wild Up's 'Feather & Stone' Spotlights Los Angeles Composers

Q2 Music Album of the Week for July 14, 2014

Monday, July 14, 2014

Recorded live at three separately-themed shows, "Feather & Stone" – the new release from Los Angeles-based ensemble wild Up - tugs its listener between the textures of its title objects: the feather, as ethereal and untethered, and the gritty and grounded stone. One heightens the atmosphere of the other, magnifying it like a white pattern on a black background. “We’ll play it, as long as we love it,” reads the group’s mission statement, and that ownership can be felt in each turn, each startling transition, each surprise.

wild Up is directed by Christopher Rountree, a young composer and conductor who has held the baton for the Brooklyn Philharmonic and San Diego Symphony. He has created a large, flexible, imaginative ensemble, the kind that seems to be magnetically pulling some of the West Coast’s best musicians together. With many composers in-house (four out of the seven featured on "Feather & Stone," in fact), the ensemble’s repertoire is rightfully ambitious.

Rountree’s own piece, Stand Still Like the Hummingbird, kicks the album off with swaying, jazzy vibes. It develops dramatically, Louis Andriessen-like sounds pushing their way through as it ebbs and flows, and showcases wild Up’s ability to fully grasp and deliver a dense piece. It’s a story for the listener to follow.

The album then shifts 180 degrees to Nicholas Deyoe’s A New Anxiety. Deyoe’s droning piece with sharp, reckless percussion feels darker and more angled after Rountree’s than it would following silence. The transition between Still Not a Place to Build Monuments or Cathedrals by Andrew Tholl and This Nest, Swift Passerine by Chris Kallmyer is similar in the opposite direction. After Tholl’s violent clamor of ensemble and guitar, Kallmyer’s controlled, yearning cellos and low brass swell as recorded bird calls become crucial white noise. These switches happen inside singular pieces, too, like flipping through the catalog of found sounds in Odeya Nini’s Dante Quartet.

"Feather & Stone" offers up some surprises, but it’s also an exercise in perspective. Without the stone, the feather loses some of itself, and vice versa. We need the aggressive bite of electronics to illuminate what really makes a note on the violin unique. The clear hum of a saxophone sets the stage for a tightly-packed cloud of snare and cymbal. Maybe the surprises, then, can't be called surprises at all—they’re the product of a sonic jigsaw. It's all part of the plan. 

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Comments [3]

Kenneth Bennett Lane, Lake Hiawatha, NJ from Richard Wagner Music Drama Institute, Boonton,, NJ

Please excuse my laughable typo: helfentenor, which should have been heldentenor.

Jul. 17 2014 10:00 PM
Kenneth Bennett Lane, Lake Hiawatha, NJ from Richard Wagner Music Drama Institute, Boonton, NJ

My cousin MICHAEL BLANKFORT also wrote the book and screenplay for the 1950 film BROKEN ARROW starring JAMES STEWART and JEFF CHANDLER [as COCHISE]. Michael, after hearing me sing tried to encourage me to go Hollywood, that he would arrange for the screen test. I thanked him but felt, rightly so, that opera talent scouts do not go to Hollywood seeking opera singers. My career, as a helfentenor, started as most singers eager to develop experience and rep used to set out for in Europe. Nowadays, the Europeans restricted financially, proffer potential careers only to rare fach singers such as echt heldentenors and basso profundos.

Jul. 17 2014 09:54 PM
Kenneth Bennett Lane, Lake Hiawatha, NJ from Richard Wagner Music Drama Institute, Boonton, NJ

Trenton, NJ born GEORGE ANTHEIL was famous as a composer with his opera TRANSATLANTIC and his BALLET MECHANIQUE when Hollywood lured him with richly paid commisions for composing music backgrounds for over one hundred films. My cousin MICHAEAL BLANKFORT wrote the book and screenplay for THE JUGGLER the 1953 Paramount film with music by GEORGE ANTHEIL starring KIRK DOUGLAS. I got to do the tenor role of MOSCA in the 30 performance New York professional premiere of ANTHEIL's opera VOLPONE [based on the play of the same name by BEN JONSON, SHAKESPEARE's colleague and friend, a famous playwright in his own right. at the CHERRY LANE THEATER. At the audition for the casting of the opera I was astonished at the appearance of ANTHEIL. He exactly looked like PETER LORRE. ANTHEIL's BALLET MECHANIQUE created a sensational news item when the airplane propellor was turned on in CARNEGIE HALL's presentation of the work to represent modern times' sophistication, sending the program's booklets flying. An old codger tied his handkerchief onto his cane and standing waved it vigorously "surrendering." That picture made the front pages of newspapers world-wide. ANTHEIL was also the person responsible for Hollywood's getting its young star;lets to have their busts enlarged with silicon.

Jul. 17 2014 12:59 PM

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About Q2 Music Album of the Week

Q2 Music's Album of the Week is our weekly review of the newest and most dynamic contemporary classical releases. It focuses on musical discovery, world premiere recordings and fresh perspectives on today's classical landscape. Read our review and stream the album on-demand for one week only at www.wqxr.org/q2music/


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