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Awake / Modern works for chamber ensemble

Audio Samples

>Greenstein, Judd : Change, for ensemble
>Friar, Sean : Velvet Hammer, for ensemble
>Mazzoli, Missy : Magic with Everyday Objects, for ensemble
>Dancigers, Mark : Burst, for ensemble
>Crowell, David : Waiting in the Rain for Snow, for ensemble
>Burke, Patrick [Horn] : Awake, for ensemble

Album Summary

>Greenstein, Judd : Change, for ensemble
>Friar, Sean : Velvet Hammer, for ensemble
>Mazzoli, Missy : Magic with Everyday Objects, for ensemble
>Dancigers, Mark : Burst, for ensemble
>Crowell, David : Waiting in the Rain for Snow, for ensemble
>Burke, Patrick [Horn] : Awake, for ensemble
Ensemble Composers

Notes & Reviews:

"Striking a balance between the old and the new has rarely sounded this good." - Newsweek With a unique instrumentation of flute, clarinet, electric guitar, double bass and piano, NOW Ensemble brings a fresh sound and new perspective to the classical tradition. Ensemble's sophomore New Amsterdam release is a spirited follow-up to the group's eponymous debut. Released in 2008 to rave review around the country, NOW helped establish the group as the premiere indie classical chamber ensemble. Awake looks to expand the group's palette, featuring new works by ensemble members Judd Greenstein, Mark Dancigers, and Patrick Burke, and commissioned works by Missy Mazzoli, Sean Friar and David Crowell.

"It’s been a long time since a new piece grabbed my attention as immediately and held it as tightly as Judd Greenstein’s “Change.’’ This kaleidoscopic chamber work leads off “Awake,’’ a new CD by Now Ensemble, a crack new-music ensemble of which Greenstein is a cofounder... Some of its best moments involve Greenstein’s powerful, groove-based writing for piano and guitar; over a repeating chord pattern he spins melodies that have an almost improvisatory sense of freedom... It’s tough to shoehorn the music on “Awake’’ into traditional categories, but it doesn’t matter: Here is an album that offers a lot of engaging new music, as well as one piece I am sorely tempted to call a masterpiece.'' -The Boston Globe

"Banish any suspicion that this might be a project whose ambition lies in the deadening doldrums of ‘crossover’... There’s an obvious challenge in the music’s mix of old, new and the exotic, and one that is rewarded by repeated listening as its interweaving of superficially contrary elements coalesce into something fresh and vibrant. The same could be said of the NOW Ensemble’s intelligently questing approach to programming, and to the articulate and committed performances of all involved." -TheClassicalReview.com

All Music Guide - Stephen Eddins
NOW is one of the many composer-driven chamber ensembles flourishing in New York that can trace its aesthetic back through Bang On A Can to Dutch minimalist Louis Andriessen, and ultimately, to American minimalists like Steve Reich. The combination of instruments from both classical and pop worlds (flute, clarinets, bass, electric guitar, and piano) and the uninhibited cross-pollination of classical and pop traditions give the music an appealing, freewheeling vitality.

The music of this recital by the NOW Ensemble is notable for its sunny geniality. It's not simple or facile music by any means -- it's full of rhythmic, contrapuntal, and textural intricacies that keep it constantly engaging -- but it conveys an infectious optimism that's worlds apart from both the angst-y complexity that long characterized contemporary classical composition and the nostalgic, reactionary return to old-fashioned tonality. Judd Greenstein's description of his piece, Change, could apply to the sound and impact of many of the works recorded here: "In times when people seem ready to entrust our broken systems with their hopes of making positive change, it's most important to step up and, as Gandhi said, 'Be the change you want to see in the world.' This piece represents my own reminder to myself to always keep that fire lit." Even the more dissonant and timbrally piercing tracks like Sean Friar's Velvet Hammer and Missy Mazzoli's Magic with Everyday Objects, which she describes as "a piece on the verge of a nervous breakdown," seem to be under girded essentially with that kind of positive energy. NOW's members play with exuberant enthusiasm and although much of the music has a propulsive, driving rhythmic momentum, the performances are shapely and nuanced, and often, just plain lovely. The sound is clear, lively, and well-blended, but there is a low-level hum audible in quiet sections, particularly in the spaces between the pieces. Highly recommended for fans of new directions in 21st century composition.

Notes & Reviews:

Recording information: Church of the Immaculate Conception, Montclair, New Jer (08/16/2010-08/19/2010).



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Works Details

>Greenstein, Judd : Change, for ensemble
  • Ensemble: NOW Ensemble
  • Notes: Church of the Immaculate Conception, Montclair, New Jersey (08/16/2010-08/19/2010)
  • Running Time: 13 min. 28 sec.

>Friar, Sean : Velvet Hammer, for ensemble
  • Ensemble: NOW Ensemble
  • Notes: Church of the Immaculate Conception, Montclair, New Jersey (08/16/2010-08/19/2010)
  • Running Time: 6 min. 15 sec.
  • Period Time: Contemporary

>Mazzoli, Missy : Magic with Everyday Objects, for ensemble
  • Ensemble: NOW Ensemble
  • Notes: Church of the Immaculate Conception, Montclair, New Jersey (08/16/2010-08/19/2010)
  • Running Time: 8 min. 18 sec.
  • Period Time: Contemporary

>Dancigers, Mark : Burst, for ensemble
  • Ensemble: NOW Ensemble
  • Notes: Church of the Immaculate Conception, Montclair, New Jersey (08/16/2010-08/19/2010)
  • Running Time: 5 min. 31 sec.
  • Period Time: Contemporary

>Crowell, David : Waiting in the Rain for Snow, for ensemble
  • Ensemble: NOW Ensemble
  • Notes: Church of the Immaculate Conception, Montclair, New Jersey (08/16/2010-08/19/2010)
  • Running Time: 8 min. 48 sec.

>Burke, Patrick [Horn] : Awake, for ensemble
  • Ensemble: NOW Ensemble
  • Notes: Church of the Immaculate Conception, Montclair, New Jersey (08/16/2010-08/19/2010)
  • Running Time: 9 min. 12 sec.