The Callithumpian Blog

Posts Tagged ‘boulez’

Countdown: Stockhausen/Boulez

In concerts, upcoming on February 24, 2011 at 5:33 pm

design © CPARK 2011

So, by now you’ve probably seen the posters and heard about this MANTRA / MARTEAU explosion we’re preparing on Wednesday, March 2nd — but what are these pieces all about?  For the questioning, ever-curious avant-garde enthusiasts out there, fear not: Prof. Adam Roberts, on board with us at Callithumpian while on faculty at Istanbul Technical University, has written an enlightening set of program notes, from which select excerpts are shared below:

Le Marteau consists of nine movements and sets three poems by the surrealist French poet René Char (1907-1988), “L’artisanat furieux”, “Bourreaux de solitude”, and “Bel édifice et les pressentiments”. While the contralto voice (and therefore sung text) is only present in the third, fifth, sixth, and ninth movements, each poem is used as a point of departure for multiple movements of the work, creating three unequal cycles. Le Marteau is striking in its percussion-heavy instrumentation, scored for contralto, alto flute, violin, guitar, vibraphone, xylorimba, and a variety of other percussion instruments… [creating] a spectrum of timbres from voice to percussion (i.e. breath, exemplified by voice and flute flow into solo lines played by flute and viola, which transform into plucked strings such as viola and guitar, which turn into resonating sounds played by the guitar and vibraphone, which finally, connect to struck instruments as in the vibraphone and xylorimba).  Each movement of Le Marteau is orchestrated differently, creating a sense of rotation, and the voice is often used in an instrumental manner. Due to its angular lyricism, exotic sound, and delicate beauty, Le Marteau has become one of the most performed works of its time.

Completed sixteen years later, Stockhausen’s Mantra is a work scored for two ring-modulated pianos, with each player also being equipped with a set of chromatic crotales, a wood block, and one player being equipped with a short-wave radio. Nearly 70 minutes long,  Mantra  is comprised of thirteen distinct sections, each emphasizing a different texture, character, and sound.  In fact, Mantra is the first of Stockhausen’s compositions to use what the composer calls a “formula”, a concept that replaces the notion of row, creating a new set of connotations around Stockhausen’s serialized materials (significantly, Stockhausen would compose with such “formulas” until the end of his life). Stockhausen’s formula is 13 notes long as it begins and ends with the note “A”, creating a sense of implied closure not previously found in serial structures. Each note of the formula also has an attached characteristic and each note is assigned a dynamic that is inversely proportional to its assigned duration. Each of the piece’s thirteen sections is dominated by one of the notes and its attached characteristics, creating a set of wild and distinctive musical experiences. Although it seems clear that the piece is highly structured, the most immediately striking aspect of the piece is its sound: the ring modulated pianos combined with percussive attacks create an otherworldly sonic space that is completely unique.”    — Adam Roberts

The countdown begins!  See you in Jordan Hall at 8pm on Wednesday, March 2nd for an experience extending to the stars and beyond.

Admission?  Free.


Mantra, Marteau

In concerts, upcoming, video on February 10, 2011 at 4:17 pm

In a few weeks, we’ll be back on board with our first concert of 2011: Stockhausen’s MANTRA and Boulez’s MARTEAU (Le marteau sans maitre). Mantra, for 2 pianists with percussion and live electronics, is a 70-minute ring-modulation experience diffused through 4 channels. Marteau, which we performed as part of the Boulez Festival earlier this season to much acclaim, is the seminal piece scored for voice, alto flute, viola, guitar, vibraphone, and xylorimba. Both works will be performed in Jordan Hall at the New England Conservatory on Wednesday, March 2nd, 2011 at 8pm.

Also, video clips of Morton Feldman’s Viola In My Life (I) and Earle Brown’s Novara are  now up on YouTube!  This was from our December concert at New England Conservatory (in case you missed it – or want to hear it again!).

Here’s Feldman’s Viola In My Life (I), with violist Sarah Darling:

Earle Brown’s Novara:

more soon,

Boulez Reviews!

In Uncategorized on November 24, 2010 at 2:21 pm
Callithumpian performs Boulez

Callithumpian performs Boulez at Seully Hall

Congrats to our ‘Thumpers, and many thanks to all who came to experience Boulez first-hand at Boston Conservatory!  From The Faster Times, Matthew Guerrieri writes, “If there’s an ensemble better suited to this sort of thing than the Callithumpian Consort, I don’t know of it—given the kind of Moore’s-Law-esque acceleration in musical training, there’s doubtless far more musicians able to navigate Boulez’s tangles than when it was written, but the Consort (reflecting the predilictions of its director, pianist Stephen Drury) combines that ability with a devil-may-care, caution-to-the-wind flair. So this Le marteau—conducted by Jeffrey Means—was not only technically secure, but confident enough that Boulez’s touches of timbral character and narrative came to the fore…”

And more from Guerrieri: “Soprano Jennifer Ashe sang all three works on the program, a feat for which tour de force seems strangely inadequate. Ashe’s voice, silvery and fine-spun, was lithe and lucid from top to sometimes wickedly deep chest-voice bottom, with enough clarity to delineate the precipitous lines and carry them through often busy instrumental traffic. To simply make it through such a trio of scores on one program is testament enough to skill and technique; to do so with style, the illusion of ease, and an intelligent interpretive point of view is kind of mind-boggling. Those wild, leaping, coursing, uncompromising lines have rarely sounded so good.”  Read the entire review here.

From the Boston Globe, Harlow Robinson writes: “…“Séquence’’ (1955), the lone Barraqué piece performed with gusto on Thursday by the intensely focused members of the Callithumpian Consort and new music diva soprano Jennifer Ashe, who displayed remarkable pitch control amid apparent sonic chaos. A cool Jeffrey Means conducted. Based (sort of) on a dense text by Friedrich Nietzsche and scored for an eccentric ensemble including violin, cello, piano, harp, celesta, glockenspiel, xylophone, vibraphone, and unpitched percussion, “Séquence’’ creates a hypnotic, shimmering, multilayered world whose underlying mathematical complexities bend and boggle the mind.”  Read more of this review here.

Coming up next: we’ll be performing Earle Brown, Michele Zaccagnini, Morton Feldman, and a world premiere by Tamar Diesendruck on December 3rd, 2010 at New England Conservatory.  8:00 pm, free admission. See you then!

Enjoy the holiday!


Twitter! and Saariaho!

In Uncategorized on June 13, 2010 at 9:59 pm

Yep — we have a Twitter account as well. Follow us: @callithumpian.

Meanwhile, percussionists Scott Deal, Mathias Reumert, Joseph Becker, and Nick Tolle have just finished their first rehearsal for Kaija Saariaho‘s Trois Rivieres (Wednesday at 8pm in Jordan Hall). Jeffrey Means will be conducting.

Quite the powerhouse percussion group here: Scott Deal is very much involved in music and technology and is the founder of the Telematic Collective, a networked group of artists and empiricists.  He’s performed all over North America and in Europe and is currently on faculty at Indiana University Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI).  Danish percussionist Mathias Reumert won 1st prize at Gaudeamus in 2007 and has performed at major festivals in the USA, France, Holland, Poland, and throughout Scandinavia.  Joseph Becker, a recent alum of New England Conservatory and Boston University, has performed with Xanthos Ensemble at Roulette in NYC, and has also performed and recorded Carter during his time as a Tanglewood Fellow in 2008 (Carter’s 100th).  And Nick Tolle is no stranger to the new music scene: he directs the Ludovico Ensemble in the sounds of Feldman, Lachenmann, Kurtág, and more.  Tolle also performs with Ensemble XII, previously known as the Lucerne Festival Percussion group, an international gathering of 12 hand-picked percussionists guided by Pierre Boulez and Ensemble Intercontemporain.

Jeffrey Means will get his own spot in due time — he’s accomplished quite a lot (severe understatement) as a percussionist, director, and conductor himself.

More soon!
— your friendly webbottress.

P.S.  Don’t forget!  TOMORROW, Monday June 14th at 8pm in Jordan Hall at NEC: Stockhausen’s MANTRA with pianists Stephen Drury and Yukiko Takagi.  Admission is free.  Bring your toddlers, grandparents, and short-wave receivers.

Percussionist SCOTT DEAL’s appearances include venues, festivals and conferences in North America and Europe. A performer who presents “a riveting performance (Sequenza 21), his recent recording of the music of John Luther Adams has been described as “a soaring, shimmering exploration of texture and tone…an album of resplendent mood and incredible scale” (Musicworks).  Continually inspired by new and  emerging artistic technologies, Deal is the founder of the Telematic Collective, a networked group of artists and empiricists. He hasperformed at Almeida Opera, Supercomputing Global, SIGGRAPH, Arena Stage, Chicago Calling, Ingenuity Festival, Moscow Alternativa, and with groups that include ART GRID, Another Language, Percussion Group Cincinnati, Digital Worlds Institute and the Helsinki ComputerOrchestra. He is a Professor of Music and Director of the Donald Tavel Arts and Technology Research Center at Indiana University PurdueUniversity Indianapolis (IUPUI).  He holds degrees from the Universityof Miami, University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music, and Cameron University.