- CDCM Computer Music Series Volume 38: Music from Bowling Green State University, MidAmerican Center for Contemporary Music
With Centaur’s release of CDCM (Consortium to Distribute Computer Music) Volume 38, featuring music from Bowling Green State University’s MidAmerican Center for Contemporary Music, we celebrate two notable anniversaries: the approaching 25th birthday of the Consortium itself, and the 80th birthday of CDCM’s founder, Larry Austin. Also worthy of reflection is that soon, 45 years will have passed since the first volume of SOURCE: Music of the Avant Garde was published. Even a cursory, retrospective glance over the history of these two chronicles suggests we have much to be thankful for. It’s easy to view CDCM as a translation, if you will, into the 1980s and beyond, of the vision that founded SOURCE in 1966. Both represent the most prominent chronicles of new music of their day, and both were founded by Mr. Austin. SOURCE’s oeuvre is complete, but CDCM’s is not, and neither are the spirit and vision that founded them both.
Because this music comes from a Center dedicated to contemporary music, it seems fitting to begin such a review by first paying tribute to the composer whose music appears to best “rhyme” with the current date on the calendar—Dan Tramte. He is represented on this compact disc by three short pieces, the longest of which is 1′35″. These works grew out of a request from a percussionist to provide fixed-media pieces to “fill the void” (description used in the liner notes) between percussion works during setup from one piece to another. With some, perhaps poetic, interpretation, this appears to reflect a contemporary condition whereby the ostensibly pragmatic, and potentially perfunctory, though creative opportunism becomes singularly and separately artful in its own right. More obviously, the brevity and succinctness of expression mirrors a contemporary trait, or need, to cater to shorter attention spans as more and more is demanded of our attention from media of various types. From this collection, titled Gluons, Boson, Graviton, and Electron appear on this compact disc. These three youthful, sprite, and energetic works spend no more time than needed to say what needs to be said. This latter attribute is a welcome feature in today’s often anachronistically verbose artistic world.
When a composer is given the opportunity to work with or compose for a performer who is internationally recognized for his or her masterful and artful renderings, that composer can rightfully consider herself or himself very fortunate. Here, soprano saxophonist Stephen Duke is this performer, and Elainie Lillios is the fortunate composer. As usual with Mr. Duke’s performances, this recording illustrates his subtle brush strokes and consummate artistry. It is impossible not to be drawn deeply into the piece’s own personal, intimate life. The notes provided on the compact disc for this work’s raison d’être very properly describe the listening experience: “[exploring] the vague continuum between reality and imagination, consciousness and dreaming” (liner notes). Mr. Duke accepted and championed the challenge of performing the once obligatory key-slaps and non-pitched “breathing through the instrument” figures, while mitigating the act of recognition by an experienced listener. Several pieces have been inspired by Wallace Stevens’s Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird, including works by Lukas Foss and Louise Talma. Ms. Lillios’s Veiled Resonances was also inspired by the Stevens work and won first prize in the 2009 Concours Internationale de Bourges.
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Burton Beerman is both composer and performer for Dayscapes, a three-movement work for clarinet and live, interactive electroacoustic sound. Even if no other piece on this compact disc were to be found enjoyable by...