Magazine article Gramophone

San Francisco-Based Composer Joins in Playing His Own Music

Magazine article Gramophone

San Francisco-Based Composer Joins in Playing His Own Music

Article excerpt


'One: Chamber Music of Kurt Rohde'

Violin Concertino (a). One (b). Double Trouble (c). Four Remixes (d)

(a) Axel Strauss vn (c) Kurt Rohde, (c) Ellen Ruth Rose vas (b) Genevieve Feiwen Lee pf/spkr (ad) Left Coast Chamber Ensemble/(a) Matilda Hofman; (c) Empyrean Ensemble/MaryChun Innova (F) INNOVA839 (76' * DDD)

Accompanied by booklet-notes that cover Kurt Rohde's music from every conceivable angle and include especially ponderous aesthetic statements such as 'to create force-fields of memory and feeling ... that tell us what it feels like to be a person today', this CD from Innova introduces this composer (based at the University of California, Davis) with a variety of 15- to 20-minute musical entities that follow no identifiable musical stream but can leave no listener undisturbed.

Instead, each piece, as the notes imply, follows its own uniquely arresting course with determined intensity and a concentrated use of resources. Nothing seems to happen casually, so the influences that permeate Rohde's music--from the Baroque to (in the inconclusive Four Remixes) the Beatles, Elton John and Joni Mitchell--become indivisible parts of a dynamic, energetic, occasionally noisy and sometimes turgid flow. It's what you might expect from a young composer faced with the 21st century's overwhelming backlog of musical influences. The fact that the performers play as if they'd been an intimate part of the compositional process produces gripping results.

The Violin Concertino, with its use of traditional tune types and rhetoric, is the most immediately accessible music on the disc. …

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