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Hennies, Sarah: Spectral Malsconcities (New World Records)

Two works of tension, timing and dramatic presentation, one performed by the Bearthoven trio of piano, bass and percussion, repeating polyrhythmic contrapuntal figures; and one performed by the Bent Duo of David Friend and Bill Solomon using vibraphones and piano, drawing on harmonic dissonance to create sonic interference that draws attention to Hennie's composition.

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product information:

UPC: 093228082422

Label: New World Records
Catalog ID: NW 80824CD
Squidco Product Code: 29778

Format: CD
Condition: New
Released: 2020
Country: USA
Packaging: Jewel Case


Sarah Hennies-composer


Karl Larson-piano

Pat Swoboda-bass

Matt Evans-percussion

Bent Duo-duo

David Friend-piano

Bill Solomon-percussion

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Artist Biographies:

"Sarah Hennies (b. 1979, Louisville, KY) is a composer and percussionist based in Ithaca, NY. Her work utilizes an often grueling, endurance-based performance practice in a subversive examination of psychoacoustics, queer identity, and performance art. She has presented her work in a variety of contexts including Café Oto (London), cave12 (Geneva), Ende Tymes (NYC), Festival Cable (Nantes), the Johns Hopkins Digital Media Center, O' Art Space (Milan), and Second Edition (Stockholm) and has received commissions for new work from Cristian Alvear, Bearthoven, Bent Frequency, R. Andrew Lee, LIMINAR, Qubit Music, and the Thin Edge New Music Collective. Her work has been supported by the Foundation for Contemporary Arts, New Music USA, New York State Council on the Arts, and in 2016 was awarded a fellowship in music/sound from the New York Foundation for the Arts.

Hennies is currently a member of improvised music group Meridian with Greg Stuart and Tim Feeney, a duo with sound/performance artist Jason Zeh, and the Queer Percussion Research Group with Jerry Pergolesi, Bill Solomon, and Jennifer Torrence. In late 2017 she premiered the groundbreaking work, Contralto at Issue Project Room (NYC), a film featuring a cast of transgender women with a live score for string quartet and three percussionists.

In 2013, Hennies founded the record label Weighter Recordings, releasing works by artists working at the fringes of contemporary music including Prune Bécheau, Thomas Bonvalet, Morgan Evans-Weiler, Tim Feeney, Jean-Luc Guionnet, Enrico Malatesta, and Matt Sargent."

-Sarah Hennies Website (

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"Brooklyn-based pianist Karl Larson is a specialist in the music of our time. Consistently presenting adventurous programs. Karl has premiered many solo piano and chamber pieces, including works by David Rakowski, Missy Mazzoli, Chris Cerrone, Sarah Hennies, and David Lang. Recent performances and projects include Morton Feldman's Triadic Memories, the complete Charles Ives Sonatas for Violin and Piano, the complete solo piano music of Scott Wollschleger, and the release of Restless, an album of new music by Ken Thomson praised as 'marvelous' and 'powerful' by Pitchfork.

A sought after collaborator, Larson has worked with many notable musicians and ensembles including ICE, the Bang on a Can All-Stars, Ensemble Signal, the American Composers Orchestra, Ashley Bathgate, Vicky Chow, and Erik Carlson. Recent performances of note include appearances at Carnegie Hall's Zankel Hall, EMPAC, the Guggenheim Museum, MoMA, and the Teatro General San Martín in Buenos Aires, Argentina. He has been featured on many notable series and festivals such as the Bang on a Can Marathon, the MATA Festival, WQXR's New Sounds, the Contagious Sounds Series, the Frequency Series, Make Music New York, the Outpost Concert Series, the Vanguard Series, the Red Note New Music Festival, the Ball State New Music Festival, the Music in the Shape of a Pear Festival, and the Bowling Green State University New Music Festival.

Larson is also a founding member of Bearthoven, a piano, bass, and percussion trio dedicated to the frequent promotion and performance of brand new works. Since the group's formation in 2013, Bearthoven has commissioned over thirty new works from a diverse array of composers including Michael Gordon, Sarah Hennies, and Katherine Balch. Their second album, American Dream, was released on Cantaloupe Music in February, 2019.

Karl received a Doctor of Musical Arts in Contemporary Music and a Master of Music in Piano Performance from Bowling Green State University, where he studied with Dr. Laura Melton. Larson completed his undergraduate degree at Luther College in Decorah Iowa as a pupil of Dr. John Strauss. His recordings can be heard on Cantaloupe Music, New Amsterdam Records, New Focus Recordings, and GALTTA Media."

-Karl Larson Website (

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"Pat Swoboda is a NYC-based bass player dedicated to performing the works of living composers, and has worked closely with Michael Gordon, Du Yun, David Lang, and Scott Wollschleger. Recent highlights include performing and recording David Lang's powerful and introspective opera The Loser with Bang on a Can and LA Opera, premiering and touring Michael Gordon's Mixed Tulips with Bearthoven, and appearing on NPR Music's Tiny Desk concert series with LADAMA. Pat is a member of contemporary chamber orchestras Contemporaneous and Hotel Elefant. Also an accomplished orchestral musician, Pat has performed with the American Symphony, American Composers Orchestra, Albany Symphony, Riverside Symphony, and New York Pops Orchestra. On Broadway, Pat has performed in the pits for Les Miserable, Paramour, The Nance, and A Christmas Story."

-Pat Swoboda Website (

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"Matt Evans is a Brooklyn based artist, composer and percussionist creating cross-disciplinary productions and sculptural sound installations through an eco-fictional lens. Since moving to Brooklyn in 2012, Evans has maintained numerous musical projects: producing solo performances, writing commissioned compositions, working with choreographers, playing in bands, and performing with new music ensembles. As a solo artist, Evans produces drum performances and sound installations that capture the inexpressible absurdity of supermassive phenomenon (e.g. "global warming" or "the internet") with a focus toward the fearlessness of the human individual in the face of such circumstances. His debut solo record "New Topographics" explores our cultural epoch's existence between digital, physical and natural realms via hypnotic compositions for percussion and electronics that "thrust the listener into hyperreal and phantasmal realms" (Wire Magazine).

Collaboration and community continue to be cornerstones of Evans' broader artistic practice, having performed, recorded and co-lead projects with Tigue, Bearthoven, Ensemble Signal, Contemporaneous, Thee Obsidian Gong, Open House, Rokenri, and Private Elevators. Notable projects include residencies at Pioneer Works, Exploring the Metropolis, and The Shell House; talks at Wesleyan University and Dartmouth College; and performances at The Kitchen, Le Guess Who? Festival, EMPAC, Roulette, Brooklyn Academy of Music, The deCordova Sculpture Park and Museum, Noguchi Museum, Yale School of Music and others. Evans has released recordings with Whatever's Clever Records, New Amsterdam Records, NNA Tapes, Thrill Jockey, Cantaloupe Music and Perfect Wave. Originally from Columbus, Ohio, Evans studied percussion at the Eastman School of Music and the Ohio State University before planting himself in the New York community."

-Matt Evans Website (

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"David Friend, piano.

As a champion of new and experimental music, David Friend is taking piano performance in new directions. As chamber musician and soloist, he is dedicated to projects that push boundaries and explore new ideas about what contemporary pianism can be. A fearless performer, he has been hailed by critics for his adventurous programming and his captivating performances: "astonishingly compelling" (Washington Post), "spooky precision" (The Times of London), "[one] of the finest, busiest pianists active in New York's contemporary-classical scene" (The New York Times).

He has performed at major venues around the world including Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, Royal Festival Hall (London), the Chan Centre (Vancouver), and the National Centre for the Performing Arts (Beijing), and in major festivals including the Lincoln Center Festival, Aspen Music Festival, Gilmore International Keyboard Festival, Beijing Modern Music Festival, Ecstatic Music Festival, and the Bang on a Can Marathon.

David Friend has performed with respected new music groups including the Bang on a Can All-Stars, Ensemble Signal, Hotel Elefant, and the Aspen Contemporary Ensemble, and he is a founding member of both TRANSIT New Music and Grand Band, NYC's piano sextet. He collaborates extensively with living composers and has worked with some of the most notable composers of our time including Pulitzer prizewinners Steve Reich, Julia Wolfe, David Lang, Steven Stucky, and Charles Wuorinen. He has recorded for the New Amsterdam, Harmonia Mundi, Albany, Cedille, Dacapo, Naxos and Innova labels, and his playing has been heard on radio stations across the country, including on National Public Radio's Performance Today, WQXR's Hammered!, and WNYC's New Sounds.

As a soloist, David Friend is noted for his charismatic performances and his intelligent programming. He is especially interested in reinvigorating the format of solo programming and engaging with audiences. Solo recitals provide the opportunity to present a uniquely intimate window into the mind of the composer and performer. By basing his solo programming on this fundamental concept, David Friend brings a nineteenth-century format into the vital present."

-Bend Duo Website (

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"Bill Solomon, percussion.

Hailed as a "fine soloist" (NY Times) and "a stand out" (The Boston Globe), New York percussionist Dr. Bill Solomon performs with Ensemble Signal, having appeared at Lincoln Center, Tanglewood, Carnegie Hall, LA Philharmonic, Library of Congress, Guggenheim, Miller Theatre, Big Ears, and June in Buffalo. Signal works closely with Steve Reich, having performed dozens of concerts of his music alongside him, and recorded two critically-acclaimed discs of his music on harmonia mundi, including Music for 18 Musicians, which was awarded a Diapason d'Or in 2015. Signal has performed and worked with many other leading composers, including Lachenmann, Knussen, Haas, Chin, Reynolds, Ferneyhough, Wuorinen, Paredes, Abrahamsen, and Gordon.

Mr. Solomon has performed the solo vibraphone part for Boulez's Répons in collaboration with the Lucerne Festival and IRCAM with Mr. Boulez as conductor. Solo appearances have included the NYC premiere of Unsuk Chin's Double Concerto at Miller Theatre; new German works at Harvard University by Johannes Kriedler and Hannes Seidl; MC Maguire's Narcissus auf Naxos at Victoriaville Festival ("brilliant percussion work", The Wire), as a featured soloist at SEAMUS National Convention, and at Princeton Sound Kitchen playing music by Donnacha Dennehy. Additional appearances have included Liz Gerring Dance, performing an hour-long work for percussion and electronics by Michael Schumacher; music by Crumb at BAM Next Wave Festival with Dawn Upshaw; and Ryan Trecartin's Jazz Fest at Park Avenue Armory. He performs solo recitals throughout the US and abroad, often premiering new works, and gives masterclasses at universities.

He is a member of Bent Duo with pianist David Friend, having toured throughout the US performing and commissioning experimental works, with forthcoming releases by Sarah Hennies and Casey Anderson. Mr. Solomon frequently performs with Talujon Percussion, Hartford Symphony, and has appeared with Talea Ensemble, Alarm Will Sound, A Far Cry, Sound Icon, and Callithumpian Consort.

He is a founder of the Queer Percussion Research Group, an international research and performance collective, and has given papers at conferences and symposia on queer musicology and percussion in the US, Norway, and Australia. He studied traditional Korean music at the National Gugak Center in Seoul, South Korea. His recent recording of Matt Sargent's solo percussion work Ghost Music was released on Weighter Recordings ("a bounded and essential space," Wire), and other recordings can be found on Mode, EUROArts, Cantaloupe, Naxos, Albany, New World, and on the soundtrack for Project Rebirth by Philip Glass. He received his Doctorate and Masters degrees from the Hartt School, and is currently on the faculty of The Dalton School in New York City."

-Bent Duo Website (

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track listing:

1. Spectral Malsconcities 31:37

2. Unsettle 33:34
sample the album:

descriptions, reviews, &c.

"In modern experimental music, and especially among a number of musician-composers emerging in America during the Sixties, a fixation on process and awareness became a structural hallmark, exploring the gradual change of sonic materials, built environments, and the human body. Though much maligned as a term by its practitioners, figures like Steve Reich, La Monte Young, Philip Glass, and Terry Riley were among these "minimal" composers; askew of them were electroacoustic explorers like Alvin Lucier, Robert Ashley, and David Behrman. In recent years, composer Sarah Hennies (b. 1979) is forging new paths of reduction and expansion.

"Spectral Malsconcities" (2018) consists of six linked and varied sections; it is constructed in a way that ensures the musicians are never completely in sync, and in fact they generate sounds that continually destabilize the standard ensemble goal of togetherness. As Hennies put it recently, "this piece is an example of performers elevating something beyond what I thought it could be. I wrote a piece that I thought would intentionally create mistakes. You ask somebody to repeat a very different polyrhythmic contrapuntal page of music 25 times, and it is going to fall apart at some point and then come back together. However, the musicians are so good that they played it exactly as it was written, which is better than what I thought it would have been if they were messing up..."

Taking its cue from a two or three player-one vibraphone piece called "Settle", which was composed by Hennies in 2012, "Unsettle" (2017) is a spare and summarily weighty composition that finds space monolithic and driving. The score is economic, taking all of two pages to spin out 33 minutes of music. It begins with una corda fluttering, the passing of time held in single E notes bent at the edges and limned by vibraphone haze, gradually augmented by rumbling clusters and brassy, clanging bells. The inflection and increase in density among otherwise apposite events create an extremely intense landscape of tension without release, though powerful as well-the closing minutes of pedal movement, muted piano strings, and bell clatter (à la Iannis Xenakis' Bohor I) lead into prepared twang and supple metallic accents. Ditto the shock of vibraphone and muted clamor at minute twenty, carrying enough distorted overtones to defuse one's skull.

Sublime and utterly physical, explosive and statuesque, Spectral Malsconcities and Unsettle are complementary works that display another rich stage of Sarah Hennies' practice. Her world of creativity is welcoming, but like all art of significance, you have to do the work in order to share in the experience. At the end, and wherever that end is, the rewards will be great."-New World Records

Related Categories of Interest:

Piano & Keyboards
Percussion & Drums
Trio Recordings
Duo Recordings
New in Compositional Music
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