This week on the New Canon, we spin Anthony Paul De Ritis's Devolution in its entirety. Recorded by Gil Rose with the Boston Modern Orchestra Project and special guest DJ Spooky for BMOP's in-house label, it's our current album of the week.
What I love about Devolution, the album and its title piece, is that where De Ritis could be dealing in straight-up gimmicks—Beethoven's Seventh and Ravel's Bolero meeting on a sort of musical battleground as the orchestra plays something else entirely—it's actually an illuminating look at these two disparate works within the context of a new work. Rather than fight one another, everybody wins in the end (though not without some compelling sonic conflict).
We'll hear that in a lot of new releases explored this week. For starters, there's Jeremy Denk's new disc on Nonesuch that pits Books I and II of Ligeti's Piano Études against a Beethoven sonata (Denk has also played the Ligeti against Bach's Goldberg Variations, which is an even crunchier contrast). Though even heard as standalone works, Denk's talents leave no stone unturned in Ligeti's sound world.
There's the unlikely pairing of accordion and violin in a new work by Danish composer Kaspar Rofelt, paired with a work by Finn Høffding—a fellow Dane born almost a century before Rofelt. The references and pairings can be a bit more subtle, too, as we hear in a work by Alexander Goehr, a student of Messiaen's whose father, conductor Walter Goehr, was a student of Schoenberg's. When Walter died, Alexander wrote a memoriam piece that doesn't directly quote, but rather borrows subliminal messaging from Mussorgsky's Pictures at an Exhibition to give his father a proper sendoff.