Big Ears, Big Mouths

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Goethe once said "music starts where words end." But what about when the words continue and the music joins in? All Ears celebrates this overlap by offering selections that combine music and speech by Gavin Bryars, Scott Johnson and Eric Whitacre.

In How it Happens, Scott Johnson samples prerecorded speech by investigative journalist I. F. Stone. Johnson shrewdly captures Stone's character with musical gestures to reflect his ideas, speech inflections and rhythms. Whitacre recalls being caught in a desert rainstorm in Cloudburst. As the performers sing and speak the text by poet Octavio Paz, finger snaps begin to trickle like raindrops throughout the ensemble as ethereal sounds rise from the percussion and piano.

We find shelter from the rain of Cloudburst in Gavin Bryars' A Man in a Room, Gambling. Bryars pairs a speaker with a string quartet, using the strings to intensify the spoken text. The text, taken from S. W. Erdnase's book The Expert at the Card Table, demystifies the art of deception in card playing.

In other works, it's better when things are left unspoken. Words are of no use in William Grant Still's tenderhearted Summerland and Paul Moravec's humorous Scherzo.

Also this week: works with spoken text by Harry Partch and Marty Rubinstein, and much more.



William Grant Still
More Still
Vivian Taylor, piano

Peteris Vasks
Riga Philharmonic Orchestra
Kriss Rusmanis, conductor

How It Happens: Soliloquy
Scott Johnson
Kronos Quartet
I. F. Stone, speaker

Artists Ought to Be Writing
Jason Moran
Jason Moran, piano
Marvin Sewell, guitar
Tarus Mateen, bass
Nasheet Waits, drums

Paul Moravec
Trio Solisti

Trinkle Tinkle
Thelonious Monk
Marcus Roberts, piano

Cheating, Lying, Stealing
David Lang
Bang on A Can All Stars

Fantasie for Oud and String Quartet
Simon Shaheen
Simon Shaheen, oud
Mark Pisconoff, violin
Midhat Serbaji, viola
Tomas Ulrich, cello
Jamie Haddad, mangolian frame drum
Ark21 Records

Eric Whitacre
Stephen Layton, conductor

A Man in a Room, Gambling
Gavin Bryars
Gavin Bryars Ensemble
Juan Munoz, narrator (Huan Munyoz)

Bach to Bach
Marty Rubinstein
Marty Rubinstein, piano
Elaine May, narrator
Mike Nichols, narrator

The Dreamer That Remains -- A Study In Loving
Harry Partch
Harry Partch Ensemble
Jack Logan, conductor
Harry Partch, intoning voice, narrator
New World

Suite for Cello and Harp
Lou Harrison
Nina Flyer, cello
Dan Levitan, harp