Daily Doses of George Crumb's 'Makrokosmos'
Monday, December 31, 2012
Here we are, pre-New Year and post-Mayan "apocalypse", confronted with another expiration of a calendar year, another completed revolution, and the contemplation of that particular sort of cosmic mystery. This week, though, we'll have an apt and well-equipped guide: ring in the New Year on Hammered! with the mysterious resonating body that is the music of George Crumb.
Known for his unusual timbral worlds, unorthodox notation, and preoccupation with the cosmic and supernatural, George Crumb's music is irreplaceable and inimitable. The central work that we'll explore this week is his four-volume Makrokosmos, one volume per day Monday through Thursday. Opening the cycle are two volumes subtitled Twelve Fantasy-Pieces After the Zodiac, which -- although comprised of entirely different music -- are structured with the same three-by-four movement scheme. Chock-full of extra-pianistic techniques, including strumming, string harmonics, mutes, and more, these two extraordinary works are some of the most affecting -- and otherworldly -- works in all of Crumb's oeuvre.
Volume three is the remarkable Music For A Summer Evening for two pianos and two percussion, which, truly, has no rival in terms of sheer acoustic awesomeness. Makrokosmos concludes on Thursday with Celestial Mechanics for piano four-hands, and, on Friday, we'll round off the Crumb-inspired week with Otherworldly Resonances.
Complementing these wonderful pieces are works by Vincent Persichetti (Winter Solstice), William Bolcom (New York Lights), Wayne Horvits (After All These Years), and, of course, JacobTV's, a.k.a. Jacob Ter Veldhuis', Postnuclear Winterscenario No. 1.