Music From the Once Festival 1961-1966
Works by Roger Reynolds:
Epigram and Evolution (1960, piano)
Wedge (1961, chamber ensemble)
Mosaic (1962, flute and piano)
A Portrait of Vanzetti (1962-63, narrator, ensemble, and tape)
Other works on disc:
String Trio (1960) by George Cacioppo
Sinfonia for 12 Instruments and Magnetic Tape (1958-60) by Gordon Mumma
The Fourth of July (1960) by Robert Ashley Matrix for Clarinet (1962) by Donald Scavarda and many others
Liner notes by Leta E. Miller, Robert Ashley, Gordon Mumma, Roger Reynolds, and Donald Scavarda in English
Primary Artist(s): ONCE Chamber Orchestra; Robert Ashley, piano; The Camerata Quartet; The Hartt Chamber Players; many others
Label: New World 80567-2 (5 CDs)
Dates of recording: 1960-66
Recording: University of Michigan Radio
Engineer: George Cacioppo
Mastering: Dirk Sobotka
Reynolds deals with two layers of sound moving at different speeds and densities, one mostly winds (…), the other, percussion (…), At two points the layers coincide, delineating a three-section form. A dialogue between the two groups opens the work, active lines in one accompanied by transparent halos in the other. Reynolds’s sensitivity to orchestral color is much in evidence ... Out of the two instrumental clusters, soloists at times emerge in concerto style: The middle section ... features virtuosic cadenzas for piano, vibraphone, flute, trumpet, trombone, and percussion.
Reynolds's Epigram and Evolution opens with a three-measure introduction (the "Epigram") played twice, leading into four movements of varied development (the "Evolution"). ... the aural impression is arhythmic, individual pitches intersecting to create aggregates of sound. ...
Mosaic (flute and piano) was played brilliantly by Karen Hill and Bob James. The virtuoso score opens with timbral modulation and then calls for numerous extended techniques: The pianist uses knuckles on the keys and plays glissandi on the strings; a buzzing timbre is created by placing paper inside the instrument. The flutist performs key slaps, harmonics, and whistle tones. The dramatic duet builds to a climatic set of cadenzas, then falls back to a quiet conclusion.
A Portrait of Vanzetti honors Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti, Italian anarchists who had emigrated to the U.S. and were convicted of two murders in Massachusetts in 1921 ... Reynolds developed his text from Vanzetti's poignant letters. The tape part consists of processed live sounds. A high piercing sonority, for instance, was produced by slowly pushing a steel block across the piano strings. As a result, electronic and live sonorities do not stand out as distant entities, but meld in a seamless, complementary blend. Scavarda conducted the moving performance...
– from Leta E. Miller’s liner notes