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For the Record: November 13, 2020

Keeping tabs on new recordings of interest to the new-music community, on CD, vinyl LP, cassette, and digital-only formats—with an Album of the Week featuring fiery Rzewski from Thomas Kotcheff.
For the Record: November 13, 2020

For the Record is a weekly round-up of new and pending recordings of interest to the new-music community: contemporary classical music and jazz, electronic and electroacoustic music, and idioms for which no clever genre name has been coined, on CD, vinyl LP,  cassette, digital-only formats… you name it.

This list of release dates is culled from press releases, Amazon, Bandcamp, and other  internet stores and sources, social-media posts,  and online resources such as Discogs.   Dates cited typically correspond to initial U.S. release, and are subject to change. (Links to Amazon, used when all else fails, do not imply endorsement.)

After publication, new listings are incorporated into On the Record: The Master List, a continuously compiled and updated resource exclusively accessible to paying Night After Night subscribers, found here.

These listings are not comprehensive—nor could they be! To submit a forthcoming recording for consideration, email information to nightafternight@icloud.com.

Album of the Week

Thomas Kotcheff (Photograph courtesy DotDotDotMusic)

Frederic Rzewski
Songs of Insurrection
Thomas Kotcheff
(Coviello Classics)

The prospect of writing about Thomas Kotcheff gives me pause—not because he’s not excellent, which he is, but rather because we’ve become quite friendly over three years of co-hosting live webcasts for the Ojai Music Festival. But it’s long past time I shook off any trepidation. Kotcheff is an outstanding pianist, both alone and in the duo Hocket – whose pandemic-quarantine commissioning project, #What2020SoundsLike, is among the year’s more remarkable initiatives – and an excellent composer as well.

Quite likely it’s because Kotcheff is precisely that triple threat – a skillful soloist, collaborator, and composer – that matches him so ideally to the music of Frederic Rzewski, an artist who is himself all those things and more besides. Rzewski in some ways is a throwback to an earlier age, when virtuoso performers not only handled works of treacherous difficulty, but also spun flamboyant spontaneous creations out of simple themes and popular melodies.

But Rzewski doesn’t come off like a showboating musical athlete; instead, his profile is that of an intellectual and activist, in part because many of the works he’s created are built from resistance anthems and songs meant to rally popular sentiment. The People United Will Never Be Defeated – based on the Chilean song “¡El pueblo unido jamás será vencido!” – is the most familiar example, and one revisited by numerous artists during this season of mass unrest and protest.

Songs of Insurrection, true to its title, partakes in the spirit of The People United… and its spiritual heirs, like Which Side Are You On? and Winnsboro Cotton Mill Blues. Kotcheff, who lectured on The People United… in earning his doctoral degree, demonstrates a consummate grasp of the composer’s idiom, both in note and in spirit, in his  Songs of Insurrection, a 75-minute work from 2016, in which Rzewski adapted and embellished a set of international protest songs, cultivating a tone of principled outrage.

“My decision to perform and record this 75-minute masterpiece went beyond my penchant for championing Rzewski’s music,” Kotcheff wrote in a statement about the project. “I also wanted to perform a piece that represented what it means to be alive at this moment in history.… the messaging of this piece — a piece about disparate voices coming together and fighting for democracy, a piece about humanity’s collective struggles, a piece that reflects on freedom — rings more true now than ever.”

Coviello Classics, a German audiophile label, provides a superb recording engineered by composer Aaron Holloway Nahum, and detailed, perceptive liner notes by musicologist Kristi Brown-Montesano, journalist Zak Cheney-Rice, and composer Ted Hearne. What results is a thoughtful, comprehensive package that does all of its participants proud.

New This Week

Maya Verlaak (Photograph courtesy Conservatorium van Amsterdam)

Newton Armstrong - The way to go out - Plus Minus Ensemble, Séverine Ballon (Another Timbre)

Martin Arnold - Stain Ballads - Apartment House (Another Timbre)

William Basinski - Lamentations (Temporary Residence Ltd.)

Xavier Beteta - Lasting Shadows  - performances by Sam Dunscombe, Todd Moellenberg, Ensemble Palimpsest,  and performers from University of California San Diego (Sideband)

Antoine Beuger - jankélévitch sextets - Apartment House (Another Timbre)

Taylor Brook - Apperceptions (self-released)

The Nels Cline Singers - Share the Wealth (Blue Note)

Melaine Dalibert - Infinite Ascent (Elsewhere)

Jürg Frey - l’air, l’instant – deux pianos - Dante Boon, Reinier Van Houdt (Elsewhere)

Judith Hamann - days collapse (Another Timbre)

Steven Landis/David Menestres/Jonathan Wall - Polaristic Pictorials (self-released)

Anne LeBaron - Unearthly Delights (Innova)

Scott Lee - Through the Mangrove Tunnels - JACK Quartet, Steven Beck, Russell Lacy (New Focus)

Vladimir Martynov - Utopia - Jun Hong Loh, Neville Creed, London Philharmonic Choir, London Philharmonic Orchestra/Vladimir Jurowski (LPO)

James Moore & Elliot Simpson - guitars, streets, resonances - compositions by Larry Polansky and Teodora Stepančić (Infrequent Seams)

Tristan Perich - Drift Multiply (New Amsterdam/Nonesuch)

Frederic Rzewski - Songs of Insurrection - Thomas Kotcheff (Coviello)

Giacinto Scelsi - Suites Nos. 8 (“Bot-ba”) and 11 - Sabine Liebner (Wergo)

Giacinto Scelsi - Suite No. 9 (“Ttai”); Quattro illustrazioni; Un Adieu - Shira Legmann (Elsewhere)

D.J. Sparr - Hard Metal Cantüs - performances by the Lee Trio, Third Coast Percussion, Del Sol String Quartet, Lubbock Chamber Orchestra, and others (Innova)

Tani Tabbal Trio - Now Then (Tao Forms)

Cecil Taylor/Tony Oxley - …being astral and all registers – power of two… (Discus Music; first release of 2002 recording from Oxley’s archive)

Maya Verlaak - All English Music Is Greensleeves - Apartment House (Another Timbre)

Errollyn Wallen - Peace on Earth - Dónal McCann, Choir of King’s College, Cambridge/Stephen Cleobury (King’s College Recordings)

Mars Williams - Mars Williams Presents An Ayler Xmas, Vol. 4: Chicago vs. NYC (Astral Spirits)

Just Announced

Adam Rudolph (Photograph courtesy of the artist)

November 24

Amirali - Trial & Error (Dark Matters)

Charles Shere - Trio for Violin, Piano and Percussion - Abel-Steinberg-Winant Trio (Other Minds)

December 4

Kenneth Gaburo - Kenneth Gaburo Conducts New Music Choral Ensemble I (live in concert, 1967) - compositions by Gaburo, Ben Johnston, Pauline Oliveros, Charles Hamm, Robert Schallenberg, Leslie Bassett, Luigi Nono, Anton Webern, and Olivier Messiaen (Neuma)

Robert Moran - Points of Departure - performances by Daniel Bubeck, Zachary James, Maria Rusu, and the University of Delaware Symphony Orchestra/James Allen Anderson (Neuma)

Adam Rudolph - Focus and Field (Meta)

Elif Yalvaç - Mountains Become Stepping Stones (NNA Tapes)

December 11

Fred Frith/Sudhu Tewari/Cenk Ergün - Lock Me Up, Lock Me Down (Carrier)

January 15, 2021

Tim Story - Threads (Dais; first vinyl release of 1982 debut recording)

January 22, 2021

Yvette Jackson - Freedom (Fridman Gallery)

February 1, 2021

Pauline Anna Strom - Angel Tears in Sunlight (RVNGIntl.)