Flexible Music | FM

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by Flexible Music

Debut album by New York City based new music quartet of saxophone, guitar, piano, and percussion. "A feast of intimate musical possibilities."- Gramophone
Genre: Classical: Contemporary
Release Date: 

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  Song Share Time Download
clip
1. Hout
10:41 album only
clip
2. Flexible Music
7:28 album only
clip
3. Around the Bend
9:49 album only
clip
4. Closing Time
12:55 album only
clip
5. Sustenance Variations
10:17 album only
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6. Throw Down or Shut Up
8:10 album only

ABOUT THIS ALBUM


Album Notes
Flexible Music is:
Haruka Fujii: percussion
Dan Lippel: guitars
Tim Ruedeman: saxophones
Eric Huebner: piano

Hout- Louis Andriessen
Flexible Music- Nico Muhly
Around the Bend- John Link
Closing Time- Ryan Streber
Sustenance Variations- Orianna Webb
Throw Down or Shut Up- Vineet Shende
"The quartet known as Flexible Music derives its name from the title of the Nico Muhly piece that the group plays on its new disc. Like that score, the programme's other works by Louis Andriessen, John Link, Ryan Streber, Orianna Webb, and Vineet Shende take percussion, piano, saxophones, and guitars through fascinating textural, rhythmic, and colouristic terrain. The results are varied and vital, a feast of intimate musical possibilities.
The disc's springboard is Andriessen's beguiling Hout, which has been recorded by several other ensembles. Dutch for "wood", the piece is a canon that finds the instruments chasing each other at pell-mell speed, occassionally stopping in their tracks amid the hypnotic activity, sensual gestures and group exclamation points. Muhly's Flexible Music is exactly that. Inspired by video games, its energy is relentless, with swirling, punching ideas momentarily relaxed with lyrical lines. In Link's Around the Bend, something surprising is always lurking, from exotic tambourine sighs to quickly shared fragments, dreamy piano lines and sudden outbursts.
An electric guitar broods in Streber's Closing Time, which is animated through saxophone flights and feisty interaction. Tidbits emerge from hushed moments, and the saxophone and guitar have extended solos before the music fades away.
The aura veers from the frisky to the still in Webb's Sustenance Variations, whose punchy chords and confrontational episodes find a keen balance amid lines of haunting poetry. Shende pays homage to James Brown in Throw Down or Shut Up, whose vigorous activity includes vocal grunts, riffs, shifting rhythms and a sassy finish.
The members of Flexible Music are undaunted by the repertoire's formidable demands. Haruka Fujii (percussion), Eric Huebner (piano), Timothy Ruedeman (saxophones), and Daniel Lippel (guitars) appear to relish the sense of discovery that these composers have invested in their captivating creations."-

Donald Rosenberg, Gramophone August 2009

"...Flexible Music, a young and vigorous New York City-based quartet. Aggressiveness, virtuosity, and seamless ensemble playing are obviously Flexible Music hallmarks, and these strengths are revealed immediately with a blistering account of Louis Andriessen's Hout, the piece that one imagines was the catalyst that brought the quartet together. While calling any work a tour de force may seem terribly cliche, it's really the only term that aptly describes Hout. It's a relentless piece, beginning with what seems like a never-ending canon at the 16th note. From there, the work never really lets the ensemble take a breath, but the players of Flexible Music handle the music's technical and ensemble demands so well that they seem like the musical equivalent of deep sea pearl divers. In the present new music milieu of countless oddly staffed ensembles, Flexible Music has one of the more exciting combinations of instruments and probably one of the most, um, flexible out there in terms of their ability to capture such a broad range of sounds and styles.
—Brian Sacawa, New Music Box, August 2009

“…Flexible Music, a NYC-based ensemble that gleefully bounces among classical, jazz and rock sensibilities.
Philadelphia City Paper, November 2008

“This was my first encounter with Flexible Music, but it certainly won't be my last. Each player was estimable in his or her own right; together, they provided a broad canvas upon which tonight's composers could unfurl their imaginations.”
Steve Smith, Night after Night Blog (Music Reviewer for NY Times and Time Out NY)

“Orianna Webb's Sustenance Variations for Flexible Music, a quartet of percussion, piano, saxophones, and guitar, is exciting, even in the still passages, and entirely convincing.” American Record Guide, March/April 2008

"When a group of talented and passionate young musicians commit to 21st century composers, it’s always a cause for rejoicing, and such a group is Flexible Music. Even Flexible Music’s unique configuration of piano, sax, guitar, and percussion says “now” with its instrumentation referencing rock, jazz, and the avant-garde among other things. The composers were very well served by Flexible Music, whose individual mastery of their instruments was matched by the strength of their communication. With intelligence and energy in equal measure, they worked wonders as a group, whether creating glowing resonant combinations, interlocking rhythmic lines, or just thrashing away together."
David Hanlon, CultureBot.org

"Part of the 21st century D.I.Y. new music mantra has been to turn the page on tired, old school instrumental combinations like the string quartet, the brass quintet, or the woodwind quintet. Hell, even Pierrot ensemble is starting to feel a little passé. Sure, they’re still around, and composers will continue to write music for them because even though those types of ensembles might be listed in the "been there, done that" category, they’re also tried and true. But it seems like new music composers and performers these days are looking for something different. Something edgier. Something that captures the spirit of the music they grew up listening to—be it The Beatles, Debbie Gibson, or Nine Inch Nails, et al.—not necessarily the music they were taught in their music history classes and composition lessons.

One need only take a quick look around the current new music landscape to see the effects of popular music on the work of a new breed of composers who have embraced it equally alongside their conservatory training. But yet for all of the borrowing from pop music new music professes to be engaged in, the one-hit wonder is something that hasn't quite caught on yet. So whether an upstart ensemble with a limited repertory sinks or swims depends wholly on what new compositions they are able to generate for their group. This is the path the members of Flexible Music, a young and vigorous New York City-based quartet, have chosen for themselves.

Aggressiveness, virtuosity, and seamless ensemble playing are obviously Flexible Music hallmarks, and these strengths are revealed immediately with a blistering account of Louis Andriessen's Hout, the piece that one imagines was the catalyst that brought the quartet together. While calling any work a tour de force may seem terribly cliché, it's really the only term that aptly describes Hout. It's a relentless piece, beginning with what seems like a never-ending canon at the 16th note. From there, the work never really lets the ensemble take a breath, but the players of Flexible Music handle the music's technical and ensemble demands so well that they seem like the musical equivalent of deep sea pearl divers.

On an album dedicated to introducing us to Flexible Music and showing off the breadth of the group's abilities, Hout displays a monolithic quality that seems to have wielded a tremendously powerful influence over each composer's approach to writing for the ensemble. Works such as Vineet Shende's Throw Down or Shut Up and Ryan Streber's Closing Time use many of the same devices—virtuosic instrumental writing and tricky composite line ensemble pass-offs—that make Hout so successful, even if the composers' language is different. And Orianna Webb's Sustenance Variations, though given to fleeting moments of repose, is never far away from the aggressiveness that permeates the entire album. Of the new works written for Flexible Music included on the disc, John Link's Around the Bend does the best job of exploiting some of the more unique color combinations of the ensemble.

In the present new music milieu of countless oddly staffed ensembles, Flexible Music has one of the more exciting combinations of instruments and probably one of the most, um, flexible out there in terms of their ability to capture such a broad range of sounds and styles. And with what appears to be a stable of many willing and able composers and over 30 commissioned works to their credit so far, they don't appear in danger of becoming a one-hit wonder. But as the group moves forward, they should work to expand their range and embrace their namesake so as not to become a one-trick pony." - Brian Sacawa- New Music Box July 2009


The six year old Flexible Music ensemble is committed to expanding the repertoire for their instrumentation of saxophone, guitar, piano, and percussion. The versatility of this combination has already captured the attention of many composers; Flexible Music premiered works written for them by thirty emerging and established composers. Flexible Music has been featured in performance and in masterclasses at various universities including Syracuse University, Bowdoin College in Maine, Bowling Green State University’s Mid American Center for New Music Festival, the Peabody Insitute, Manhattan School of Music, Brigham Young University, University of Pennsylvania, University of Utah, the Julliard School, and the Cleveland Institute of Music. The group has also enthusiastically performed on independently run series, such as Chamber Music Now (Philadelphia), Friends and Enemies of New Music (NY), Evolution Music Series (Baltimore), Wet Ink Musics (NY) and at The Stone (NYC), The members of Flexible Music are four of New York’s most active young performers; they have all been heard as soloists and chamber musicians nationally and internationally. The ensemble is heard on two recent releases from New Focus Recordings, FM, their debut full length recording, and Sustenance, playing two of the works written for them, as well as on a Capstone Records release of the music of Allen Brings. Several foundations have awarded money to support activities involving Flexible Music, including the American Music Center’s Aaron Copland Fund for Performing Ensembles, Meet the Composer’s JP Morgan Regrant Program, American Composers Forum Encore Grant, Barlow Foundation (to commission Ethan Wickman), the Mikhashoff Trust for New Music (to fund a recording), and Meet the Composer (to defray travel costs for Adam B. Silverman).

Flexible Music is:
Haruka Fujii: percussion
Dan Lippel: guitars
Tim Ruedeman: saxophones
Eric Huebner: piano

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