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Julia Wolfe: Cruel Sister

Audio Samples

>Wolfe, Julia : Cruel Sister, for string ensemble
>Wolfe, Julia : Fuel, for string ensemble

Album Summary

>Wolfe, Julia : Cruel Sister, for string ensemble
>Wolfe, Julia : Fuel, for string ensemble
Performer Conductor Ensemble Composer

Notes & Reviews:

Provocative and intense, Julia Wolfe's music combines minimalist techniques, repetitive rhythms, & sustained harmonies with a rock sensibility. Cruel Sister was commissioned by the Munich Chamber Orchestra and received its US premiere at the Spoleto Festival in 2009. The piece recounts a grisly tale of sibling rivalry, inspired by a haunting English ballad. "I was fascinated and horrified by the overwhelming greed and jealousy of the tale," says Julia. "My 'Cruel Sister' is a search to unravel this human dilemma." Fuel is a collaboration with filmmaker Bill Morrison examining the impact of globalization. Commissioned by Ensemble Resonanz, a Hamburg-based group of 18 musicians, Fuel was premiered in 2007 as a multi-media performance.

Strings Magazine
...death and the ocean have a lot to do with the inspiration behind the title track on this disc of furious string music that goads and taunts and pushes and pulls the listener out of whatever comfort zone he may have left as sanctuary.

Haunting and disturbing, yes, but decidedly captivating. In the hands of the Hamburg-based Ensemble Resonanz...this richly textured 30-minute piece is taken to the edge of madness and carried on a sonic wave of seemingly endless glissandi, plucky pizzicato, and machine-gun repetitions.

It's exhilarating.

American Record Guide
It's paired with Fuel (2007), a breathless 21-minute etude for string orchestra from a collaboration with filmmaker Bill Morrison on mechanical motion (I haven't seen the film yet). The ensemble asked Ms Wolfe to write them "something rip roaring and virtuosic, push[ing] the group to the limit". And that she did. This angular moto perpetuo is probably now the ultimate challenge for the string orchestra medium, and this phenomenal German group is more than up to the task. This is all together a very impressive program...

Sequenza21.com
Wolfe's music is also doing what she does best: frenetic power created through post-minimalist techniques that transcend mere repetition. The music materials are sharp, taut, basic, and the economy of material is expertly managed. Wolfe knows how to make a lot out of a little AND pull the listener along for the ride. Both works have programmatic elements but not knowing the program does not interfere with the listening experiences. These works sound fresh and contemporary and I'm confident that audiences in the future will continue to relate and connect with the ideas therein.

Notes & Reviews:

Recording information: Bremen.



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Works Details

>Wolfe, Julia : Cruel Sister, for string ensemble
  • Performer: Ensemble Resonanz
  • Conductor: Bradley Lubman
  • Ensemble: Ensemble Resonanz
  • Running Time: 29 min. 58 sec.
  • Period Time: Contemporary
  • Written: 2004

>Wolfe, Julia : Fuel, for string ensemble
  • Performer: Ensemble Resonanz
  • Conductor: Bradley Lubman
  • Ensemble: Ensemble Resonanz
  • Running Time: 20 min. 28 sec.
  • Period Time: Contemporary
  • Written: 2009