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The Music of Milton Babbitt: Premiere Works
Milton Babbitt, Tony Arnold, Jeffrey Milarsky
The Music of Milton Babbitt: Premiere Works
Genres: Pop, Classical
 
  •  Track Listings (7) - Disc #1

Milton Babbitt remains a controversial figure on today?s musical scene, with his ideas more frequently discussed than his music is actually listened to. This recording contains the premiere recordings of five Babbitt works...  more »

      
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CD Details

All Artists: Milton Babbitt, Tony Arnold, Jeffrey Milarsky, Charles Neidich, Ayako Oshima, William Anderson, Oren Fader, Cygnus Ensemble, Gregory D'Agostino, Allen Blustine
Title: The Music of Milton Babbitt: Premiere Works
Members Wishing: 1
Total Copies: 0
Label: Bridge Records, Inc.
Original Release Date: 9/30/2003
Release Date: 9/30/2003
Genres: Pop, Classical
Styles: Vocal Pop, Chamber Music, Historical Periods, Classical (c.1770-1830)
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaCD Credits: 1
UPC: 090404913525

Synopsis

Album Description
Milton Babbitt remains a controversial figure on today?s musical scene, with his ideas more frequently discussed than his music is actually listened to. This recording contains the premiere recordings of five Babbitt works that span a quarter of a century. The CD opens with a performance of Babbitt?s exquisite "Quatrains", sung by the brilliant young American soprano, Tony Arnold. Set to a text by a Babbitt favorite?John Hollander?"Quatrains" is a work of great delicacy and subtlety. "Manifold Music" shows Babbitt adapting his language to the organ in a most original manner. Exploiting the instrument?s potential for colorful registration, Babbitt?s demanding score is a spectacular workout for the hands and feet of organ virtuoso, Gregory D?Agostino. "My Ends Are My Beginnings" has, since its composition in 1978, been regarded by many as one of most difficult-to-play works for a solo woodwind instrument. The work?s dedicatee, Allen Blustine (long-time clarinetist! for Speculum Musicae), gives a heroic reading of this 17 minute solo. "Soli e Duettini" is one of three works with this title. This work, for two guitars, is played by dedicatees William Anderson and Oren Fader. (This premiere recording was previously issued on BRIDGE 9042). The final work is Babbitt?s just completed "Swan Song No. 1". It is a remarkable composition for the unusual combination of flute, oboe, mandolin, guitar, violin and cello. CD Annotator Matthias Kriesberg writes, "The experience of hearing Milton Babbitt, who for so long played off the boundaries of musical dimensions against one another, now reign in the extremes so dramatically as to focus the ear on the centered drama of calm voices interacting, is certainly extraordinary. But should we really be surprised? After all, there is a long, rich history of composers who, having definitively proven their ability to wrest music in an entirely new direction, turned their attention inward, ever inward, to contemplate that place, in the words of W.B. Yeats, ?where all the ladders start.?"
 

CD Reviews

Challenging music
Wayne A. | Belfast, Northern Ireland | 11/07/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)

"Briefly, Babbitt is one tough nut but once his music has been cracked it's a wonderful experience. This is an excellent collection of pieces that are more easily related to because of the instruments used--you want to listen and understand. There's no way to describe Babbit's music (most attempts--pro and con--seem to miss the mark), an explorer simply has to take the plunge somewhere. This is a good place to start.

Note to the record label--THIS IS WITHOUT QUESTION THE WORST ALBUM COVER IN THE LONG HISTORY OF RECORDED AND MARKETED ART MUSIC. GENERALLY, YOUR GRAPHICS ARE SIMPLY TERRIBLE ANYWAY BUT THIS PARTICULAR RELEASE TAKES THE GRAND PRIZE. ITS HIDEOUS, GROTESQUE, OFF-PUTTING, AND DAMNED UGLY. IT'S DIFFICULT RECOMMENDING SUCH A VISUALLY VILE THING. PLEASE TRY TO FIND BETTER GRAPHIC ARTISTS, IT WILL HELP YOUR SALES!

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Swan Song No.1 is the overwhelming highlight for me
Peter Heddon | 01/16/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)

"By a hairs breath,this disc has the edge on the recently issued Naxos compilation of Babbitt's music.
The composers word setting is shown to brilliant advantage in Quatrains (1993):a nice balance between exquisite moment to moment detail and sense of whole.Tony Arnold is the expert and characterful soprano.There's real passion here.
Manifold Music (1983)might be the most controversial piece on the disc as the organ isn't the instrument which springs to mind when one thinks of Babbitt's penchant for finely tuned dynamic shadings and deft figuration.However,repeated hearings reveal that unmistakable wit and astute sense of pitch shining through.There's also a sense of the perverse in the textural problems,a real sense of struggle.
My Ends are my Beginnings (1978)is a very subtle work which i find harder to get a hold of...plenty of delicious detail to savour but it's a very abstract journey and one longs for more contrast between the three movements.Certainly,Allen Blustine seems to have the measure of this 16minute piece.
Soli e Duettini (1989)falls into the same category of cool abstraction which doesn't quite take off.
Swan Song no.1 (2003)is the overwhelming winner for me.Nothing in the least bit resigned about this capricious little gem.
There seem to be some teasing references to Stavinsky's Agon at the beginning and some beautifully judged unisons and moments of genuine warmth (eg.01:19)
Excellent programme notes are another added advantage over the obscure/self indulgent prose on the Naxos disc.
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