Magazine article Gramophone

Recent Works from Pittsburgh University's Composition Chair

Magazine article Gramophone

Recent Works from Pittsburgh University's Composition Chair

Article excerpt

Rosenblum

Yonah's Dream (a). Circadian Rhythms (b). Two Harmonies (c). Under the Rainbow (d). The Big Rip (A Science Fiction Cantata) (e) (d) Lindsey Goodman fl/afl/picc (c) Wendy Richman va (b) Dave Eggar vc cShirley Yoo pf (b) Rob Frankenberry kybds (b) Chuck Palmer, (c) Timothy Feeney perc (e) Calmus Ensemble; (e) Rascher Saxophone Quartet; (a) Newband/Dean Drummond New World F NW80736-2 (69' * DDD)

Microtonalists who want to assert their presence must either challenge the late Harry Partch on his own turf or change the playing field entirely. Mathew Rosenblum daringly does both, first with Yonah's Dream (2008)-a gamelan-meets-gagaku concoction composed for and performed here by Partch's Newband-then by wielding a broad array of influences (and juxtapositions thereof) that in Partch's day would have barely been imaginable.

Chronologically, Rosenblum's trail is hardly an organic progression. Circadian Rhythms (1989), the earliest piece here, is the most sprawling, using two different tuning systems in a well-structured chain of sequences juxtaposing freely improvisatory passages with steady, rock-inspired rhythms. The most recent, Two Harmonies (2011), is also the most conventional: well-matched miniature elegies sounding at times rather like de-tuned Satie.

Contrasting duration also marks the remaining pieces, both of which use electronics and reveal the composer at his most inventive. In The Big Rip (2009), subtitled 'A Science Fiction Cantata', for saxophone quartet and vocal ensemble with drum machine and prerecorded audio, Rosenblum weaves excerpts from sci-fi writers Don Goldsmith and Stephen Baxter with Old Testament verses and conversations from internet chat rooms into a densely evocative futuristic fabric. …

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