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Morris Rosenzweig: Home and Away / NY Music Ensemble

Audio Samples

>Rosenzweig, Morris : Past Light, for clarinet, bass clarinet, violin, cello & piano
>Rosenzweig, Morris : Just One Step Beyond
>Rosenzweig, Morris : A Table of the Most Used Chords, for 4 horns
>Rosenzweig, Morris : Person, place, etc., duo for flutes & percussion
>Rosenzweig, Morris : Reprise, for violin, viola, cello, bass & piano
>Rosenzweig, Morris : Rough Sleepers, for ensemble

Album Summary

>Rosenzweig, Morris : Past Light, for clarinet, bass clarinet, violin, cello & piano
>Rosenzweig, Morris : Just One Step Beyond
>Rosenzweig, Morris : A Table of the Most Used Chords, for 4 horns
>Rosenzweig, Morris : Person, place, etc., duo for flutes & percussion
>Rosenzweig, Morris : Reprise, for violin, viola, cello, bass & piano
>Rosenzweig, Morris : Rough Sleepers, for ensemble
Performers Ensembles Composer

Notes & Reviews:

Morris Rosenzweig was born October 1, 1952 in New Orleans, where he grew up among the tailors, merchants, and strong-willed women of an extended family that has lived in southern Louisiana since the mid 1890s. His works have been widely presented throughout the United States, as well as in Europe, Japan, Argentina, Mexico and Israel. His recorded compositions are available on Albany Records Centaur, and New World/CRI. Mr. Rosenzweig has received honors from the Guggenheim Foundation, the Rockefeller Foundation, an Academy Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, commissions from the Koussevitzky Foundation in the Library of Congress, the Argosy Foundation, the Fromm Foundation at Harvard University, and support from the Alice M. Ditson Fund. Presently Professor of Music at the University of Utah, he has formerly held positions at Queens College and New York University. He was educated at the Eastman School of Music, the University of Pennsylvania, and Columbia University.

"Instead of being the original soundtrack of Australia's favorite soap opera, Home and Away is the title of Morris Rosenzweig's collection of chamber works that deal with ideas of belonging, origin, and heritage. Now professor of music at Utah University, Rosenzweig has written numerous compositions that have been performed internationally, and there is, in my view, an eclectic flavor to his sharp, angular writing, with nods both to European Modernism and American music traditions. The collection here embraces themes of his homeland (he was born in New Orleans in 1952) as well as radical, atonal homages to Mussorgsky and old-fashioned music theory.

Past Light , a kind of abstract clarinet quartet, is at first glance really quite conventional, with a slow second movement and wistful, lyrical use of clarinet contrasting with the shivery, atonal string parts. The piano writing is gloriously scatological and fun, at times jazzy, at others cold, like in the second movement's drip-drip rain effect, a much-needed instrument of relief and character in an otherwise tense, harmonically broken work.

The success of Just One Step Beyond is due to its charming instrumentation; the viola and cimbalom should be paired more often, with the latter instrument's folksy menace contrasting wonderfully with the viola's neurotic, wheedling lines (as Rosenzweig has it). This well-constructed piece hopefully will become an established addition to the viola repertoire. His humor is also heard to advantage in A Table of the Most Used Chords , a horn quartet homage not to the basic harmonies, taught from music theory books, but rather the sorts of harmonies he generally uses. The blocks of sound swell in and out, broken free from any harmonic straitjacket, incorporating a variety of effects like the foghorn sound toward the end. This is a warm-hearted, modernist glimpse at old music-theory tradition, as well as a celebration of the brass instrument's harmonic position in orchestral writing. In contrast to that piece's warm, all-brass textures, Rosenzweig attempts something more diverse with Reprise ; in addition to the standard piano quintet, like Schubert's "Trout" quintet, base is added, percussive effects are drawn from the string instruments, creating a primal feel to the conventional setup. Like Past Light this is a work of disjointed lines and rhythmic uncertainty, but unlike that work's glimpses of fun and warmth, a colder feel is created here.

Apart from the eerie second and third movements with their much-needed use of glockenspiel, I was initially quite irritated with person, place, etc. , an at first dead-end combination of flutes and percussion; the opening takes a while to evolve from its aimless percussively moded flute and drumming, until finally a more incisive beat is picked up. Primal, repeated rhythms, bluesy flute writing, and glimpses of melody all eventually combine into a four-movement paean to origin and homeland. The shrill, penultimate movement, titled "KV&G," drolly refers to Mussorgsky's anti-Semitic portrayal of Samuel Goldenberg and Schmuyle in Pictures at an Exhibition.

Rough Sleepers , dubbed (by Brian Hulse, writer of the liner notes) an electric-acoustic three-part oratorio, is most notable for its bleak, uncompromising chamber accompaniment, a sincere and agonized tribute to survivors of Hurricane Katrina and other homeless street dwellers from American cities. On top of this, Rosenzweig adds a sound collage of real audio clips from the people themselves; cripples, the recently homeless, street buskers, and prostitutes all jostle one another in a riot of urban tragedy. The result is never less than interesting, but all the clips, despite his tricks of distortion, feel a little randomly slapped on to the accompaniment; more could have been done to play around with the overlapping rhythms of their contrasting speech patterns, to make a genuine electronic composition.

The playing, however, is uniformly good throughout, with performances of character and warmth. The production values are also high for such a self-produced affair, with sound that is exceptionally well-balanced and precise. Notes are fine but there is one glaring mistake: Reprise is not track 10, but instead track 6. Otherwise there is little to complain about on this extensive collection of one of America's most intriguing composers."-Fanfare

Notes & Reviews:

Recording information: Libby Gardner Hall, Salt Lake City.



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Works Details

>Rosenzweig, Morris : Past Light, for clarinet, bass clarinet, violin, cello & piano
  • Ensemble: New York New Music Ensemble
  • Running Time: 16 min. 35 sec.
  • Period Time: Contemporary

>Rosenzweig, Morris : Just One Step Beyond
  • Performers: Roberta Zalkind (Viola); Igor Iachimciuc (Cimbalom)
  • Running Time: 6 min. 16 sec.
  • Period Time: Contemporary
  • Written: 1997

>Rosenzweig, Morris : A Table of the Most Used Chords, for 4 horns
  • Running Time: 11 min. 59 sec.
  • Period Time: Contemporary

>Rosenzweig, Morris : Person, place, etc., duo for flutes & percussion
  • Performers: Carlton Vickers (Flute); Glenn Webb (Percussion)
  • Running Time: 17 min. 39 sec.
  • Period Time: Contemporary

>Rosenzweig, Morris : Reprise, for violin, viola, cello, bass & piano
  • Running Time: 3 min. 32 sec.
  • Period Time: Contemporary
  • Form: Chamber Music

>Rosenzweig, Morris : Rough Sleepers, for ensemble
  • Ensemble: Canyonlands Ensemble
  • Notes: Libby Gardner Hall, Salt Lake City (09/03/2008-09/05/2008)
  • Running Time: 19 min. 6 sec.
  • Period Time: Contemporary