A gorgeous recording of works for trombone and piano, transformed by Lucier's electronics and oscillators. Wind Shadows (1994), Music for Piano with One or More Snare Drums (1990), and Panorama (1993)--were written for the Swiss musicians Roland Dahinden and Hildegard Kleeb, who play them on this CD. Also included: Music for Piano with Amplified Sonorous Vessels (1990), which was originally written for Margaret Leng Tan.
"Wind Shadows" (1994)
Two pure wave oscillators are tuned a tenth of a cycle apart. As each tone sounds from a separate loudspeaker, a beating pattern is heard to spin across the room once every ten seconds. As it does so, the trombonist plays long tones in near unison with the spinning waves, causing secondary beats to sound. The player is asked to sweep slowly within an extremely narrow range, from three cycles per second above the null point between the spinning waves to three cycles below it."Wind Shadows" was written expressly for Roland Dahinden who is one of the few players capable of producing the close tunings demanded in the score. The work was first performed on October 22, 1994, on the “Alvin Lucier: Collaborations” festival at Wesleyan University, Middletown, Connecticut.
"Music for Piano with One or More Snare Drums" (1990)
A pianist plays a series of notated pitches in chronological order, repeating them freely in overlapping patterns. As she does so, the tones sympathetically resonate snare drums positioned throughout the space. The drums respond in various ways depending on the pitch of the piano tones, the resonant regions of the drums and their geographical locations in space. This work was written for Hildegard Kleeb and was first performed by her on March 21, 1992, at the Galerie Sous-Sol, Geneva, Switzerland.
"Music for Piano with Amplified Sonorous Vessels" (1990)
Several small vessels such as wine glasses, sea shells, clay pots, and bamboo cups are placed inside or near a grand piano, not touching the strings. Microphones are inserted into the vessels, routed through amplifiers to loudspeakers. As single tones, intervals and chords are played on the piano, resonance tones in the vessels are sounded, picked up and amplified. Differences in the pitch of the fundamental piano tones and those of the harmonically related resonance tones, determined by the physical dimensions of the vessel, create interference patterns which beat at various speeds and in various rhythms. Sonorous Vessels was written for Margaret Leng Tan and was first performed by her at the Centre Cultural Français, Berlin, on February 3, 1991, on the opening concert of the “Inventionen ’91/Musik im Februar” Festival. Ms. Leng Tan gave the American premiere at Merkin Hall, New York, on April 16, 1991.
In the Spring of 1993, Roland Dahinden and Hildegard Kleeb gave me a panoramic photograph of the Swiss and Austrian Alps, as seen from their hometown of Zug, Switzerland. I was planning a skiing trip to Switzerland and had asked them to bring me back some travel brochures. At the same time I was thinking about composing a piece for them. As soon as I saw the photograph I got the idea to transcribe the mountain ranges into musical notation. The trombonist would “draw” the mountains by sliding continuously throughout the piece, breathing when necessary. The pianist would punctuate the mountain peaks with single tones and intervals. Since the transposed altitudes of the mountain peaks never match the fixed pitches of the piano’s tempered tunings, the discrepancies in pitch between the trombone and piano tones are heard as audible beats, bumps of sound which occur as sound waves coincide. In 1993, Sol LeWitt was asked to make a wall drawing for the Kunstmuseum in Zug. Roland Dahinden was commissioned to provide music for the installation. Around this time Sol asked me to trade a work with him for his collection of artists’ works. He gave me a wall drawing for my house; I gave him the original score of my "Navigations for Strings." I invited Roland and Hildegard, who were living in Middletown at the time, to accompany me to Sol’s home in Chester, to make the trade. While we were there, Roland asked Sol what he had in mind for Zug. Sol replied that he had not yet decided. During a lull in the conversation, I mentioned that I was writing a piece for Roland and Hildegard using a panoramic photograph of the Alps, taken from Zug. He immediately asked if he could borrow the photograph, saying he would base his wall drawing on it. The work was first performed on November 6, 1993 at Wesleyan University.—Alvin Lucier