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The Guitar Music Of Karl Korte / Duo 46

Album Summary

>Korte, Karl : Evocations, for 2 guitars & cello
>Korte, Karl : Two Makams, for 2 guitars
>Korte, Karl : Virtual Voices, for 2 guitars
Performer Ensemble Composer

Notes & Reviews:

The music of Karl Korte has a scope and a variety that makes classification of it difficult. Professor Emeritus of Composition at the University of Texas at Austin and recently a Visiting Professor of Music at Williams College, he is now retired from teaching and lives in Cambridge, N.Y. Raised in Englewood, N.J. his father was a sculptor and was responsible for his earliest exposure to classical music. In high school, his musical influences and activities were mostly in the areas of jazz and popular music, and he played the trumpet in a variety of bands and orchestras. After discharge from the Army, where he played trumpet with the First Army Band, he entered the Juilliard School where his teachers included Peter Mennin, William Bergsma and Vincent Persichetti. Later teachers include Geofreddo Petrassi, Otto Luening and Aaron Copland. Over the years he has created a body of work that ranges from chamber music to symphonies, as well as choral works ranging from oratorios to a number of short works intended for school and church use.

"Karl Korte (b.1928) is a scrupulous composer of music that's of high quality and not easily categorized (disclosure: though I've never met him, I wrote the notes for one of his CDs, and am cited on his Web site). These three works are the fruit of his ongoing recent collaboration with Duo46: Matt Gould, guitar, and Beth-Ilana Schneider-Gould, violin.

Korte has a gift for writing music that's fluid (it always has an idea and knows how to develop it), focused on clear and memorable motives, and harmonically rich but neither chromatically clotted nor too tonally predictable. He has a naturally sophisticated rhythmic sense. Two of the three works also show a sympathy for musics from non-Western classical traditions. The trio Evocations (2004) takes inspiration from New Zealand Maori, Japanese, and Cypriot sources. The 2003 Two Makams are derived from Turkish musical practice. In all of these there's a sense of natural engagement with these traditions, neither ethnographically slavish nor culturally cavalier.

Another form of engagement is with the electroacoustic tradition, represented by Virtual Voices (2007), for the duo with fixed media accompaniment. This is a substantial work, almost 20 minutes long, with the electronic component being a recording derived from samples of the performers that are in turn processed and layered. The blend is subtle and smooth; rarely are there dramatically perceptible differences between the live and recorded. Rather, one feels a general expansion of the performative field. My only reservation is that without seeing the piece I find it hard at times to distinguish what is "live" and what "taped" (shades of Memorex!). This isn't a criticism of the piece, so much as of the best means of presentation and archiving. But all composers do their best with what they can.

Perhaps Korte's greatest contribution is simply creating this body of work for Duo46. I've been hearing of them for some years now, and this recording shows them to be superb players. Their instrumentation is a beautiful balance - two strings, both relatively homogeneous in timbre but with a wide variety of special effects, one plucked and one bowed (though of course the violin has pizzicato in its arsenal). Similar and also very different. The result is an extremely satisfying chamber sound. I know there's a good deal of literature for this pairing, but most that I know of tends to be more in the parlor/salon genre. Duo46 (four strings and six strings, I assume) demonstrates with this disc that composers should be stepping up to the plate and creating works of substance and variety for the medium, as it seems quite capable of handling them.

Overall, a very appealing project, well performed and produced."-Fanfare



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Works Details

>Korte, Karl : Evocations, for 2 guitars & cello
  • Performer: Erich Huetter (Cello)
  • Ensemble: Duo 46
  • Running Time: 20 min. 43 sec.
  • Period Time: Modern
  • Written: 2004

>Korte, Karl : Two Makams, for 2 guitars
  • Ensemble: Duo 46
  • Running Time: 11 min. 18 sec.
  • Period Time: Modern
  • Written: 2003

>Korte, Karl : Virtual Voices, for 2 guitars
  • Ensemble: Duo 46
  • Running Time: 17 min. 23 sec.
  • Period Time: Modern
  • Written: 2003