On the Record rounds up details about new and pending recordings of interest to the new-music community: contemporary classical music and jazz, electronic and electroacoustic music, and idioms for which no clever genre name has been coined, on CD, vinyl LP, cassette, digital-only formats… you name it.
This list of upcoming release dates is culled from press releases, Amazon and other online record stores, social-media posts, and similar resources. Dates cited correspond to U.S. release of physical recordings where applicable, and are subject to change. (Links to Amazon, where used, do not imply endorsement.)
These listings are not comprehensive—nor could they be! To submit a forthcoming recording for consideration, email information to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Album of the week
Jennifer Koh Limitless Compositions by Qasim Naqvi, Lisa Bielawa, Du Yun, Tyshawn Sorey, Nina C. Young, Wang Lu, Vijay Iyer, and Missy Mazzoli Çedille; CD, DL
Let’s get the publication-specific disclaimer out of the way promptly: Limitless, the newest album by Jennifer Koh on the Chicago-based independent label Çedille, is based on two concerts the enterprising violinist presented at National Sawdust in March 2018. Reflecting on those events in the portion of my end-of-year roundup reserved for National Sawdust events and presentations, I wrote this:
What’s most fascinating about the program, both live and now on record, is the point it makes without shouting about the point it’s making. The project description on Koh’s website reads like so:
Limitless celebrates the collaborative relationship between composer and performer, while also exploring the historical role of the composer as performer. This spirit of collaboration contrasts with the conventional notion that composition and performance are discrete and detached parts of the musical process.
What goes unspoken is that Koh, a highly visible artist who travels to play the canonical violin concertos in parallel with her busy life as a new-music advocate, demonstrates her point about collaboration by choosing a coterie of composers who are not white men—but then doesn’t make a big issue of that point. It’s not that she’s unmoved by the implications and impact of what she’s assembled – this is what happens when a woman of color is given a chance to curate, she proudly proclaimed to a National Sawdust audience (I’m paraphrasing for lack of precise recorded evidence) – but rather that she seems intent on offering this worldview as a matter of fact, plain and simple.
Also a matter of fact: the recording – which comprises everything from the recitals except for Zosha Di Castri’s Sprung Testament (for which one hopes there’s another destination in the offing) – presents a fantastic panorama of contemporary compositional approaches. Opening with the contemplative, ragalike The Banquet, where Qasim Naqvi’s modular synthesizer provides luscious tonal ambiguities, the first disc proceeds purposefully through Lisa Bielawa’s emphatically vocalized (and emphatically timely) Sanctuary Songs and Du Yun’s fiercely visceral Give Me Back My Fingerprints. Tyshawn Sorey’s profoundly meditative In Memoriam Muhal Richard Abrams prefaces the tactile mystery of Nina C. Young’s Sun Propellers: an electroacoustic evocation of the physical magic produced by Tuvan throat singers.
Disc two starts with Wang Lu’s Her Latitude, a strikingly original contemplation of cultural identity, dislocation, and difference that sets Koh’s soaring violin among electronic samples of Buddhist chant, Korean pop, warning alarms, and more. Vijay Iyer’s The Diamond, meant to evoke a teaching in which the Buddha described four disparate views of impermanence, serves as well to represent Iyer’s own view of the delicate dance between composition and improvisation—and, incidentally, provides Koh with her most extended opportunities for lyrical virtuosity. The set ends with two pieces Missy Mazzoli originally created for other performers and opportunities – A Thousand Tongues, played first by cellist Jody Redhage, and Vespers for Violin, introduced by Monica Germino and Frank van der Weij – recast here into what feels like a bespoke two-part benediction.
Koh, needless to say, is sensational throughout: responsive to each composer’s demands, and fiercely committed to making each piece sing true in collaboration with its creator. The project is a paradigm shift in thinking about composers who perform, and about representation on the concert platform; the result is a beautiful, compelling collection of intimate conversations and collective statements.
Jennifer Koh performs Vijay Iyer’s concerto Trouble with the Knights at Miller Theatre on Oct. 24 at 8pm; millertheatre.com
New This Week
François J. Bonnet & Stephen O’Malley – Cylene (Editions Mego) Pascal Dusapin – Penthesilea – Natascha Petrinsky, Marisol Montalvo, Georg Nigl, Werner van Mechelen, Orchestre Symphonique et Chœurs de la Monnaie/Franck Ollu (Cypres) Hans Werner Henze – Das Floß der Medusa – Camilla Nylund, Peter Schöne, Peter Stein, Freiburg Cathedral Boys Choir, SWR Vokalensemble Stuttgart, WDR Rundfunkchor Köln, WDR Sinfonieorchester Köln/Peter Eötvös (SWR Classic) Jennifer Koh – Limitless – collaborations with Qasim Naqvi, Lisa Bielawa, Du Yun, Tyshawn Sorey, Nina C. Young, Wang Lu, Vijay Iyer, and Missy Mazzoli (Cedille) Ben Melsky – Ben Melsky/Ensemble Dal Niente – compositions by Tomás Gueglio, Alican Camçı, Frederick Gifford, Wang Lu, Igor Santos, and Eliza Brown (New Focus) Sirius Quartet – Playing on the Edge – compositions by Ian Erickson, Marga Richter, Jennifer Castellano, Brian Field, and Mari Tamaki (Navona) Various artists – Strain Crack & Break: Music From The Nurse With Wound List Volume One (France) (Finders Keepers) Carl Waters – Waker (Soap Library)
(☆ – newly listed this week)
Taylor Ho Bynum 9-tette – The Ambiguity Manifesto (Firehouse 12)
Ethan Iverson Quartet with Tom Harrell – Common Practice (ECM)
Grey Mcmurray– Stay Up (figureight)
Louis Sclavis Quartet – Characters on a Wall (ECM) Philip Thomas – Morton Feldman Piano (Another Timbre)
John Zorn – The Hermetic Organ, Vol. 7: St. John the Divine (Tzadik)
andPlay – playlist – compositions by Ashkhan Behzadi, David Bird, and Clara Iannotta (New Focus) Ashley Bathgate – ASH – compositions by Andrew Norman, Christopher Cerrone, Timo Andres, Jacob Cooper, Ted Hearne, and Robert Honstein (New Amsterdam) David Bowlin – Bird As Prophet – compositions by Mario Davidovsky, Alexandra Karastoyanova-Hermentin, Martin Bresnick, George Walker, and Du Yun (New Focus) Caroline Davis & Rob Clearfield’s Persona – Anthems (Sunnyside) Pauline Kim Harris – Heroine – compositions by Harris and Spencer Topel (Sono Luminus) Sarah Hennies – Reservoir 1: Preservation – Phillip Bush, Meridian (Black Truffle) Guillermo Klein y Los Guachos – Cristal (Sunnyside) Éliane Radigue – Occam Ocean 2 – ONCEIM (Shiiin) San Francisco Girls Chorus, The Knights, Trinity Youth Chorus – My Outstretched Hand – compositions by Lisa Bielawa, Colin Jacobsen, and Aaron Jay Kernis (Supertrain) Tyshawn Sorey and Marilyn Crispell – The Adornment of Time (Pi Recordings)
Binary Canary – iterative systems (Carrier) Kris Davis – Diatom Ribbons (Pyroclastic) Minor Pieces – The Heavy Steps of Dreaming (Fatcat) J. Pavone String Ensemble – Brick and Mortar (Birdwatcher) Voxfire – Fontis (Orenda) Michael Vincent Waller – Moments – performances by R. Andrew Lee and William Winant (Unseen Worlds)
Ernest Hood – Neighborhoods (Freedom to Spend; reissue of 1975 Thistlefield release) Bill MacKay and Katinka Kleijn – STIR (Drag City; related article here)
Cassandra Miller – Bel Canto; Traveller Song; Tracery: Hardanger; Tracery: Lazy, Rocking – Juliet Fraser, Plus-Minus Ensemble (all that dust) Tim Parkinson – piano music 2015-16 – Mark Knoop (all that dust) Georgia Rodgers – A to B; Late lines – Serge Vuille, Séverine Ballon (all that dust) Karlheinz Stockhausen – Kontakte – George Barton, Siwan Rhys (all that dust)
Jan Garbarek/Hilliard Ensemble – Remember me, my dear (ECM)
Jim James, Teddy Abrams, Louisville Orchestra – The Order of Nature (Decca Gold; related article here)
Per Störby Jutbring – The Thief Bunny Society (Hoob)
Matana Roberts – Coin Coin Chapter 4: Memphis (Constellation) Saariselka – The Ground Our Sky (Temporary Residence)
Ka Baird – Respires (RVNGIntl.)
Mary Halvorson & John Dieterich – a tangle of stars (New Amsterdam) Jenny Lin – The Études Project, Volume One: ICEBERG – compositions by Iceberg New Music and others (Sono Luminus)
☆ Dither – Potential Differences – compositions by Eve Beglarian, Gyan Riley, Paula Matthusen, Jascha Narveson, Joshua Lopes, James Moore, Ted Hearne, Taylor Levine, and James Tenney (New Focus)
Mareike Wiening – Metropolis Paradise (Greenleaf Music)
This week in On the Record: Bandcamp has responded to the current COVID-19 pandemic by waiving its fees for 24 hours, directing more money to artists and labels—here are some new and recent releases to buy today.
This week's tally of memorable things National Sawdust Log editor Steve Smith has stuck in his ears includes selections featuring David Grubbs & Taku Unami, Ellen Fullman, Rachel Beetz, and Charles Wuorinen.