IGOR STRAVINSKY Octet for Wind
By the time Stravinsky’s Octet received its premiere in
1923, the composer was fully committed to the newly adopted neoclassical style
that would dominate his work for the following 30 years. The Octet completely
surprised its first audience, however, which must have come expecting something
akin to the brilliantly colorful, powerfully Russian, and sometimes violent and
primitivist sound of his earlier works—especially the famous ballets written
for Sergei Diaghilev.
CHARLES IVES From the Steeples and the
the Steeples and the Mountains
is an extremely adventurous and
surprising work for its era. Scored for four sets of church bells (or chimes),
trumpet, and trombone, this brief piece is polytonal, with the bells imitating
one another in three separate keys simultaneously.
CHARLES IVES Scherzo: Over the Pavements
brief experimental work, Scherzo: Over the Pavements is a musical
depiction of the sounds of New York City, where Ives lived until his marriage
in 1908. The work captures the confused randomness of the hustle and bustle of
the city through extensive use of polyrhythm and polymeter.
ELLIOTT CARTER The American Sublime
who died in November 2012 at age 103, was always interested in and inspired by
poetry and fiction, and turned often to the work of American modernist poets—including
Ezra Pound, Louis Zukofsky, William Carlos Williams, and Wallace Stevens—as
sources of text for his works. The American Sublime, for baritone and
large ensemble, sets five ruminative and often enigmatic poems by Stevens.
JOHN CAGE Atlas eclipticalis
is Cage’s earliest work for symphony orchestra. Described by the composer as “a
heavenly illustration of nirvana,” which “should be like looking into the sky
on a clear night and seeing the stars,” the music of Atlas is derived
from maps of the night sky, which Cage projected onto blank music paper,
marking notes wherever the stars fell.
CHARLES WUORINEN It Happens Like This
Pulitzer Prize–winning American composer and New York City
native Charles Wuorinen has been a prominent and prolific voice of modern music
since the 1950s. A cantata for four singers and chamber ensemble, It Happens
Like This features settings of surrealist/absurdist, yet profoundly worldly, free-verse
poems by James Tate.