New Wave, Old School

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Duality drives a lot of today’s composers. On the one hand, they continue the threads started by the likes of Monteverdi, Handel, Beethoven and Ravel. On the other, they’re also working with a preponderance of musical genres that, had they existed in the 17th, 18th or 19th Centuries, would surely have been drawn on as well by their predecessors. I really love it when you can hear both sides of the coin in a work, because no one musical genre exists in a vacuum. The more interesting music instead shows off the various paths that converge to form a sonic place where we as listeners all meet. And with so many composers turning out music that does just that this month, we give a nod to four—or, if we want to continue on our duality kick, two pairs—of them.

Q2’s Album of the Week is the NOW Ensemble’s just-released Awake. Here we’ll sample it with self-described “indie-classical” composer Judd Greenstein’s Change, a work that epitomizes Ravelian texture and beauty along with a piano rock circa Angry Young Man-era Billy Joel. Unsurprisingly, Greenstein himself says that his works have rooting in his childhood love of hip hop as well as classical piano training. We're also offering another track from Awake for download this week; starting Monday you can get a free copy of Mark Dancigers's Burst right here.  

Also new to the table is the Chiara String Quartet’s recording of Jefferson Friedman’s String Quartets Nos. 2 and 3. Listening to the latter, you’re reminded of the intensity of Beethoven’s Kreutzer Sonata or Shostakovich’s Violin Concerto but carry a post-punk, Jesus and Mary Chain-esque rhythm. We talk more about this recording with the Chiara Quartet's violinist Rebecca Fischer and violist Jonah Sirota in today’s live chat. Add in your own questions below or Tweet them to us with the hashtag #q2new.

Rounding out the mix today is a sampling from Toby Twining’s new work, Eurydice, which tempers a Monteverdian and Gluck aesthetic with addictive Paul Simon (circa Graceland) idioms. As part of Q2's Gavin Bryars celebration, Never Failed Me Yet, we'll hear the composer's emo-tinged and improv-influenced After Handel’s Vesper.