BMOP/sound's latest release, John Cage: Sixteen Dances, highlights one of the most significant and influential American composers of the 20th century. A long-time collaborator with dancer and choreographer Merce Cunningham, John Cage wrote a number of works which reflected their radical ideas regarding the relationship between dance and music. Sixteen Dances is one such work, developed through the use of chance operations, a compositional process involving methods such as coin tossing and the I Ching or Book of Changes.
La Passione features four works by one of today's most significant international new music figures.
BMOP/sound's release features John Harbison's Full Moon in March, an emblematic ritual-opera, the libretto of which is adapted from the poem, A Full Moon in March, by W.B. Yeats. Sinister and moody in its musical palette, Gil Rose skillfully leads BMOP with soloists Lorraine DiSimone (mezzo-soprano), James Maddalena (baritone), Anne Harley (soprano), and Frank Kelley (tenor), in a tour de force performance of a great 20th century literary work.
BMOP/sound's latest release, David Rakowski: Winged Contraption, is a compilation of three profound compositions by one of this generation's most visible American composers. Winged Contraption is Rakowski's playful and ebullient tribute to composer and friend Martin Boykan, and Persistent Memory provides a counterbalance with its reflective and melancholic tenor. The Piano Concerto, which draws upon the composer's own études, ushers forth teasing and surrealistic elements with the appearance of toy piano in each movement.
Charles Fussell's High Bridge, Portrait of Hart Crane and Wilde are the result of considering the lives of Hart Crane and Oscar Wilde as possible operatic subjects. Filled with complex and dramatic emotional references, both works are musical exposés of the instability and disquiet that plagued these two celebrated literary figures. High Bridge portrays Crane's erratic behavior in an orchestral prelude, whereas Wilde is a more extended operatic reflection on the writer's tragic life.
Voices is a compilation of three orchestral works and one solo piece by Derek Bermel. Seductively called his "spectral potion," Elixir reflects Bermel's influences as varied as John Lennon, Charles Ives, and the Isley Brothers. Thracian Echoes embraces the soulful harmonies of traditional Bulgarian melodies whereas Dust Dances is a translation of an African gyil music session into orchestral idioms. In Voices, Bermel himself performs the brilliantly written concerto for clarinet with impressive virtuosity.
Lukas Foss's The Prairie is a secular oratorio based on Carl Sandburg's epic poem of the same name. Drawing upon Sandburg's journey through the landscape and lives of the Midwest in the 1900s, Foss has embarked on a journey of his own, creating an iconic work of American classical music that embodies the hardships and optimism that defined a generation of men and women braving industrialization in America.
Our American Cousin is a monumental work of American contemporary opera, which draws upon the tragic events of Abraham Lincoln's assassination. A collaborative invention of composer Eric Sawyer and librettist John Shoptaw, the opera juxtaposes past with present, comedy with tragedy, musical period references with operatic genre pieces, all within a language of lyrical extended tonality.
Lee Hyla's epic Lives of the Saints is a set of psychological character studies filled with fierce musical and spiritual imagination, inspired by a diverse group of 13th- and 14th-century writings by or about saints. Through his masterful composition of colors, textures, and rhythmic impulses, Hyla evokes a landscape of torment, delirium, and ecstasy. The lyrical At Suma Beach (based on a Noh play) provides a satisfying contrast to Lives's turbulence.
BMOP/sound's latest release is the first compilation album of Gunther Schuller's works for the legendary Modern Jazz Quartet. Creator of the "Third Stream," Schuller is a master of weaving the structural complexities found in contemporary classical music with the improvisational elements of jazz. Reminiscent of Prokofiev's Peter and the Wolf, Journey into Jazz is the story of Eddy Jackson, a boy who is introduced to and learns to play jazz. Schuller himself narrates the work, which was written by famed jazz critic and author Nat Hentoff.