Roger Reynolds


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Electronic/Instrumental Music (CRI, 1982), 5/10
Voicespace 1-4 (Lovely, 1982), 7.5/10
Whispers Out of Time; Transfigured Wind II (New World, 1990), 6.5/10
Personae; The Vanity of Words; Variation (Neuma, 1992), 6.5/10
Distant Images (Lovely, 1987), 5/10
Voicespace 1,3 & 4 (Lovely Music, 1992), 7.5/10
The Ivanov Suite (New World, 1993), 5/10
The Paris Pieces (Neuma, 1995), 5/10
Watershed IV; Eclipse; The Red Act Arias (Mode, 1999), 6.5/10
All Known All White (Pogus, 2002), 6/10
Coconino; Visions; Kokoro; Ariadne's Thread (Montaigne), 5/10
Process and Passion (Pogus, 2004), 6/10
Whispers Out of Time; Symphony Myths; Symphony Vertigo (Mode, 2008), 6.5/10
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Roger Reynolds, nato nel 1934 a Detroit, laureato nel 1961 all'Universita' del Michigan e convertito alla musica elettronica durante l'anno trascorso a Cologne, inizio' a comporre all'insegna del serialismo in voga in quegli anni (Epigram And Evolution per pianoforte, 1959; Sky per soprano, flauto, fagotto e arpa, 1960; Wedge per orchestra da camera, 1961; Acquaitances per flauto, contrabbasso e pianoforte, 1961; Four Etudes per quartetto di flauto, 1961; Mosaic per flauto e pianoforte, 1962), ma presto venne affascinato dall'arte multimediale. Dopo aver fondato lo Once, si trasferi' prima in Giappone, dove trapianto' la musica d'avanguardia americana, e infine a San Diego.

Uno dei padri fondatori della "live electronic music", Reynolds contribui' a coniare forme di intrattenimento misto come i "theatre piece" e gli "intermedia" e a promuoverle attraverso austere composizioni seriali come The Emperor Of Ice Cream (1962) per otto voci, piano, contrabbasso e percussioni, uno dei suoi capolavori, Blind Men (1966) per coro misto e proiettore di slide, I/O (1969) per nove cantanti, nove mimi, due flauti, clarinetto, elettronica e proiettore, Compass (1973) per video, nastro, violoncello e contrabbasso.

A partire da A Portrait Of Doninzetti (1963) per voce, percussioni, strumenti a fiato e nastro, Reynolds aveva iniziato ad impiegare le tecniche elettroniche, ma i capolavori in questo genere vennero soltanto piu' tardi: ...between... per orchestra da camera ed elettronica (1968), Traces per piano, flauto, violoncello e nastri (1969), e soprattutto Ping per flauto, pianoforte, harmonium, piatti, tam tam e svariati modulatori e nastri (1969). Electronic/Instrumental Music (CRI, 1982) contiene Traces e Ping. All Known All White (Pogus, 2002) aggiunge The Serpent-snapping Eye (1978).

Le cinque sinfonie vocali Voicespace (1986) coronano la sua carriera di sperimentatore elettronico e vocale. Nella prima, Still, e nella quarta, The Palace, una voce bassa legge il testo deformandosi progressivamente, mentre un tenore e una soprano emettono lamenti, bisbigli, acuti e suoni gutturali. L'effetto e' agghiacciante, e tutto teatrale. Queste piece per voci multiple reinventano il concetto stesso di Lied. La terza, Eclipse, raffina suoni elettronici in lenta evoluzione e suoni vocali protratti a lungo in un flusso continuo di ronzii e sibili che dilata all'infinito le parole del testo. E' forse il brano piu' etereo e surreale della sua carriera. La seconda voicespace, A Merciful Coincidence, e' invece un divertissment, "cantato" soltanto nel registro gracchiante delle rane. La quinta e` The Vanity of Words.

One of the pioneers of live electronic music, of multimedia installations, and of real-time digital synthesis, Roger Reynolds has composed the opera The Emperor of Ice Cream (1962) for eight singers and three instrumentalists; five tape-based vocal symphonies of Voicespace (1986), including Eclipse, that makes up Voicespace (Lovely, 1982), and The Vanity of Words; and the opera Odyssey (1993) for mezzo-soprano, bass-baritone and 16 players;

Distant Images (Lovely, 1987) contains two chamber works. Less Than Two (1979) places two pianists and two percussionists in a controlled environment but then relies on their interaction: each couple (e.g., the pianists) is given a protagonist role that the other couple (e.g., the percussionists) has to match with appropriate "commentary". The resulting suite is the stream of consciousness of a strange intermediate level of identity: as Reynolds writes, "more than unity but less than duality". The music is not dissonant, and rarely harsh. It flows like background music, except that it is highly volatile and there is no tonal center. It is soothing and relaxing, as if it radiated the effort to resolve any tension between the four instrumental voices. Aether (1983) for violin and piano is a less coherent work that gives up the "unity" and lets loose the "duality" of the two instruments. They seem largely unaware of each other, except for common spikes of activity.

His computer music includes Vertigo (1985), The Ivanov Suite (1991) for the theater, Versions/Stages I-V (1991), Watershed IV (1995).

Reynolds has also composed for the orchestra: Fiery Wind (1977), Transfigured Wind II (1984), The Dream of the Infinite Rooms (1986), Symphony Vertigo (1987), and especially the chamber symphony Whispers Out of Time (1988). Symphony Myths (1990), Symphony The Stages of Life (1992), Dreaming (1992), The Red Act Arias (1997) for orchestra, chorus, narrator and computer, etc.

His chamber music includes: Quick Are the Mouths of Earth (1965); Traces (1968) for piano, flute, cello; Between (1968); The Promises of Darkness (1975); From Behind The Unreasoning Mask (1975) for Trombone and Percussion; The Serpent-snapping Eye (1978) for trumpet, percussion, piano and computer; Less than Two (1978) for two pianos and two percussions; Shadowed Narrative (1982) for clarinet, piano, violin and cello; Aether (1983) for violin and piano; Archipelago (1983) for 32 players; Mistral (1985); A Crimson Path (2002) for cello and piano; Brain Ablaze (2003) for piccolos and computer; etc.

Music for voice and instruments includes: A Portrait of Vanzetti (1963); Masks (1965); I/O: A Ritual for 23 Performers (1970); Compass (1973); Again (1974); Last Things, I Think, To Think About (1994); Justice (1999) for soprano, actress, percussionist and computer processing; etc.

The main compositions for solo piano are Fantasy for Pianist (1964) and Variation (1988).

Reynolds has also composed music specifically for the DVD format, Watershed IV (Mode, 1998).

The double-disc Process and Passion (Pogus, 2004) contains an ambitious project. The 12 movements of Kokoro (1992) for solo violin realize twelve completely different and unrelated forms of music, ranging from expressionist twelve-note discordance a` la Webern to semi-romantic adagio melodies. Each movement represents, de facto, a different quality of the Japanese idea of "kokoro", and is supposed to be performed by the violinist in a completely different mood. The nine-movement Focus A Beam (1989) for solo cello is a more organic 14-minute composition, inspired by a James Merrill poem, each movement being in a different tempo and meter. Far from being friendly and entertaining, it is a cold, subtle and somewhat melancholy exercise in chiaroscuro dynamics.
Finally the ten-movement duo Process and Passion (2002) for violin and cello, inspired by Aeschylus' "Oresteia", is a fusion of the psychology of the two solo pieces. The two instruments now play metaphorical roles that mirror the tension of the Greek tragedy, while trying to maintain an emotional balance. Their interplay creates "threads" of sound (replacing the traditional concept of melody) that grow, evolve, die. The effect is as powerful as that of a romantic concerto.
The second CD contains a binaural encoding of the same compositions (thus it can only be listened to with headphones).

The DVD Sanctuary (Mode, 2011) documents a composition for spatially distributed percussion ensemble and live electronics.

Discography:

MUSIC FROM THE ONCE FESTIVAL 19611966 (1966) New World 80567-2 (5 CDs) contains:
Epigram and Evolution (1960, piano)
Wedge (1961, chamber ensemble)
Mosaic (1962, flute and piano)
A Portrait of Vanzetti (196263, narrator, ensemble, and tape)

VOICESPACE (1980) Lovely Music LCD 1801
The Palace (Voicespace IV) (1980, baritone and tape)
Eclipse (Voicespace III) (1979, tape)
Still (Voicespace I) (1975, tape)

ALL KNOWN ALL WHITE (1984) Pogus P21025-2
The serpent-snapping eye (1978, trumpet, percussion, piano, and tape)
Ping (1968, piano, flute, percussion, and live electronics)
Traces (1969, flute, piano, cello, and live electronics)

DISTANT IMAGES (1987) Lovely Music VR 1803 7-4529-51803-1-9
Less than Two (197679, two pianos, two percussionists, and tape)
Aether (1983, violin and piano)

NEW MUSIC SERIES: VOLUME 2 (1988) Neuma Records 45072 contains:
Autumn Island (1986, for marimba)

ARDITTI (1989) Gramavision R2 79440 contains:
Coconino a shattered landscape (1985, for string quartet)

COMPUTER MUSIC CURRENTS 4 (1989) Wergo WER 2024-50 contains:
The Vanity of Words (1986, for computer processed vocal sounds)

ROGER REYNOLDS (1989) New World 80401-2
Whispers Out of Time (1988, string orchestra)
Transfigured Wind II (1983, flute, orchestra, and tape)

ELECTRO ACOUSTIC MUSIC: CLASSICS (1990) Neuma Records 450-74 contains:
Transfigured Wind IV (1985, flute and tape)

ROGER REYNOLDS (1990) Neuma Records 450-78
Personae (1990, violin, ensemble, and tape)
The Vanity of Words [Voicespace V] (1986, tape)
Variation (1988, piano)

SOUND ENCOUNTERS (1990) GM Recordings GM2039CD contains:
The Dream of Infinite Rooms (1986, cello, orchestra, and tape)

ELECTROACOUSTIC MUSIC (1991) New World 80431-2
The Ivanov Suite (1991, tape)
Versions/Stages (198891, tape)

SONOR ENSEMBLE (1993) Composers Recordings, Inc. / Anthology of Recorded Music, Inc. NWCR652 contains:
Not Only Night (1988, soprano, flute, clarinet, violin, cello, piano)

THE PARIS PIECES (1995) Neuma Records 450-91 (2 CD)
Odyssey (198992, two singers, ensemble, and computer sound)
Summer Island (1984, oboe and computer sound)
Archipelago (198283, ensemble and computer sound)
Autumn Island (1986, marimba)
Fantasy for Pianist (1964, piano)

ROGER REYNOLDS (1996) Montaigne 782083 (2 CD)
Coconino... a shattered landscape (1985, revised 1993, string quartet)
Visions (1991, string quartet)
Kokoro (1992, solo violin)
Ariadne's Thread (1994, string quartet)
Focus a beam, emptied of thinking, outward... (1989, solo cello)

FROM BEHIND THE UNREASONING MASK (1998) New World 80237-2
From Behind the Unreasoning Mask (1975, trombone, percussion, and tape)

WATERSHED (1998) Mode 70 DVD
Watershed IV (1995, percussion and real-time sound spatialization)
Eclipse (1979, computer generated and processed sound)
The Red Act Arias [excerpt] (1997, for 8-channel computer sound)

THREE CIRCUITOUS PATHS (2002) Neuma Records 450-102
Transfigured Wind III (1984, flute, ensemble, and tape)
Ambages (1965, flute)
Mistral (1985, chamber ensemble)

LAST THINGS, I THINK, TO THINK ABOUT (2002) EMF CD 044
Last things, I think, to think about (1994, baritone, piano, and tape)

FLUE (2003) Einstein Records EIN 021
...brain ablaze... she howled aloud (20002003, one, two or three piccolos, computer processed sound, and real time spatialization)

PROCESS AND PASSION (2004) Pogus P21032-2 (2 CD)
Kokoro (1992, violin)
Focus a beam, emptied of thinking, outward... (1989, cello)
Process and Passion (2002, violin, cello, and computer processed sound)

WHISPERS OUT OF TIME [works for orchestra] (2007) Mode 183
Symphony [Myths] (1990, orchestra)
Whispers Out of Time (1988, orchestra)
Symphony [Vertigo] (1987, orchestra, and computer processed sound)

ANTARES PLAYS WORKS BY PETER LIEBERSON AND ROGER REYNOLDS (2009) New Focus Recordings FCR112 contains:
Shadowed Narrative (197881, clarinet, violin, cello, piano)

EPIGRAM AND EVOLUTION: COMPLETE PIANO WORKS (2009) Mode 212/213
Fantasy for Pianist (1964, piano)
imAge/piano (2007, piano)
Epigram and Evolution (1960, piano)
Variation (1988, piano)
imagE/piano (2007, piano)
Traces (1968, flute, piano, live electronics)
Less than Two (1978, for 2 pianos, 2 percussionists and computer processed sound)
The Angel of Death (19982001, piano, chamber orchestra and computer processed sound)

MARK DRESSER: GUTS (2010) Kadima Collective Recordings Triptych Series contains:
imAge/contrabass and imagE/contrabass (20082010)

SANCTUARY (2011) Mode 232/33 DVD
Sanctuary (2003 2007, percussion quartet & live electronics)

VIOLIN WORKS (2022) BMOP/Sound 1086
Personae (1989-1990, solo violin and chamber ensemble with computer processed sound)
Kokoro (1991-1992, solo violin)
Aspiration (2004-2005, solo violin and chamber orchestra)

ASPIRATION (2022) Kairos 0015051KAI
Shifting/Drifting (2015, solo violin, real-time algorithmic transformation)
imagE/violin & imAge/violin (2015, solo violin)
Aspiration (2004-2005, solo violin and chamber orchestra)
Kokoro (1991-1992, solo violin)

THE imagE-imAge SET (2022) - Neuma 450-114
imAge/piano & imagE/piano (2007-2008, solo piano)
imAge/contrabass & imagE/contrabass (2008-2010, solo contrabass)
imAge/guitar & imagE/guitar (2009, solo guitar)
imagE/viola & imAge/viola (2012-2014, solo viola)
imagE/flute & imAge/flute (2009-2014, solo flute)
imagE/cello & imAge/cello (2007, solo cello)

COMPLETE CELLO WORKS (2014) - Mode 277-278
Thoughts, Places, Dreams (2013, solo cello and chamber orchestra)
Colombi Daydream (2010, solo cello)
Focus a beam, emptied of thinking, outward... (1989, solo cello)
imagE/cello & imAge/cello (2007, solo cello)
Process and Passion (2002, violin, cello and computer processed sound)
A Crimson Path (2000-2002, cello and piano)

ROGER REYNOLDS AT 85, VOL 1 (2020) - Mode 326
Flight (2012-2016, string quartet in four movements)
Imagining 12:52
Preparing 3:36
Experiencing 9:01
Perspective 7:33
Not Forgotten (2007-2010, string quartet in six movements)
Giverny 1:22
Iannis 5:37
Toru 3:35
Ryoanji 4:08
Elliott 7:31
Now 4:33

ROGER REYNOLDS AT 85, VOL 2 (2021) - Mode 329
Piano Etudes: Books I & II (2010-17, solo piano)

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