On December 16, I announced my plan to listen and briefly record my responses to the music of the composers who follow me on Twitter. This post is the twenty-first installment of what I call, “Mapping My Musical Twitterverse”, and features composers Eric Malmquist, Daniel Felsenfeld, Nina C. Young, Julia Mihály, and James Joslin.
Eric Malmquist is a composer based in Chicago. From Eric’s website, I listened to an excerpt of Variations, for wind quintet, Everyone in Civilization Knew Each Other, for orchestra, and Mass of Eternal Love, for choir and organ.
Eric divides his output into concert and sacred music, and these works testify to his facility in both arenas. The Mass, a sacred composition, sounds fresh and lovely while seemingly remaining approachable to non-professional choirs. Variations and Everyone in Civilization are, understandably, more daring and both prominently feature rhythmic material that eventually gives way to dominating melodic ideas.
Daniel Felsenfeld is a composer based in New York, NY. From Daniel’s SoundCloud page, I listened to “VIII” from the oratorio Revolutions of Ruin and the song cycle Every Composer is a Murderer, for flute, cello, harpsichord and soprano.
Both works are very earnest and feature gripping vocal parts. Given the scale of Revolutions of Ruin, its vocal writing is appropriately dramatic; a characteristic that energizes the work’s somewhat austere tone. Every Composer is more intimate and stuns in its reserve. The lamenting final movement, in particular, chills with a serene soprano line that floats above a continuo-like accompaniment.
Nina C. Young:
Nina C. Young is a composer based in New York, NY. Nina and I both attended the 2008 EAMA Composition Program. From Nina’s website, I listened to Traced Upon Cinders, for 13 musicians, an excerpt of Remnants, for orchestra, and Memento Mori, for string quartet.
These pieces are ornate, delicate, and feature what seem to be very specifically conceived textures and moments that, particularly in the case of Traced Upon Cinders, flow from one to another with relative freedom. Remnants and Memento Mori possess larger sections, which compel and absorb the listener with their precision and taught subtlety.
Julia Mihály is a vocalist and composer based in Frankfurt am Main, Germany. From Julia’s SoundCloud page, I listened to Lokalklang FFM, for fixed media, FarbTon, for voice and live electronics, and scape_3, for fixed media.
These pieces show Julia’s virtuosity both as a vocalist and a sonic sculptor. This selection showcases an impressive variety of tone and musical character, from the ebullient caprice of Lokalklang FFM to the slow, methodical transition from natural to synthetic sound in scape_3. FarbTon, in some ways, is more compelling thanks to the patient manner by which it reveals Julia’s lyrical singing voice.
James Joslin is a composer and sound artist based in London. From James’ website, I listened to Deus Ex Machina, for electrified piano, Hatta, for two toy pianos, amplified chess board, and tea set, and Constructions in Iron and Rust, for fixed media.
James’ imagination is on full display in this daring and experimental works. Deus Ex Machina features an extremely bold piano preparation: running electrical currents through the instrument’s strings. When amplified, this current completes a circuit with the outboard speaker and produces a hum sympathetic to the played notes’ vibration. This cloud-like sound is captivating and haunting.