Release date: Fall 2019
Separation Songs is a haunting hour-long continuous work for two string quartets. In it, composer-performer-music technologist Matt Sargent systemically juxtaposes and weaves together an array of 18th-century composer William Billings’s hymn tunes, subtly altering certain aspects of them via real-time-generated variations as the piece unfolds.
The composer writes, “Throughout the piece, hymn tunes come and go, passing from one quartet to the other. As tunes reappear, they filter through a ‘separation process,’ whereby selected notes migrate from one quartet to the other. This process leaves breaks in the music that either remain silent or are filled in by stretching the durations of nearby notes, generating new rhythms and harmonies.”
Sargent’s music has been described by critics as “a powerfully organic experience” (Sequenza21) and “so simple, so natural, and yet sets up a complex set of interactions” (SoundExpanse).
Both quartet parts are performed on this recording by the Eclipse Quartet, a celebrated long-time stalwart of Los Angeles’s new music scene.
John Luther Adams
Release date: Winter 2019
The composer writes: “Over the years my large ensemble works have sometimes included string quartet. However, I didn’t write my first piece for string quartet alone until I was fifty-nine. Now, in my second string quartet (untouched), the fingers of the players still have yet to touch the fingerboard. This music contains no normal stopped tones. All the sounds are produced either as natural harmonics or on open strings.”
untouched, like Adams’s The Wind in High Places (recorded on Cold Blue: The Wind in High Places, CB0041) is an exploration of the Aeolian sound world.
Performed by the incredible, illustrious JACK Quartet.
Adams is a long-time associate of Cold Blue; his music has appeared on six of the label’s previous CDs.
“Adams’s major works have the appearance of being beyond style; they transcend the squabbles of contemporary classical music.” —Alex Ross, The New Yorker
“Adams’s music sounds like it has nothing to accomplish. It simply exists, hanging in mid-air, waiting to be listened to.” —All-Music Guide
“Adams’s music is as hypnotic as it is different.” —MusicWeb Int’l
“Adams’s powerful music finds inspiration, depth of field, and sonic substance in the shapes and textures of the natural world and, most of all, in the composer’s own deep and passionate commitment to the act of listening itself.” —Dusted magazine
“One of the most original musical thinkers of the new century.” — Alex Ross, The New Yorker
The Basketweave Elegies
Release date: Winter 2019
The Basketweave Elegies is an elegant, well-wrought vibraphone solo in nine sections. Commissioned and recorded by percussionist Joseph Van Hassel.
Garland writes, “I want to write music that is well-made, sturdy, useful, and beautiful—like a basket; its beauty being the sum result of those first three qualities. . . . I worked on this piece with the same determined focus as if I were weaving a basket. . . . I think one can hear a definite woven quality in the melodic and contrapuntal relationships. . . . Formally, I got an idea from the medieval poetic-musical form the rondeau. . . . There are four ‘core’ movements . . . which are preceded and followed by ‘refrains.’ Of course this being the 21st century and not the 12th, I do not follow this rondeau form in any literal fashion.”
Composer Peter Garland is a long-time associate of Cold Blue; his music has appeared on seven of the label’s previous CDs.
Release date: 2019
Blue photographs collects a few dozen of the many aphoristic piano pieces Fox has written during the past 30 years. Performed by the composer.
“One of the striking qualities of Jim Fox’s compositions is that you can still hear them inside you long after the music is over.” —Wadada Leo Smith
“This is music that sounds like it was made in that California of cool northern beaches or the Mojave Desert as seen in the stark intimacy of Joshua Tree or even the remembered despair of the landscape around Donner Pass. This is a music of honesty, seductive and delicate yet strong and dark.” —Daniel Lentz