music. In the 1960s, his contemporary music compositions were published by Milan-based label Durium (Composizioni Cameristiche, 1966,  Grido, 1968, Segnali, 1968). In 1960, he famously composed the unforgettable music to Michelangelo Antonioni’s film La Notte, a deep, melancholic paean to night life. Gaslini went on to collaborate with film makers Carlo Lizzani and Dario Argento – he wrote half of the soundtrack for Profondo Rosso with Goblin in 1975, for instance. See Gaslini’s official website for more info.

♫ Published in 1968, this disc gathers three of Giorgio Gaslini’s contemporary music compositions of the 1960s. A masterful aural perambulation led by an unnamed rhapsode, Segnali, written in 1966 for solo oboe, is a succession of mysterious, semaphoric notes forming a captivating network of poetic pointillism. The instrument may sound hieratic and ancient, yet its sharp notes unmissably resonate in the present time like a warning. Canto dalla città Inquieta (or Song of the Worried City) is the fifth movement of Totale I, a large composition in 5 parts for orchestra and tape written 1965-66. Canto… artfully fuses pre-recorded sounds with orchestral interjections to create a disturbing soundscape inspired by a cityscape, according to the title. The tape parts include various noises, street sounds, film dialogues, children’s choir, and are used as a constant background, like in Luigi Nono’s Intolleranza 1960 (1961) or A floresta é jovem e cheja de vida (1966) – minus the dialectics, that is. Composed in 1968, Una specialità delle Cantine Verità is a miniature opera with a cast of 4 performers, a soprano singer and 3 instrumentists. The scene takes place in 1942 in a cabaret where five Italians, all played by the singer, “mauled and exhausted by war, express their pain, their nostalgia, their fears and helplessness” about war (from liner notes). Lyrics come from various texts by Bertold Brecht, Marko Angelow and Giorgio Gaslini himself. The 3 instrumentists double as protagonists as well, and harp, oboe and acoustic guitar seem to reply and dialogue with the singer in a performance that is thus very close to musical theatre.

01 Segnali (16:20)
Alberto Caroldi, oboe

02 Canto dalla città Inquieta – for orchestra and tape (11:24)
International Chamber Ensemble
Giorgio Gaslini, conductor

03 Una specialità delle Cantine Verità – pocket opera (12:43)
Françoise Rousseau, soprano
Lidia Borri Motola, harp
Alfio Gerbi, oboe
Alan O’Casy, guitar
Giorgio Gaslini, conductor

Total time 40:27
LP released by Durium, ref. ms AI 77190, Milan, Italy, 1968

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