martes, 29 de mayo de 2012

Wellcome and first listen

Hello, I wellcome you to this humble blog that, even with spelling miskates, pretends to make music of XX and XXI centuries more accesible.

Along this blog's life I will try to post weekly, or monthly, some music pieces that are not widely known in music repertoire with an explanation about the music (if possible) and some information about the composer.

That being said, I leave you with the first listen:

Gloria Coates - Symphony Nº 1  "Open Strings"

Gloria Coates is an american composer, she was born on 1938 in Wausau, Wisconsin. 

This, being her first symphony, is quite a peculiar piece which was composed between years 1972 and 1973. This symphony was one of the ten finalist pieces of the International Koussevitzsky Award in 1986. Was premiered in the Warsaw Autumn Festival in 1978 by the Polish Chamber Orchester conducted by Jerzy Maksymiuk, and was called by the press as the highest point of originality of the festival. Originally called "Music on Open Strings", since the composer wasn't decided to call her first long pieces "symphonies" untill she had the first few done.

All the instruments are played with scordatura; which means that the strings are tuned in a not typical way. Also, this symphony is divided in four movements: 1 - Theme and Transformation; 2 - Scherzo; 3 - Scordatura; y 4 - Refracted Mirror Canon in 14 Lines.

1 - Theme and Transformation
In the first movement, strings are tuned according to a chinese scale (which was tought to the composer by her teacher, Alexander Tcherepnin) which contains only the following notes: Bb, C, Db, F and G, which allows the orchestra to tune on these sounds and play melodies based on this scale. In this way, with the instruments tuned in this way, we can start to understand the reason of the title of the piece. Nontheless the performers have to use their left hand, since as the symphony goes on there are several moments where they have to play glissandis, wide vibratos, and hits on the fingerboard as well on the instrument bodies.

2 - Scherzo
The second movement continues with the same tunning, starting with a very rythmical motiv but with pizzicato, adding ascending glissandis after.

3 - Scordatura
In this third movement, strings start with the previously mentioned tunning and slowly, towards the end of it, they return to conventional tunning. We can hear as the players, like a melody, change the tunning.

4 - Refracted Mirror Canon in 14 Lines
The last movement starts only with one voice, on which others start to sound, in a canon manner, then some glissandis motives comes, in different tempos, getting louder constantly and softer again, after, finishing the glissandis motive, and then getting loud again on a single chord, as in a cadence until the end of the symphony.

We are thanked with NewMusicXX for giving quite a lot of this information.

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