100 Greatest Dance Hits
David Tanenbaum, guitar; The Chester Quartet; Aaron Berofsky, violin; David Harding, viola; Tom Rosenberg, cello; Christopher O'Riley, piano; Nancy Allen Lundy, soprano; John Dent, trumpet; Jeff Milarsky, glock & percussion; Benjamin Herman, glock; Leslie Stifelman, piano; Lisa Moore, piano; Kim Barber, mezzo-soprano; Kathleen Nester, flute; Larry Guy, clarinets; Anthony Cecere, horn; Mary Rowell, violin; Leslie Tomkins, viola; Tonya Tomkins, cello; Robert Black, bass; Susan Jolles, harp; Michael Barrett, conductor
... the most important young composer working in this country. Ambitious and witty, thoughtful and sensuous, alluring and provocative, his music grips both heart and mind. --San Francisco Chronicle
As the title of this album suggests, this is a compilation of the composer's lighter works. The pieces in this collection exhibit all the wit and ebullience of Classical-period divertimenti, but also the craftsmanship and earnestness associated with more serious musical essays. Even in a lighter vein, there is zeal in Kernis's compositional method, in the fastidious notation, the control over rhythm, and in the minutiae of instrumentation.
The label minimalist is so often misapplied as a mask for the vapid that it seems wrong to use the term in reference to Kernis's music. But there is an aspect of phase-shifting in Kernis's music that recollects the best exponents of that school -- from the out-of-synch pop refractions in America(n) (Day) Dreams to the aggregating ostinati in Nocturne.
Ultimately, Kernis's music rejects stylistic polemics, both the obscurantism of the Ivy Tower and the jejune blather of the New Age. The music is unconcerned with constructed historical exigencies and manifestos. Kernis listens to all he hears, and then writes his own music, full of warmth and humor -- eclectic in influence, but decidedly singular in voice.
Available here: Groove
Any Resemblance is Purely Coincidental
for computer, synthesized voice, piano & viola with Enrico Caruso, Baird Dodge, Alan Feinberg, Joan La Barbara
Like almost all of Dodge's music, the Elegy is restrained but romantic, elegantly controlled, moving.
--The New Yorker
If there is one piece identified with Dodge, a "signature" piece if you will, it would have to be "Any Resemblance..." which has those qualities that seem to imbue his work in general -- charm, wit, poignancy and technical brilliance. The texture is rich, the piano playing a dramatic and dynamic role, but there is never the sell out to the trickier potentials of an idea like this one. Dodge restrains, and the piece is informed with a sad, ironic wit which points to a profound realization. Both "Any Resemblance..." and "Speech Songs" share this centrality of theme which must have something to do with loneliness and searching. Actually, in "Any Resemblance..", not all is restraint; it is in fact thrilling when the voice and piano find each other in the 'climax'.
Enrico Caruso not only epitomizes the end of the Romantic era in music (as does the aria "Vesti la giubba") but he also represents the beginnng of the modern age in which practically all music becomes electronic, as he was one of the first musicians to become a best-selling recording artist. The composer has said that he has always wanted a great performer to play his music, and finally found one who was in no position to refuse. The idea of 'publicness' of the recording becomes a trope for Dodge, allowing him to make a statement about the 'loneliness of the great performer.' I think there is also a deeper level concerning the situation of any artist whose work must exist in the public domain but who must grapple with a core of loneliness.
Available here: iTunes
New Albion Records, Inc.