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Awake


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Awake
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Audio CD, April 26, 2011
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Listen to Samples and Buy MP3s

Songs from this album are available to purchase as MP3s. Click on "Buy MP3" or view the MP3 Album.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         

Samples
Song Title Time Price
listen  1. Change13:28Album Only
listen  2. Velvet Hammer 6:15$0.89  Buy MP3 
listen  3. Magic With Everyday Objects 8:18Album Only
listen  4. Burst 5:32$0.89  Buy MP3 
listen  5. Waiting in the Rain for Snow 8:48Album Only
listen  6. Awake 9:12Album Only

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Product Details

  • Composer: Judd Greenstein, Sean Friar, Missy Mazzoli, Mark Dancigers, David Crowell, et al.
  • Audio CD (April 26, 2011)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: New Amsterdam
  • ASIN: B004P96WGI
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #131,730 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Editorial Reviews

Product Description

NOW Ensemble's sophomore New Amsterdam release is a spirited follow-up to the group's eponymous New Amsterdam debut. Released in 2008 to rave reviews around the country, including five star reviews on AllMusic.com, Time Out New York, and Time Out Chicago, NOW helped establish the group as the premiere indie classical chamber ensemble. Awake looks to expand the group's palette, featuring new work by ensemble members Judd Greenstein, Mark Dancigers, Patrick Burke and
commissioned work by Missy Mazzoli, Sean Friar, and David Crowell.

Review

Formed in 2002 by a group of then students at the Yale School of Music, the NOW Ensemble launched the New York-based New Amsterdam Records label three years ago in fine fashion with their well-received, semi-eponymous debut offering, Now.

Their sophomore offering, Awake, delivers a more-of-the-same compendium of new chamber works that intelligently builds on the scintillating (if not always immediately digestible) blend of what Time Out New York described as the 'formal elegance of chamber music with a pop-honed concision and rhythmic vitality.'

Don t be frightened by that mention of 'pop' music. And banish any suspicion that this might be a project whose ambition lies in the deadening doldrums of 'crossover' that most exposed of all refuges for contemporary classical musicians who lack the confidence to deal with the here and, fittingly enough, for this eight-piece ensemble, the now. Indeed, that two members of the octet are composers Judd Greenstein (who co-founded New Amsterdam Records) and Patrick Burke says much, and reassuringly so, about where the creative centre of gravity for the project lies.

It's Greenstein's Change that opens the program in elegantly ebullient mood, a solo flute's dancing clarion call refrain supported, taken up by, and joyfully elaborated upon by the ensemble with improvisatory vitality and wit.

Burke's atmospheric Awake gives the disc its title and concludes it in no less esoteric fashion. Javanese gamelan is the cuckoo in the nest here, but it sings with a beguiling beauty not usually associated with the avian interloper, albeit as momentum builds, it acquires a frenetically strident signature that is much more characteristic.

Sean Friar's Velvet Hammer makes much play with a notion that, on paper at least, might appall, by imagining the consequences of giving ensemble members access to the effects pedal much loved by electric guitarists. What results is an animated piece punctuated by moments of multi-hued repose.

Taking the concept underlying the album to its most extreme expression, Mizzy Mazzoli's Magic with Everyday Objects is a piece,
in the composer's words, 'on the verge of a nervous breakdown'. Dismantling even as it builds, it's a helter-skelter ride of sliding chords that tumble uncontrollably out of tune, and tangled, turbulent melodies that repeat themselves to the point of hopeless confusion, threaded together by an almost ridiculously sentimental piano line. It's by no means easy listening, but its edge-of-oblivion intensity burns with a dark, scorching flame.

There's something appropriately liquescent about David Crowell'sWaiting in the Rain for Snow. A meditation on the crystallization of rain or ice into snow, it's a hymnal to a hidden process, the sense of transformation etched and sculpted by intricate, repeated figures in guitar and piano overlaid and compounded by shifting, drifting patterns in woodwinds.

Completing the eclectic program is Mark Dancigers' Burst, which makes free use of electric guitar and idioms drawn from 'African popular music circular rhythms and pentatonic melodies' laced through conventional ensemble writing 'influenced by Mozart-esque counterpoint'. There's an obvious challenge in the music's mix of old, new and the exotic, and one that is rewarded by repeated listening as its interweaving of superficially contrary elements coalesce into something fresh and vibrant.

The same could be said of the NOW Ensemble's intelligently questing approach to programming, and to the articulate and committed performances of all involved. --TheClassicalReview.com, Michael Quinn, April 11, 2011

Customer Reviews

It's a great blend of jazz and contemporary classical music.
nat
The group feels comfortable including the gamelan and other exotic instruments to add ambience to the music they make.
Grady Harp
The samples will give you a tantalizing taste of what's in store for the adventurous listener.
William Timothy Lukeman

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

15 of 16 people found the following review helpful By JZigman on May 23, 2011
Format: Audio CD
Anybody with an interest in where "contemporary classical" music is going, or what is new in the "scene," would do well to purchase this album. New Amsterdam Records has consistently released high quality records filled with fresh compositions that transcend genre boundaries, and this most recent release is a prime example of such work. I'm in the classical music department of Houston Public Radio and this album has quickly become one of the department's favorites this summer. It may well become one of yours.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By etale on May 25, 2011
Format: MP3 Music Verified Purchase
If you ever wondered what kind of music Mozart and Beethoven would be writing if they were alive today, this album is for you.
It is without a doubt the blistering edge of modern classical music. While challenging in places, the serious listener will be
greatly rewarded. Yes, there is an electric guitar, and its deployment will both astound you and force you to reinvent your
ideas about this instrument in particular. A phenomenal sophomore offering by the absolutely compelling Now Ensemble.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Dr. Debra Jan Bibel TOP 500 REVIEWER on June 14, 2011
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Ravel introduced the saxophone to classical music with his Rhapsody. Lou Harrison incorporated gamelan in his Indonesian inspired compositions. John Adams included a banjo in his Gnarly Buttons. It is thus no surprise that the electric guitar has also found its way into the classical avant-garde. Bang on a Can, which includes electric guitars and bass, performed Reich's 2 × 5 in a recent recording. The matter is not of instrumentation but of compositional development. As I listen to this album by Now Ensemble, a group of five playing flute, clarinets, bass, piano and electric guitar and two chief composers, I hear classical rock and classical jazz fusion, something similar to the edges which guitarist Pat Metheny explores. The six tracks, three composed by the Ensemble, can be examined individually but the album as a whole needs to be considered also. Judd Greenstein of the ensemble gives us Change, a bright, cheerful layering of staccato riffs and phrases full of movement and projection. Sean Friar's Velvet Hammer is pulsing, nervous, moody, and noisy. Missy Mazzoli's Magic with Everyday Objects has a narrow poetic theme that I liken to a melody bus driving through chaotic terrain, across crumbling bridges, and volcanic flows. The Ensemble's Mark Dancigers continues with Burst, a Torke-like cheery composition with two cycles of introduction and lyrical sections. Waiting in the Rain for Snow by David Crowell is an extensive developed work that is propulsive and lyrical, the steady serial changes of instrumental emphasis and increasing harmonies suggestive of transformation, liquid to ice in this case.Read more ›
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By nat on June 20, 2012
Format: MP3 Music Verified Purchase
I don't know why this album doesn't have more reviews! I discovered and purchased it just over a year ago, and I still listen to it very often; lately I've been listening to it every morning and afternoon in the car. It's a great blend of jazz and contemporary classical music. The album is completely instrumental with no percussion, and it's beautiful from beginning to end. I'm hooked on every track! I'm always going over the melodies and grooves from the album in my head, even when I'm not actually listening to it... I guess it has become my internal soundtrack!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Grady Harp HALL OF FAMETOP 100 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on November 10, 2011
Format: Audio CD
NOW Ensemble is at the top of the heap in New York where there are many contemporary music ensembles with whom to compete. The reason for this is the groups propensity to play music of a classical nature - that is to say chamber music - with a combination of instruments that gives the composers responsible for the works performed by this group a wide range of new possibilities for thought and creativity. The group consists of Alex Sopp (flute), Sara Budde (clarinet), Mark Dancigers (electric guitar), Logan Coale (double bass), and Michael Mizrahi (piano)--but in citing composers Judd Greenstein and Patrick Burke as Ensemble members too.

The six works composed for this ensemble for this CD vary greatly in the type of sound that comes out of the various combinations of instruments. The group feels comfortable including the gamelan and other exotic instruments to add ambience to the music they make. For this listener the most beautiful work on the CD is the final work 'Awake', an absolutely ethereal, otherworldly work. But the overall impression of all these six works composed by and for the group is one of excitement and discovery. They are a very important addition to the world of contemporary classical music. Grady Harp, November 11
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