Various Artists | Bruce Hobson: Two Isorhythms - Octet - Three Portraits - Concerto for Three Groups

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Bruce Hobson: Two Isorhythms - Octet - Three Portraits - Concerto for Three Groups

by Various Artists

"The performances on this disc are uniformly outstanding. . . ."—American Record Guide, "Hobson's intellect has created a most original and sophisticated musical world of the first order."—Jacques-Louis Monod
Genre: Classical: Contemporary
Release Date: 

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  Song Share Time Download
1. Isorhythm No. 1
Margaret Kampmeier
6:55 $0.99
2. Isorhythm No. 2
Margaret Kampmeier
7:07 $0.99
3. Octet, Pt. I
The Guild of Composers Chamber Ensemble & Jacques-Louis Monod
5:40 $0.99
4. Octet, Pt. II
The Guild of Composers Chamber Ensemble & Jacques-Louis Monod
4:13 $0.99
5. Octet, Pt. III
The Guild of Composers Chamber Ensemble & Jacques-Louis Monod
3:09 $0.99
6. Countours, Pts. I, II & III
Margaret Kampmeier
15:24 album only
7. Portrait No. 1, To a Steam Roller
Jan Opalach & Gaït Sirguey
2:46 $0.99
8. Portrait No. 2, Tywater
Jan Opalach & Gaït Sirguey
3:56 $0.99
9. Portrait No. 3, A Busy Man Speaks
Jan Opalach & Gaït Sirguey
5:16 $0.99
10. Concerto for Three Groups, Pt. I
Warsaw Philharmonic Chamber Orchestra & José Maria Florêncio
4:06 $0.99
11. Concerto for Three Groups, Pts. II & III
Warsaw Philharmonic Chamber Orchestra & José Maria Florêncio
8:24 $0.99
12. Concerto for Three Groups, Pt. IV
Warsaw Philharmonic Chamber Orchestra & José Maria Florêncio
3:31 $0.99
Downloads are available as MP3-320 files.


Album Notes
American Record Guide reviewed this album:

“The pieces on [this] Equinox disc are tightly structured and fine sounding. Hobson has a very strong sense of the nature of chromatic harmony, and his 'extensions' of tonality really 'sound'. . . The performances on this disc are uniformly outstanding, with a special nod to Margaret Kampmeier, who puts forward Hobson's fine piano works with skill and expression.”

Fanfare Magazine also reviewed the album:

“I urge curious listeners with Internet access to hear the music for themselves, as Hobson's is a voice well worth experiencing. . . . The Two Isorhythms and Contours are especially impressive works. . . . They are very beautiful. . . . Recommended.”

The composer writes:

Passion has always been the sine qua non of my music. While it is true that I am unable to compose without a simple, germinal concept on which to build, my expressive goal is always to convey emotion. This goal is tempered by the awareness that a musical shape and the emotional response to it can vary considerably. As Susanne Langer says in Philosophy in a New Key, "what music can actually reflect is only the morphology of feeling; . . . If it reveals the rationale of feelings, the rhythm and pattern of their rise and decline and intertwining, to our minds, then it is a force in our mental life, our awareness and understanding, and not only our affective experience." The shapes of music and the shapes of emotion are similar as they develop in time.

For a composer like myself, writing program notes involves navigating a perilous narrow passage between the two sirens of advertorial puffery and compositional techno-babble. But here goes.

Like all of the works appearing here, the Two Isorhythms use the chromatic scale freely and are conceived as highly chromatic extensions of tonal music. The name of this 1982 composition is derived from the adjective "isorhythmic," which describes a repeating rhythmic motive scheme that was applied to the tenor and upper parts of 14th century motets. This ancient liturgical technique has been adapted to the more modern calling of an intense lyricism. Each Isorhythm has its own unique motive that permeates the figuration, phrases, and sections of the piece by means of rhythmic diminution, augmentation, and macro augmentation. The overriding musical concern in these pieces is the creation of simple expressive links between the details, middle ground, and large form of each work. The goals of motion and expressive trajectory of the different levels are similar. The overall shape can be heard in the manner of assembling a Russian doll: from the smallest inside piece to the largest outside shell. The work was premiered at a 1983 Guild of Composers concert in New York with myself as pianist.

The Octet, completed in 1980, was composed with the hope of having it conducted by my mentor, Jacques-Louis Monod. The premiere and this recording took place in February of 1987 with Mr. Monod conducting the Guild of Composers Chamber Ensemble. Each of the three parts in this composition has a predominant tempo: I--slow, II--fast, and III--moderate; similarly, each has its own theme, texture, and developmental structure. The first part, marked cantabile, begins with a stately chorale-like presentation of the theme and while maintaining a melody plus accompaniment texture gradually builds in activity and volume to a forceful ending.

Counterpoint is the reigning texture of the second part, which begins with a statement of the nine note theme by the first cello. The theme becomes more and more erratic as it is broken into smaller and smaller segments and tossed from instrument to instrument. A little past the halfway point the process reverses itself; the theme reassembles and calms down to lead to a quiet, relaxed ending.

The third part bursts into life with a homophonic statement of its theme and immediately becomes a raucous chase of paired instruments. Various alliances of pairs test the theme by canonic imitation, fragmentation, stretto, augmentation, diminution, even retrograde until everyone comes to a triple forte consensus at the end.

Contours can be described as an expressionistic neoromantic composition; it received its world premiere in 1995 with pianist Margaret Kampmeier. Using a technique similar to the Two Isorhythms, this 1992 work is based upon a single rhythmic phrase and builds the goals of motion of the entire piece around this phrase. Chordal points in the polyphony form local as well as section level statements of the rhythm and its expressive trajectory. Melodic presentation of the same motive is organized in a three part scheme of growth, disintegration, and regrowth. Starting from a fortissimo, pointillistic anarchy of two and three note fragments, an eleven note lyrical theme is gradually assembled in two note increments (from the beginning to 4' 26") only to continue towards anarchy again (until 8' 38") and to rebuild the theme for its clearest, most intensely lyrical presentation at the end.

Three poems by different 20th century American poets are the foundation of the Three Portraits for baritone voice and piano, completed in 1969. A different personality type is vividly and powerfully drawn in each of these poems. The music is designed to be the servant of the words, which are sung as they appear in the poems without modification of the text. The music of the voice part was composed first after a careful study of the poetic structure; then the piano part was derived from the vocal material. The premiere by Gerald Lindahl with pianist Bennett Lerner took place in 1972.

Originally conceived as a brass sextet with electronically manipulated piano sounds on tape, the Concerto for Three Groups grew into a large chamber work where Groups II and III take the place of left and right stereo speakers. With high winds to the left and low brass plus celeste to the right, Groups II and III are assigned a distinction of range and color in addition to the spacial separation. The orchestration moves the music in space, at times suddenly and explosively as in the opening of the piece or smoothly and slowly as at the start of Part IV. The two pianos and percussion play a dominant role in Part III (which begins at 5' 9" in Parts II-III).

Metronome marks are used to indicate tempo, but the four parts follow a general pattern of I--allegro moderato, II--andante, III--vivace, and IV--andante con moto.

A technique of motivic collage is used throughout the piece. As motives from Parts I and II reappear in Parts III and IV they are gradually modified to be more alike and unified. Dating from 1969 this intensely contrapuntal and expressionistic piece shows the impetuousness of youth as well as the spirit of rebellion that was so prevalent at that time.



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