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Gloria Coates: Symphony No. 15; Cantata da Requiem; Transitions
Gloria Coates, Michael Boder, Werner Heider
Gloria Coates: Symphony No. 15; Cantata da Requiem; Transitions
Genres: Pop, Classical
  •  Track Listings (12) - Disc #1


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CD Details

All Artists: Gloria Coates, Michael Boder, Werner Heider, Vienna Radio Symphony Orchestra, Ars Nova Ensemble, Talisker Players, Teri Dunn
Title: Gloria Coates: Symphony No. 15; Cantata da Requiem; Transitions
Members Wishing: 0
Total Copies: 0
Label: Naxos American
Original Release Date: 1/1/2007
Re-Release Date: 12/11/2007
Genres: Pop, Classical
Styles: Vocal Pop, Opera & Classical Vocal, Symphonies
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaCD Credits: 1
UPC: 636943937129

CD Reviews

Music to astonish friends by
Jim Shine | Dublin, Ireland | 12/14/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Here's an experiment we should all try occasionally: get a CD of music by a composer whose work you've never heard before, and listen without reading up on the music beforehand. OK, I cheated a little and read the back of the CD, which promised that Gloria Coates is "startlingly individual" - well, that could be good or bad, couldn't it? Either way, I came to this without preconceived notions of what I was supposed to hear. I was rewarded handsomely. The Symphony no.15 was commissioned for Mozart's anniversary in 2006, but one could not by any stretch call it Mozartean (although it does use his Ave verum corpus in the second movement). Startlingly individual is about right - I haven't heard anything quite like this before. The first movement is full of tension and in its "bigness" reminds me of Bruckner (albeit a Bruckner for the space age). If I had read Kyle Gann's useful booklet note first, I would have been well prepared for Coates' "trademarks" - string glissandos, chorales, and quite a bit of martial percussion; as it was, these all came as fascinating novelties. The other movements are also full of drama and flow. This is very accessible music and could make an ideal starting point for listeners who "don't like all that modern stuff".

The Cantata da Requiem is from 1972 and sets the words of German and English women from World War 2. It's recognisably by the same composer although less "weird"; the settings are very evocative, even pictorial at times, and even what seems like a very ordinary piece of writing ("A note from Elfriede Birndorder, a schoolteacher") is invested with quite a bit of weight. The whole piece is very moving, especially with the surprisingly (but effectively) conventional peroration with piano.

Transitions didn't impress me much the first time I heard it, but subsequently reading about the piece clarified things; it's really just that it's generally not as immediate in impact as the symphony, although they share many traits. But a second listen paid off.

All in all, a great introduction to a fascinating composer.
Brave New Sound World
Dean R. Brierly | Studio City, CA | 01/05/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Gloria Coates is easily one of the most exciting and adventurous composers of the past several decades. A fierce modernist with a musical language all her own, she is as prolific as she is profound, having written no less than 15 symphonies in addition to numerous chamber and vocal works. It's a travesty that she isn't better known, but Naxos is looking to raise her profile with a new disc that presents a nice cross-section of Coates' work from both a chronological and stylistic perspective. Her 15th symphony, written in 2004-5, is the centerpiece of this recording. It's relatively short, clocking in at 22 minutes, but chock full of her signature string glissandos and unique tension between tonal and atonal forms. The opening movement is built upon repetitive, slowly unfolding string patterns occasionally interrupted by dissonant punctuation marks. The eerie sonorities contribute to a hypnotic, unsettling mood that builds to an almost unnerving intensity. Coates maintains the unearthly atmosphere throughout movement two. The constantly ascending strings evoke a feeling of deep space--airless, black and empty, yet full of unseen mystery. The music seems to be reaching for a resolution that is seemingly just out of reach. The final movement opens with a Herrmannesque brass fanfare before transitioning into dense abstraction that at times resembles electronic music. Tonality and atonality battle for supremacy until Coates eventually brings the two into an uneasy alliance at the symphony's conclusion. It's an astonishing piece of music given a brilliant interpretation by the Vienna Radio Symphony Orchestra. Also included is Coates' 1972 "Cantata da Requiem." It's comprised of six short movements based on World War II-era songs and texts that are sung by soprano Teri Dunn with plaintive urgency. The music's emotive power is enhanced by the sparse instrumentation, and Coates' writing is by turns angular, discordant, haunting and profound. "Transitions," from 1984, is a deeply personal musical response to the death of Coates' father. Utilizing strings and woodwinds, Coates creates stark, descending musical patterns that seem to plumb unfathomable depths. The music is dark, at times despairing, and yet ultimately and strangely cathartic."
Gloria Coates on Naxos
Robin Friedman | Washington, D.C. United States | 12/28/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)

"I recently heard Gloria Coates's symphonies 1,7, and 14 on a Naxos CD and couldn't resist hearing more of this unique composer. Naxos has just released a new CD of Coates's works, including her Symphony No. 15 and two earlier works, the Cantata da Requiem and Transitions. I enjoyed this CD even more than the earlier disk in that it includes chamber and vocal music in addition to a symphony. The CD offers the opportunity to hear Coates's music by a variety of performers in different settings.

Coates (b. 1938) received her musical training from Alexander Tcherepnin and Otto Luening. She has lived in Germany since 1969, and her music remains little-known in the United States. Coates's music is statling at an initial hearing. She combines the use of string glissandos, repetitive percussion, and atonal or polytonal harmonies with traditional chorales and forms, including liberal quotations from other composers. Her distinct musical language is combined with a clear musical form, as each movement of her work develops inexorably to a climax through repetition and rhythmic variation of her material. Coates uses a small range of musical gestures and techniques to create a highly original voice. Once the initial shock of hearing Coates's music wears off, it is surprisingly accessible and emotional, even visceral.

Coates's Symphony No. 15, her most recent, is title "Homage to Mozart". It is a short work, as are most of her symphonies, but it is scored for a full orchestra. (Many of her symphonies are scored only for strings and tympani.) The work recieves a world-premiere recording from the Vienna Radio Symphony Orchestra conducted by Michael Boder. This three movement work is taken almost throughout at a slow tempo and is filled with rhythmic punctuations from the tympani and other percussion. The brass and winds frequently play tonal chorales to accompany the strings in their repeated and varied glissandos. Mozart's late "Ave Verum Corpus" is quoted in the middle movement, which opens with a wind chorale that is soon surrounded by glissandos. Mozart's chorale returns at the end of the movement. The second movement is surrounded by a slow opening movement, featuring slowly changing dissonant harmonies underlying the repeated glissandos with outbursts from the tympani and horns. The finale, titled "What are Stars" opens with a chorale in the brass and winds which is juxtaposed with glissando passages in the strings. The symphony is a dense, emotionally intense work.

The Transitions for Chamber Orchestra dates from 1984 and receives its first CD performance her from the Ars Nova Ensemble Nuremberg conducted by Werner Heider. Coates again combines glissandos, esoteric harmonies, ahd insistent rhythms with quotation, in this instance from the early English composer Henry Purcell. This symphony features extensive passages for the piano, in particular, as well as for brass and winds, to accompany the string glissandos and the march-like tympani. This work is surprisingly lyrical.

The earliers work on this CD is the Cantata da Requiem, 'WW II Poems for Piece" dating from 1972 and performed by soprano Teri Dunn and the Talisker Chamber Players (viola, cello, piano, percussion) of Toronto, Canada. These performers specialize in contemporary music, and Ms Dunn has recorded works by the American composer George Crumb on Naxos. Coates set poems and texts in German and English that describe the Allied bombing of Germany during WW II. The German selections are based on a lament by a newly-made widow and by a note from a young woman teacher. The selections in English quote a BBC broadcast of the bombing, a poem by Phyllis McGinley, and, a conclusion by Marianne Moore: "Teach us how to live in peace/then all these dyings,/All these sorrows were/ Not in vain.
Dunn sings in a declamatory, intense style with shrieks of anguish at the horror of the war. The accompaniment relies less on glissandos than do Coates's latter works. It is harsh and percussive and complements the text and the singer. The piano is used prominently and effectively. This is a moving, passionate work.

This Naxos release, as well as the earlier Naxos release of Coates's symphonies will appeal to adventurous listeners who want to explore contemporary music that is distinctly off the beaten track.

Robin Friedman