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Gordon Mumma: Music for Solo Piano 1960-2001

Gordon Mumma , Daan Vandewalle Audio CD
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)

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MP3 Music, 75 Songs, 2008 $17.98  
Audio CD, 2008 $31.58  

Product Details

  • Performer: Daan Vandewalle
  • Composer: Gordon Mumma
  • Audio CD (September 2, 2008)
  • Number of Discs: 2
  • Label: New World Records
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #608,565 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Disc: 1
1. Jardin: poplars
2. Jardin: tricycle and fence
3. Jardin: coulisse pour Michel
4. Jardin: lunar asparagus, d'après Max ernst
5. Jardin: planted song 1
6. Jardin: planted song 2
7. Jardin: planted song 3
8. Jardin: planted song 4
9. Songs without Words: for Christian Wolff
10. Songs without Words: soprapensiero, for Dominic Gill
See all 34 tracks on this disc
Disc: 2
1. 5 Sushiverticals: for Merce Cunningham
2. 5 Sushiverticals: Octet, for David Behrman
3. 5 Sushiverticals: for Lou Harrison
4. 5 Sushiverticals: for William Colvig
5. 5 Sushiverticals: for C. T. Mumma
6. 3 Perspectives: Perspective 1
7. 3 Perspectives: Perspective 2
8. 3 Perspectives: Perspective 3
9. 11 Sushihorizontals: for Jackson Mac Low
10. 11 Sushihorizontals: for Alexis at 22
See all 41 tracks on this disc

Editorial Reviews


Mumma's piano music uses the natural colours of the piano without intervention of electronics, screws or other objects. This is intimate and personal music that reflects the economic style of Satie. But the influences range far wider, from Bach and Haydn to Arnold Schoenberg, Anton Webern, Charles Ives, Ernst Krenek, Carl Ruggles, Ruth Crawford, and particularly Béla Bartók's spare Mikrokosmos...I hope that Gordon Mumma's reputation as a composer of progressive electronic music does not limit the market for this commendable release which is very much more than a spoke in the post-Cage wheel of musical existence. Yes, this is challenging late-twentieth century music, but it speaks in a language that is unusually familiar. --Bob Shingleton - On An Overgrown Path

Those of you who know Gordon Mumma only for his pioneering 1960s work with electronics from the earwax-melting Dresden Interleaf 13 February 1945 and Megaton For Wm. Burroughs to the raw cybersonics of Hornpipe ought to know that, prior to his groundbreaking work with the Sonic Arts Union he did in fact study "traditional" composition and performance in the 1950s with Ross Lee Finney in Ann Arbor and George Exon at Interlochen. A talented pianist, he's well versed not only in the contemporary repertoire performing much of it in a duo with Robert Ashley back in the 60s but also in Bach, Scarlatti, Haydn, Schoenberg, Webern and Bartók. This fine twofer from New World, beautifully produced and complete as ever with informative liner notes, may be entitled Music For Solo Piano 1960 2001, but only two of the works it contains date from the early 60s the Suite for Piano (1960) and Large Size Mograph (1962) even if seeds of the later piano music, notably 1997's Jardin, were planted back in the composer's formative years. The music is intimate, introspective and condensed which could, once more, come as something as a surprise to those who only know of Mumma's work from the period of the ONCE Festival and the Sonic Arts Union and reveals a remarkable ear for pitch and fondness for time-honoured contrapuntal techniques. But this is no exercise in neoclassical nostalgia: Mumma's take on serialism is as fresh in the Eleven Note Pieces & Decimal Passacaglia (1978) as it is in the thorny Suite, and when he chooses an extant work as a model the Minuet from Haydn's Symphony No. 47 in the second piece of 1996's Threesome there's not an inkling of postmodern irony. There's enough set theory in the Sushihorizontals (1986 96) to keep a graduate class busy for several months, and, best of all, you can really hear how it works. Dean Vandewalle's performances are terrific, at one and the same time meticulous in their exploration of dynamics and timbre and touchingly lyrical. Now there are two words I bet you never thought of using to describe the music of Gordon Mumma... get yourself a copy of this posthaste and think again. Dan Warburton

Product Description

Gordon Mumma (b. 1935) is best known for his pioneering role in the development and evolution of electronic and live-electronic music. The piano has played a significant if underestimated role in his career. With a few notable exceptions, this collection by pianist Daan Vandewalle marks the first commercial recordings of Mumma's music for solo piano composed over more than forty years. It provides an important new perspective on his work as a composer. The spare textures, irregular rhythms, and pungent dissonances of Bartok's Mikrokosmos echo in Mumma's piano music. The keyboard music of Bach and Haydn, of Schoenberg, Webern, Ives, Ernst Krenek, Carl Ruggles, and Ruth Crawford also shaped his early piano ideal, as did the experience of superb recitalists in Detroit and Ann Arbor, including Walter Gieseking, Dame Myra Hess, and Glenn Gould. The works of the early 1960s were written for the concert hall, but much of the later piano music is more personal - the solitary dreams of a long musical life. And like dreams it filters memories - of music of the distant and recent past, of artistic friendships and loved ones living or dead - to create a uniquely contemporary approach to the piano. In contrast to Mumma's epic electronic works, his keyboard music is predominantly poetic in its brevity, concentration, and psychological depth. It is music of high specific gravity, each piece a microcosm of finely etched ideas that unfold without literal repetition. For Daan Vandewalle, it is also "music of dialogue" that communicates - both with the listener and within itself - through its deep concern with sound, phrasing, color, dynamic range, and rhetorical nuance. It demands much of the pianist, and does not reveal its secrets on first hearing.

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Format:Audio CD|Verified Purchase
While Gordon Mumma is better known as a pioneer of "live" electronic music (having created some of the classics of the genre, such as "Mesa") it surprised me quite a bit to find that he'd also been composing for traditional acoustic instruments all along, and has been especially prolific in writing mostly short works for the piano. This set is a wonderful 2-CD compilation of Mumma's suites and collections of piano works, with some short stand-alone pieces as well. All wrought with consummate intelligence and exquisite poetry, all firmly rooted in the exciting and absorbing styles of the 20th and 21st Century avant-garde. Everything about this set recommends it; the playing, the recording, the packaging, and liner notes, and above all, the music itself. Lovers of modern piano music will certainly want to add this to their collection. I am certainly glad I did!
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