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James Tenney : Harmonium. Ensemble Scordatura.
Format : 1 CD
Total Time : 01:04:20

Recording : 2008-2017
Location : Amsterdam/Aaigem
Country : Pays-Bas/Belgique
Sound : Studio / Stereo

Label : New World
Catalog No. : NW80803
EAN : 0093228080329
Price Code : DM020A

Publishing Year : 2018
Release Date : 05/09/2018

Genre : Classical
James Tenney (1934-2006)
"Harmonium #1", pour voix, alto et clavier
"For 12 Strings (rising)", pour ensemble
"Two Koans and a Canon", pour alto et effet delay
"Voice(s)", pour ensemble instrumental, voix et system d'effet delay
"Blues for Annie", pour alto

Ensemble Scordatura
Elisabeth Smalt, alto
Bob Gilmore, clavier
Janneke van Prooijen, violon
Suzanne Groot, violon
Carter Williams, violon
Roman Santos, violon
Robert Meulendijk, alto
Ig Henneman, alto
Hans Rijkmans, alto
Michiel Weidner, violoncelle
Anne Magda de Geus, violoncelle
Rozemarie Heggen, contrebasse
Cody Takacs, contrebasse
Sarah Jeffery, flûte à bec
Carlos Galvez-Taroncher, clarinette
James Fulkerson, trombone
Scott McLaughlin, violoncelle
Alfrun Schmid, voix, direction

Asked whether he would describe his music as “Sound for the sake of sound,” James Tenney (1934–2006) replied, “It’s sound for the sake of perceptual insight—some kind of perceptual revelation.” This release aptly demonstrates Tenney’s deep exploratory fascination with the nature and potentialities of aural perception. His attraction to these topics was simultaneously intellectual and sensuous, and its musical products at once invite both sustained reflection and the most immediate of corporeal responses. A number of his works feature pitch collections that progressively approach or diverge from the structure of the harmonic series, or that gradually move between its “harmonically complex” or “dissonant” upper reaches and its “harmonically simple” or “consonant” lower regions. A paradigmatic example is provided by Harmonium #1 (1976). For 12 String (rising) (1971) represents an arrangement for strings of Tenney’s classic electroacoustic composition For Ann (rising) (1969), which predated his interest in harmony. It nonetheless shares with much of his subsequent music a ruthless simplification of form and structure that eschews narrative drama in order to highlight the subjective processes and perceptions of the listener. The first movement of Two Koans and a Canon (1982) is entitled “First Koan (a gentler Beast)” and constitutes a variation upon Tenney’s earlier Beast (1971) for solo double bass. It is a study in acoustical beating, an alluring rhythmic pulsation audible between tones whose pitches are sufficiently close to each other. The “Second Koan” in turn recalls Tenney’s Koan (1971) for solo violin. It exhibits another of his radically reduced formal designs: a steady crossstring tremolo that gradually migrates upwards in register across the strings of the instrument. The brief final “Canon” is the most structurally complex of the movements. Alone of the three it employs a live tape-delay system. From 1975–84, Tenney produced a number of other compositions calling for the use of a tape-delay system in live performance, which he once referred to as “the poor man’s orchestra” for its ability to produce lush textures from few instruments. The most texturally sophisticated of these pieces is Voice(s) (1984), which requires the use of four separate tape machines. The final track, Blues for Annie (1975), offers a glimpse into the breadth of Tenney’s personal musical interests. His appreciation for the blues is expressed forthrightly in a literal transcription and arrangement of Jaybird Coleman’s 1927 recording of “No More Good Water ’Cause the Pond is Dry.”

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