Daniel Lentz writes about the album, On The Leopard Altar:
“The form and flow of Is It Love? is determined by that of the text/lyric. Unlike much of my music-with-text work, it does not use an additive process. Rather, it uses a subtractive one. The voices begin each line with the nearly simultaneous sounding of all the phonemes of all of the words. As the work progresses, phonemes and notes are taken away until a finished line emerges.
“Lascaux is scored for wineglasses, sixteen of which are rubbed and nine of which are struck. Other than reverb, no effects have been added to the natural sounds of the glasses.
“On the Leopard Altar consists of six songs, each of which is heard alone and in combination with those that preceded it. Each text line makes its own kind of sense, which will change when combined with other lines from which phonemes are borrowed in order to make different words and new lines. For example, “May-an” is formed from the words “my” and “sun” (dropping the “s”). And, to add textual variety, tucked into this wordplay are homonyms, e.g., “reign” and “rain.” Jessica Karraker is the featured singer.
“In Wolf Is Dead… each line of text is joined by a phonetic link to the line following it, creating a word chain (e.g., “you died” overlapping with “you did”). This concept is the basis for the musical structure as well, with each chord overlapping and fusing with the one that preceded it.
“Requiem attempts to capture the experience of hearing a lone singer in a large, empty cathedral. While this occurs, and from an entirely different space, one hears big, resonant “church bells” producing a rich array of overtones that seem to form melodies of their own. Jessica Karraker is the featured singer.”
With this release, On the Leopard Altar makes its first appearance as a CD. In 1984, it was released on vinyl by the short-lived label ICON Records.
Daniel Lentz’s works have been commissioned and performed by noted ensembles and soloists around the world, including the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the Los Angeles Philharmonic New Music Group, Zeitgeist, and the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra. A prolific composer whose music is often characterized by intricate musical processes, a bit of theater, and an interest in the human voice, Lentz has written large- and small-scale works for most common instrumental combinations, many unique ones, and the many ensembles (usually consisting of multiple keyboards, singers, and electronics) with which he has toured his music throughout the U.S., Europe, and Japan since the early 1970s. Lentz has been the recipient of many awards and grants, including five grants from the National Endowment for the Arts. Video presentations of his work have been seen on Alive From Off Center (PBS), the Preview Pavilion at Expo 86 in Vancouver, BC, NHK-TV in Japan, NOS-TV in Holland, BBC-TV in England, West German Television, Czech Television, and many local television stations in the U.S. and abroad. Recordings of his music have been released on the New Albion, Angel/EMI, Cold Blue, Fontec, Aoede, Les Disques du Crepuscule, Gyroscope/Caroline, Icon, Materiali Sonori, and ABC labels.
“On the Leopard Altar, with its multiple vocal, keyboard and wineglass parts, haunting neo-romantic melodies, sparkling timbres, and unusual additive and subtractive structures, is a remarkable collection. Lentz’s music inhabits what he terms a musical “state of becoming,” where both new and reappearing musical and textual fragments are fused through complex layering processes. However, the real basis of his seductive music may be the dreamy impressionism of Debussy and the lyrical voice and keyboard interaction of Schubert’s lieder.” — John Schaefer, host of WNYC’s New Sounds
“On this album, which is nicely performed…is a good mix of short pieces. The two sections that really grabbed me are Is It Love? and Wolf Is Dead. Both set text in interesting ways, with a focus on individual phonemes that are manipulated in a formal process.” —David Toub, Sequenza 21