- Performer: Real Quiet, Evan Ziporyn, Andrew Russo, Theo Bleckmann
- Orchestra: Boston Modern Orchestra Project
- Conductor: Gil Rose
- Composer: David Lang, Lou Reed
- Audio CD (November 18, 2008)
- Number of Discs: 1
- Label: Naxos American Classics
- ASIN: B001HBX8U0
- Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #154,776 in CDs & Vinyl (See Top 100 in CDs & Vinyl)
David Lang: Pierced
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Lang, D.: Pierced / Heroin / Cheating, Lying, Stealing / How To Pray / Wed
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"One of the things I like about this disc is that all the pieces try to take classical music someplace it doesn't usually go," declares David Lang, the Pulitzer Prize-winning composer who co-founded the experimental classical music festival Bang on a Can.
Although once a scruffy outsider as a co-founder of Bang on a Can, composer David Lang is part of the establishment now. The 52-year-old teaches at Yale University and won a Pulitzer Prize last year for his 'The Little Match Girl Passion' He still has the outsider attitude, though, saying that what he likes about this new collection of his work is that 'all the pieces try to take classical music someplace it doesn't usually go.'
The disc features the first recording of 'Pierced' a 15-minute triple concerto for piano, cello and percussion with agitated strings hovering over a stuttered rhythm -- the performance both bracing and hypnotic. Also here is Lang's classic 'Cheating, Lying, Stealing' (a piece with rhythmic novelties that Steve Reich said made him envious). The lovely piano piece 'Wed' shows Lang's more reflective side. Then there is his lyrical, Philip Glass-like arrangement of Lou Reed's Velvet Underground song 'Heroin', with Theo Bleckmann's detached vocal inhabiting the macabre soul of the song like a wraith. --Newark Star Ledger, Bradley Bambarger, February 23, 2009
by Real Quiet
by Evan Ziporyn
by Real Quiet
by Andrew Russo
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The opener "Pierced" contrasts the avant chamber trio Real Quiet with the Boston Modern Orchestra Project. Each plays almost independantly of each other while adding into a contrapunctual whole. The trio's jaunty and jazzy tangents, almost like an abstracted and distracted Lionel Hampton, are surrounded by sheets of nervous strings more akin to Bernard Herrmann. The effect is both exuberant and trepiditious. Midway, a new movement brings in terse percussion underlining slower sad lyricism and skittish dissonance, a disconcerting beauty.
Lang transmutes the viola-ed danger of the Velvet Underground's "Heroin" into a startling new arrangement, with Theo Bleckmann's confessional choral ebbing and flowing over a modal and serpentine cello. It is like a throughline between Phillip Glass and Radiohead, something that Lou Reed and John Cale would wryly appreciate.
"Cheating, Lying, Stealing" is a self-deprecating jibe about unreliability, riffing off of being a rip-off. Modes repeat but shift erratically in a formal dance that's gone tipsy and turnabout. The three movements sych to the title; the first like bold tiptoeing, the second secretive and dark, the third like partial melodies skipping grooves. But it all gells as exciting and engaging instead of being randomly frustrating.
"How To Pray" pairs elegaic cello flows with strong piano chords to synthesize classical swell with rock urgency. "Wed" evokes a bittersweet personal memory by balancing delicacy with decay, where Lang says "hope and despair were in some strange equilibrium". A good summary of the goods herein. Each piece on the disc is strong and nuanced, an excellent introduction to a musical outlaw.
"Pierced" is very much in the composer's recent style and deviates slightly from his nineties pieces (represented by "Cheating, Lying, Stealing" on this recording) in that harmonic and rhythmic structure are less certain--in fact, that uncertainty seems to me to be what the music is about, while his other more stable pieces have other preoccupations (and are more clearly indebted to minimalism).
Speaking of minimalism (read: Philip Glass), "Heroin," a setting of Lou Reed's words, actually succeeds, I think, where Glass's various Bowie symphonies didn't. "Heroin"'s brevity and beauty prevent a sense of kitsch, in which (alas) Glass's two symphonies often seem steeped; Lang, recognizing the importance of lyrics to rock music (which Glass fails to do), has produced a very moving art song that can stand on its own as rewarding music.