The Slush Pile, or failing to get things done, part the second

Part the first of these latest Slush Pile entries focused on Japanese releases wallowing in the limbo of my backlog. This entry focuses on classical albums.

Alfred Schnittke, Symphony No. 4/Requiem

I didn’t read about Schnittke’s Symphony No. 4 before I listened to it — and studies show you shouldn’t — but a 43-minute work in one movement pretty much indicates it’s not going to take the typical sonata form. A set of variations, the symphony explores a number of textures, from canon in brass to solo piano. I wondered how Schnittke’s polystylism translated to larger ensembles, and it essentially means a larger canvas with which Schnittke could aurally paint. It still doesn’t make me a fan of modern orchestral works.

Carl Stalling, The Carl Stalling Project

I can only guess that licensing restrictions clipped four tracks from the online release of this first Carl Stalling collection. I think it actually works better. The flow isn’t disrupted in the least, and the density of the music makes the shorter length more digestible. I originally owned this album on cassette, which has been lost to time. I remember feeling fatigued by it. Now I’m curious to hear those missing tracks, but I’m in no rush because further editing seems to have done this album favors.

Grand Valley State University New Music Ensemble, Terry Riley: In C Remixed

A bunch of electronica artists were tasked to remix Steve Reich pieces a number of years back, and none of those remixes were memorable. Terry Riley’s In C seems far more amenable to the remix ethic because it essentially invites remixers to throw the motifs of the piece into an Ableton Live grid matrix and fashion something new out of it. The same can’t be done with Reich.

Of course, the resulting remixes don’t have the harmonic richness of an actual performance, and it’s all too disconcerting to hear these motifs used in real harmonic rhythms. (Chord progression, WTF?) But it attests to the versatility of the piece that these rhythmic snippets could be re-purposed to produce something not related at all to the source material. Really, this album is actually "Variations on Themes from Terry Riley’s In C."

Tan Dun, Ghost Opera (Kronos Quartet)

The first time I listened to this piece, it didn’t leave an impression. So I sold it for cash. Then I had a hankering to recollect the Kronos Quartet discs of which I disposed. (Except anything that appears on the 25 Years boxed set. I don’t have the shelf space for that kind of redundancy.) This piece still doesn’t leave much of an impression.

So Percussion, So Percussion

I downloaded this album after I went to So Percussion’s Austin performance in March, mainly because I opted to get a t-shirt from the merchandise table instead. Not much repertoire exists for percussion ensembles, so it’s no surprise So’s debut album would be post-minimal in nature. Evan Zipporyn’s Melody Competition is based on Indonesia music, but I got more of that impression from David Lang’s the so-called laws of nature, which has nothing to do with Indonesia.

Steve Reich, Early Works

Pretty much a cross-grade from a lost cassette purchase. I usually need to be in a certain mind frame to listen to Come Out and It’s Gonna Rain, and it doesn’t happen often. But I’m glad to have Clapping Music and Piano Phase back in my collection.