1. Wendy Carlos AFTERLIFE
Meredith Borden and Piera Paine, sopranos
Adria Quinones and Elizabeth Lee, altos
Orlando Colon and Brendan Glynn, tenors
Gabriel Mendlow, bass
Tom Chiu, violin
Dave Eggar, cello
Louis Winsberg, timpani
Bradford Catler, electric fretless bass
Johnny Reinhard, conductor
2. Albina Stefanou THE DAEMON
3. Joel Mandelbaum ANDANTE CANTABILE
Kenneth Bookstein, Yamaha synthesizer
4. Elodie Lauten XX Elodie Lauten, vocals and keyboards
Andrew Bolotowsky, bass flute
5. Joseph Pehrson BLACKJACK
Chris Washburne, trombone
6. David Glazier TOKEN
Wendy Carlos writes of her composition Afterlife: “In some ways Afterlife is more intellectually frightening than the melodrama of Clockwork Black, as it takes its own visceral plunge into a different netherworld. There appear suggestions of ominous sighs and moans, which while sounding almost human, are synth sounds I invented (including the most distorted sound I’ve ever used!) The synth quality only serves to make them more unnerving to listen to, since something is definitely askew timbrally. The structure of Afterlife is most surprising—it’s a rondo. Somehow that sober form provided the glue for several contrasting sections. Most themes are in 15-note equal temperament, one of the most fascinating and exotic scales around. It’s also a thorny tuning to sing and play in. That made it amusing to score these themes with an a capella chorus, later with strings, and then the two together. I thought this was something that could scarcely be done live, even though it sounds very much like a live ensemble. Later, Johnny Reinhard gave a NYC performance (during an AFMM MicroFest Concert), and had a live chorus and some strings play exactly what I’d wryly written—I’ll never say never again…! The rest of Afterlife uses a curious, ad hoc improvised scale. By ear I found pitches that had maximum alternation of frisson and smoothness. The two tunings alternate through the ABACADACABA form of the piece. And with it the contrasting rhythmic and orchestrational modes shift back and forth from the lowest Ebb to some biting crescendos. The ending seems preordained and abruptly absolute.”
The Daemon by Russian composer Albina Stefanou was composed for a collaborative choreographer to react abstractly to the sounds. It was danced by Christina Coppola-Maneri, who choreographed the AFMM’s “Odysseus” in 1997, on an AFMM concert featuring electronic works at Roulette in NYC. The composer based her work on the poetry of Mikhail Lermontov’s Demon, which exists in an English translation by Sir Maurice Bowra: (Tamara is weeping about the death of her bridegroom as she hears the voice of a Demon in her mind.)
Weep not, my child, you weep in vain! Your tears will not awake again
His life with dew of living sighs.
This is the only released recording of the late composer. She was a wonderful soul and talent and is now sorely missed. The AFMM is proud to have worked together with Albina, following her move to New York, to present her important work.
Joel Mandelbaum’s Andante Cantabile was played at an AFMM concert at the Yamaha Research and Development. The piece is a single independent movement, but is also part of an unfinished 2nd Sonata in 31-tone equal temperament for two violins, written for The Lemkes Duo. It was composed in 1987 and is inscribed in memory of Adriaan Daniel Fokker, the 20th Century 31-tone equal temperament theorist. The keyboard transcription was completed in 1989.
Joel Mandelbaum wrote of his piece: “In 31-tone ET each tone has 30 possible intervals connecting it to the other tones of the system. Since half of these are octave inversions of the other tones of the other half, I prefer to consider 15 to be the actual number of discrete intervals. In a 12-pitch matrix like this one, there are 66 specific connections of pitch to pitch. In this matrix all 15 intervals are represented except one, but that one is the most basic melodic interval in all traditional music, the ordinary whole tone 9/8 (or 10/9) represented completely lacks normal whole tones. Played in 12-tone ET it is a disembodied caricature of itself. It will be noted that keyboard version is transposed approximately a fifth from the original 2-violin version.”
Elodie Lauten’s XX (Double X) differs from her other pieces in terms of the consciousness it projects. The composer writes, “Typically my music communicates an upper chakra transcendental consciousness. Double XX does not take you up, it takes you down to the depths of the unconscious, to the primal, basic impulses of desire and fear. The spooky tone of the bass flute fits the descent. XX is violent and cathartic with the primal scream in the middle of the piece, a kind of exorcism and liberation from the pull of dark forces. The title refers to the two deep pulsions or primal drives, desire and fear—the X points to the forbidden, latent unspoken…or unspeakable. Musically, it is polymicrotonal, with a Pythagorean base and quartertone overlays in the vocal part, which is wordless—but not meaningless, dealing with sensations or impulses that cannot be expressed by language, only by moans or screams, like pain. The synth is active in laying down intricate, dark textures, alternatively floating without definitive pitch—or a pitch combination so complex it becomes non-pitched, or if slightly pitched, hypnotically rhythmic. The synth textures are working off a kind of “decav sound”—a “vague à lâme” that bridges the gap between noise and music.” Ms. Lauten has worked on many projects with Andrew Bolotowsky from 1995 through 1999, and has written two flute solos for him, Evolution Suite and Orange.
Joseph Pehrson’s Blackjack is composed in the “blackjack” set of 21 pitches out of 72-tone equal temperament (devised by Paul Erlich and Dave Keenan). Erlich and Keenan have created this scale in order to give a large number of just intervals, up to the 11 limit (e.g., ratios involving no odd numbers higher than 11). The tuning is chosen precisely for its ability to “facilitate” just intonation. Chris Washburne, a master of 72-tone equal temperament, is the soloist.
David Glazier’s Token is for four groups of sampled instruments, each group being tuned an eighth of a tone apart from one another. The composer hopes to communicate personal experience in this piece that would be otherwise ineffable. This is the composer’s debut performance as part of the AFMM. David Glazier, born in 1982, resides in the New York metropolitan area. The composer works solely in microtonal areas of music, and makes use of computerized performances with sampled acoustic instruments to realize his pieces.
Producer: Johnny Reinhard, Director, American Festival of Microtonal Music
Recording Engineer: Norman Greenspan
CD Cover Artist: Orlanda Brugnola
Type Design: Dolores Cotton and V9 Digital
Mastered by James Rosenthal
Valuable support from the New York State Council on the Arts, Maldeb Foundation, and the LLL Foundation.