"Once again, it appears that a musical bigot has infected the musical reviews process by posting the same one-star review for every work by a particular composer he or she could find. I am curious as to whether Mr. Walrus is not the same Mr. Diderot who pulled the same prank on Schoenberg awhile back. Perhaps not. This one appears to be even less intelligent.As for the music, while it certainly is not heart-on-sleeve, it is dry and witty in an almost neoclassical fashion, as one should typically expect from Babbitt. But there is also a more immediately appealing lyricism not always present in some of his earlier works. This cd is perhaps ideal for those who do not otherwise know Babbitt's music. "Whirled Series," a jazzy duet for saxophone and piano, stands out in particular for its overall sunny charm.This recording comes with an second disc that includes Babbitt reading his essay "On Having Been and Still Being an American Composer." His prose is analogous to his music; it is highly refined, with a wonderfully haughty sense of Latinate rhythms and internal rhymes. (Babbitt is infamous for his bad puns.) Listening to this essay should give listeners a good idea as to what Babbitt is like in person and enrich their appreciation for his music, as it has done for me."
The best Babbitt CD yet!
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Gems! Beautiful performances by some of the finest musicians in the United States. These works are typical Babbitt, witty and elegant. Essential disc."
Beautiful and varied selection, sensual and profound
(5 out of 5 stars)
""Play it again, Sam", Babbitt's solo piece for viola stands out for me. Extraordinarily concise and perfectly balanced, it conveys almost every human emotion, captured in jagged, elegant lines. The other compositions are no less beautiful and profound. Babbitt's music is not at all arid or passionless. Each composition on this CD teems with life and charm."
Rich musical spaces laden with expressive possibilities
marsyas | Chicago | 10/14/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Babbitt's musical world is definitely difficult and, for some, completely inscrutable. As one of his biggest fans, I've learned to live peacefully with the reality that not everyone understands what Babbitt's music is all about. The most remarkable aspect of the music for me are those moments where the melody, which is exploded counterpoint, soars like a hang glider catching updrafts. The updrafts in this music consist of brilliant countrapuntal voice leading. This is a composer who knows about music and uses everything he knows in just the right places. His language is new, daring, and it has been constantly evolving throughout the course of his career."
Envoi for beauty ;combinatorial solo integrative complexity
scarecrow | Chicago, Illinois United States | 09/25/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I've discovered Babbitt's oeuvre rather late,and I've missed quite a bit of wonderful moving impassioned, and above all conceptually stimulating pieces.
'around the horn' for french horn solo?, well there's not much written for this difficult instrument,Scelsi has a horn solo, but Babbitt's here is quite ambitious devouring itself over two movments,tossing itself into all registers. We sense immediately the spatial dimensions at work soft,'lontano' moments the closer ones,the distance the more gruff rough open timbres,the in-yer-face ones are louder.One aesthetic strategy of Babbitt is a keen nuanced appriasal of the creative potentials of register, high,middle low, or greater divisions,as for instance his piano solo literature. There is also marvelous mutings moments,with poetic like decrescendo envelopes. The work has a gentle beauty however fragmentized,it is still there.
I have a problem with all dodecaphonic music for the voice, I don't think much thought equals that pondered over pitch array configurations,rhythmic architecture,timbre. I think the primordial dimensions of the voice are/become(have been) compromised within this language. I've yet to hear any avant-garde voice work that grabs me be it Boulez, Carter, Shapey, oh perhaps Luigi Nono,but he was onto some other vocal dimensions. "none but the lonely flute' is also a wonderful work played with great passion by Rachel Rudich. There must be literally hundreds of unaccompanied pieces for solo flute. So writing one that contributes profoundly to this well-trodden genre is like the eye of the needle. This solo also jumps registers tossing beautiful fragmentized lines into differing timbral fields; Fast, wistful, quicksilver,sinuous. Sorry the microphone-ing of the recording is poor. You hear all Rachel's breathing, and an overwhelming ambience, an opaque perceivability is unwantonly there.
"homily' is less effective, there is an art to writing for the solo drum, Stuart Sanders Smith had commissioned solo snare drum works from countless composers. This one is rather dull. Well Milton can't hit it every time up to the conceptual home plate.In
"play it again ,Sam" for marimba is not real Babbitt. The marimba is simply a powerful wonderful instrument to listen to and contemplate,it is deceiving,duplicitous, you can simply play a C major scale and it would have an intrigue about it..
The various 'soli e duettini', this one for the likely combination of flute and guitar works quite well. The guitar is here a real accompaniment. The flute dominates with the primary linear materials, like a tyranny here. Although Babbitt works his charms with exceptional beauty.
Disc 2 there occurs a lecture for which Babbitt finally straighthens everyone out about his nefarious uncelebrated/celebrated article in High Fidelity Mag. "Who Cares if You Listen". A title was chosen by the editor of the magazine, not Babbitt.Who has here a boring voice for reading his statement. Much better would have been a taped interview.
Well, we are all listening today, and I forgot who the editor was at the time, another mediacre tossed on the scrap heap of history.
The violin solo 'melsimata from' 1982 is also wonderful. Babbitt has revealed,his insterest in violin timbre in the "Sextets" and "The Joy of More Sextets"."