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Quilt Music

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Audio CD, December 28, 2004
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Editorial Reviews

Beth Anderson is a composer of new romantic music, text-sound works, and musical theater. Born in Kentucky, she studied primarily in California with John Cage, Terry Riley, Robert Ashley, and Larry Austin at Mills College and the University of California at Davis. She lives in Brooklyn and produces Women's Work, a concert series that enjoyed its premiere season in February 2004. Kyle Gann writes: There's an aspect of late 20th-, early 21st-century music that I half-kiddingly refer to as 'the simulation of normalcy.' Let me explain. The guiding principle of modernist music had been Ezra Pound's 'make it new.' Mid-century composers tried to make music that sounded crazy, strange, like nothing you'd ever heard before. The one-upmanship involved in that quest eventually got out of hand - or, at least, it left audiences behind, who gave up looking for recognizable features or points of entry into increasingly abstract and complex sound-structures. And so the generation that came of age in the 1970s inherited a logical double-bind worthy of a Zen koan. On one hand they had the same need to express originality and personality as their forebears. On the other, they needed to write music attractive enough, communicative enough, to kickstart a new new-music audience again pretty much from scratch, the traditional classical audience having more or less abandoned interest in anything outside the standard repertoire. What the best of these composers came up with is often a music that wears its originality on the inside: a music whose tonalities and textural consistency are not all that foreign from popular or classical music you're already used to, but whose underlying quirks make it a more challenging experience than you first think. All this is especially true of the aspect of Beth Anderson's music found on this disc. We have an extended piano solo; some songs; some piece for violin and piano. Nothing strange about any of that (though I'll admit, the concluding Cleveland Swale may be the only piece ever written for piano and two double basses). The music is mostly tonal. It is generally pretty, even lyrical. It even uses humorous poems and nursery rhymes. The pieces conform to genre, more or less. Your first impression may be that it's pretty simple stuff, possibly even naïve. But on close listening, such impressions turn out to be misleading…This is not 'normal' music. But on a certain level it sure stimulates normalcy."

Track Listings

Disc: 1

  1. Quilt Music
  2. 2. Cat Songs
  3. 3. Dreaming Fields
  4. 4. Harlem Songs
  5. 5. Belgian Tango
  6. Dr. Blood's Mermaid Lullaby
  7. Tale #1
  8. Tale #2
  9. Cleveland Swale

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