Taken from 2 concerts during the 2013 Angelica Festival in Santa Caterina, with the Apartment House Ensemble, percussionist Robyn Schulkowsky, and Wolff himself; compositions include several "Excercises", his "Duo for Violins", and a variation on a Morton Feldman work.
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Recorded at Santuario del Corpus Domini di Santa Caterina, Bologna during AngelicA Festival on May 23rd and 24th, 2013, by Stefano Carboni .
Christian Wolff-piano, melodica
Andrew Sparling-clarinet, voice
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1. Exercise 13 (1974) 5:44
2. Exercise 10 (1973/1974) 8:05
3. Duo 7 (2005) 6:18
4. Keyboard Miscellany: Variations On Morton Feldman's Piano Piece (1998) 3:55
5. Duo For Violins (1950) 4:54
6. Keyboard Miscellany 6 (1997) 1:34
7. Edges (1968) 7:48
8. Keyboard Miscellany 12 (1997) 1:28
9. Winter Exercise (2013) 9:26
10. Berlin Exercises (2000) 12:32
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"Christian Wolff has long occupied the fertile borderland between composition and improvisation, as both are usually understood. More a set of suggestions than a writ of prescriptions, his scores can take the form of graphic symbols floating freely against a white background-as in 1968's Edges-or of pitches notated and other parameters left unspecified, as in the Exercises. He is on record as having said that a score is only a means to an end, the latter consisting of the performance, which to him just is the music. With these performances by percussionist Robyn Schulkowsky, the new music sextet Apartment House and the composer himself, that end is elegantly achieved.
The ten pieces included on this recording were taken from performances at two concerts held at Bologna's Church of Santa Caterina in May of 2013. Among the pieces is one world premiere-the duet Winter Exercise, for percussion and piano-and one first recording.
With the exception of the early "Duo for Violins", all of the compositions represented here incorporate degrees of freedom for the performers to, in essence, co-create the music with the composer. As with much of Wolff's writing, the composition is a kind of text in which the unwritten is just as important as the written; the range of possibilities implicit in what the score doesn't make explicit is realized in the interplay of the musicians not only with whatever marks there are on the page but with each other as well. The openness of the score may be a challenge, but one that solicits creative responses from the performer. Nowhere is this more evident than in the series of "Exercises" Wolff has written. Inspired by the heterophony of early jazz, the "Exercises" are melodies made up of small clusters of notes which can be played by any combination of instruments; in addition the performer can choose the details of how he or she will play, including which notes to play and which not to play.
A 1974 installment of the series is realized here as a duet between Wolff on piano and long-time collaborator Robyn Schulkowsky on tuned percussion; a second, "Exercises 10" of 1973/1974, is played by the superb and superbly adventurous Apartment House, again with Wolff, this time playing melodica. Both Exercises take on at times the sound of a loose canon, a polyphonic semi-improvisation, or a series of approximate unisons sometimes evocative of a live delay effect. In the duo settings the melodic cells are fairly transparent; the seven-voiced Exercises 10 increases the complexity of the interplay and recovers something of the jazz-like, multi-linear textures that inspired the series' creation.
A second piece performed by Apartment House with Wolff is "Edges". Perhaps one of the best-known of the postwar graphic scores, "Edges" consists of a single page sparsely populated by musical signs and invented shapes-a score to be played around as well as through, as Wolff once memorably described it. The realization here is a largely timbral, exploratory mosaic that takes fullest advantage of the range of sounds available to the strings in particular, through various articulations and extended techniques as well as more conventional pizzicato and arco playing. Underneath it all are Wolff's well-selected and generally understated interventions on piano.
Apartment House are also responsible for the first recording of "The Berlin Exercises" (2000). Originally written for a Berlin ensemble mixing professional with amateur musicians of varying abilities, the piece unfolds in a series of short, repeating patterns of notes that sometimes create a pulse effect and other times a kind of abbreviated counterpoint. A passage in the middle is taken up with the percussive sounds of wood on wood-col legno strikes to the bodies of the string instruments?-; the piece eventually moves on to clarinetist Andrew Sparling's vocal delivery of a text by Bertolt Brecht.
A handful of "Keyboard Miscellanies", small and often occasional sketches for keyboard, are included with Wolf on piano. Rounding out the set is "Duo for Violins", a piece dating back to 1950 and written after Wolff had taken some composition lessons from John Cage. Played by Apartment House's Gordon MacKay and Ruth Ehrlich, the entire piece consists of the three notes D-Eb-E, without transpositions. Out of such seemingly unpromisingly minimal material a genuinely beautiful polyphony arises, the two lines crossing, diverging and clashing with a sometimes dramatic and sometimes subtle heightening and slackening of harmonic tension along the way."-Daniel Barbiero, Avant Music News
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• Show Bio for Christian Wolff
"Christian Wolff was born in 1934 in Nice, France, has lived in the U.S. since 1941. Studied piano with Grete Sultan and briefly composition with John Cage. Associated with Cage, Morton Feldman, David Tudor and Earle Brown, then with Frederic Rzewski and Cornelius Cardew. Since 1952 associated with Merce Cunningham and his dance company. Taught Classics at Harvard (1962-70) and Classics, Music and Comparative Literature at Dartmouth College (1971-1999). Published articles on Greek tragedy, in particular, Euripides. Writings on music (to 1998) collected in book Cues (published by MusikTexte) and in Occasional Pieces (Oxford University Press, in preparation). Active as performer, also improviser with, among others, Takehisa Kosugi, Keith Rowe, Steve Lacy, Christian Marclay, Larry Polansky, Kui Dong and AMM. All music published by C.F. Peters, New York. Much of it is recorded (Mode, New World, Neos, Capriccio, Wandelweiser, Wergo, Matchless, Tzadik, HatArt, etc.). Honors include DAAD Berlin fellowship, grants from the Asian Council, Mellon Foundation, Fromm Foundation, Meet the Composer, Foundation for Contemporary Performing Arts (the John Cage award); honorary degrees from California Institute of the Arts and from Huddersfield University (UK), membership in the Akademie der Kuenste, Berlin, and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, lifetime achievement award from the state of Vermont."-Dartmouth College (http://eamusic.dartmouth.edu/~wolff/)
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• Show Bio for Andrew Sparling
"Andrew Sparling has played guest principal clarinet with many UK orchestras, including the BBC Scottish, Philharmonia, Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, London Sinfonietta, Sinfonia ViVA, New Kent Opera and Grange Park Opera.
Andrew also appears regularly with many of the most important Contemporary Music Ensembles in the UK, including the Almeida Opera, Apartment House, Chroma, Double Image, Ensemble Exposè, Gemini, Lontano and the Michael Nyman Band.
As a soloist and chamber musician Andrew performs regularly with the pianist, Thalia Myers and he has also joined the Brindisi Quartet to perform the Mozart Clarinet Quintet, and also the first performance of Gabriel Jackson's Quintet: In Prairial and Thermidor. Andrew has given solo and chamber recitals in the UK, Europe, USA, the Far East and the Middle East.
Andrew has been invited to give recitals at the London Festival of Chamber Music, run by the English String Quartet, every year since 2001
In May 2000, he made his concerto debut at the Royal Festival Hall with the Philharmonia playing the Capriccio Notturno by the French composer, Nicholas Bacri.
Andrew also performs on period instruments, and plays principal clarinet in Charles Hazelwood's orchestra The Mozart Collective, taking part in the BBC 2 drama-documentary series "The Genius of Mozart" broadcast in 2004. Andrew acted the role of clarinettist Anton Stadler and the photo in Andrew's photo gallery (click on the RHS Photo Gallery link) shows him rehearsing Mozart's Clarinet Quintet with the composer. He has since played principal clarinet with the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment (including a run of Gluck's Iphigénie en Tauride at Covent Garden, on baroque clarinets), Classical Opera Company, Armonico Consort and the Tallis Scholars."-Morgensterns (http://www.morgensternsdiaryservice.com/WebProfile/sparling_a_713.shtml)
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• Show Bio for Ruth Ehrlich
"Ruth Ehrlich was for several years first violinist in the Fairfield Quartet. Since then her wide-ranging career has included playing with the English Chamber Orchestra, the contemporary music group Apartment House and the orchestra of the Metropolitan Opera House in New York. She has a music degree from King's College Cambridge. Ruth plays on a Nicolaus Gagliano violin of 1772."-Britten Sinfonia (https://www.brittensinfonia.com/people/ruth-ehrlich/)
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• Show Bio for Anton Lukoszevieze
"Cellist Anton Lukoszevieze (born 1965 in the UK) is one of the most diverse performers of his generation and is notable for his performances of avant-garde, experimental and improvised music. Anton has given many performances at numerous international festivals throughout Europe and the USA (Maerzmusik, Donaueschingen, Wien Modern, GAS, Transart, Ultima, etc.etc.). He has also made frequent programmes and broadcasts for BBC Radio 3, Danish Radio, SR2, Sweden, Deutschland Rundfunk, WDR, Germany and ORT, Austria. Deutschlandfunk, Berlin produced a radio portrait of him in September, 2003. Anton has also performed concerti with the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra at the 2001 Aldeburgh festival and the Netherlands Radio Symphony Orchestra. He has collaborated with many composers and performers including David Behrman, Alvin Lucier, Amnon Wolman, Pierre Strauch, Rytis Mazulis, Karlheinz Essl, Helmut Oehring, Christopher Fox, Philip Corner, Alvin Curran, Phill Niblock and Laurence Crane, He is unique in the UK through his use of the curved bow (BACH-Bogen), which he is using to develop new repertoire for the cello. From 2005-7 he was New Music Fellow at Kings College, Cambridge and Kettles Yard Gallery. Anton is the subject of four films (FoxFire Eins) by the renowned artist-filmmaker Jayne Parker. A new film Trilogy with compositions by Sylvano Bussotti, George Aperghis and Laurence Crane premieres at The London Film Festival, October 2008. In November will premiere a new hour long work by Christopher Fox for cello and the vocal ensemble Exaudi commissioned by the Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival and will also present new solo works for cello and live electronics. Anton is also active as an artist, his work has been shown in Holland (Lux Nijmegen), CAC, Vilnius, Duisburg (EarPort), Austria, (Sammlung Essl), Wien Modern, The Slade School of Art, Kettles Yard Gallery, Cambridge Film Festival and Rational Rec. London. His work has been published in Musiktexte, Cologne, design Magazine and the book SoundVisions (Pfau-Verlag, Saarbrucken, 2005). Anton Lukoszevieze is founder and director of the ensemble Apartment House, a member of the radical noise group Zeitkratzer and recently made his contemporary dance debut with the Vincent Dance Company in Broken Chords, Dusseldorf."-Kalvos Damian (http://www.kalvos.org/lukosze.html)
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• Show Bio for Philip Thomas
"Philip Thomas (b.1972, North Devon) specialises in performing new and experimental music, including both notated and improvised music. He places much emphasis on each concert being a unique event, designing imaginative programmes that provoke and suggest connections.
He is particularly drawn to the experimental music of John Cage, Morton Feldman and Christian Wolff, and composers who broadly work within a post-Cageian aesthetic. In recent years he has been particularly associated with the music of Christian Wolff, giving the world premiere of his Sailing By in 2014 and Small Preludes in 2009, the UK premiere of Long Piano (Peace March 11), having co-edited and contributed to the first major study of Wolff's music, Changing the System: the Music of Christian Wolff, published by Ashgate Publications in 2010, and currently recording all of Wolff's solo piano music for sub rosa. He is an experienced performer of John Cage's music, having performed the Concert for piano and orchestra with both Apartment House and the Merce Cunningham Dance Company as well as most of the solo piano and prepared piano music, including a unique 12-hour performance of Electronic Music for piano
He has commissioned new works from a number of British composers whose ideas, language and aesthetic have been informed in some ways by the aforementioned American composers, such as Stephen Chase, Laurence Crane, Richard Emsley, Christopher Fox, Bryn Harrison, John Lely, Tim Parkinson, Michael Parsons, and James Saunders.
In recent years Philip has pursued a passion for freely improvised music, after significant encounters with the music of AMM and Sheffield-based musicians Martin Archer, Mick Beck and John Jasnoch. He has worked with improvisers in a variety of contexts and recently devised a programme of composed music by musicians more normally known as improvisers as well as others who have been influenced by improvisation in some form. This led to a CD release, Comprovisation, which featured newly commissioned works by Mick Beck, Chris Burn and Simon H Fell. Other CD releases include music by Martin Arnold, Laurence Crane, Christopher Fox, Jürg Frey, Bryn Harrison, Tim Parkinson, Michael Pisaro, James Saunders, Christian Wolff, as well as with improvisers Chris Burn and Simon H Fell.
Philip is a regular pianist with leading experimental music group Apartment House, with whom he has performed in festivals across the UK and Europe. He has also performed with the Quatuor Bozzini, and in duos with Mark Knoop, Ian Pace and John Tilbury (piano duet and two pianos) and James Saunders (electronics).
In 1998 Philip was awarded a PhD from Sheffield University in the performance practice of contemporary piano music. Between 2000 and 2005, he was Head of the Sheffield Music School whilst pursuing an active performing and teaching career. He joined the staff team at the University of Huddersfield in 2005, and became Professor of Performance in 2015. Philip is one of the Directors of CeReNeM, the University's Centre for Research in New Music. He continues to live in Sheffield, where he premieres the majority of his programmes, with his wife Tiffany and children Naomi and Jack."-Philip Thomas Website (http://www.philip-thomas.co.uk/biog.html)
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