Roger Reynolds

(Copyright © 1999 Piero Scaruffi | Legal restrictions - Termini d'uso )
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.

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