Works Too Beautiful for Radio

Speaking of music in which nothing happens, I got a superb new NAD amplifier yesterday, and today I gave it what may be one of the supreme stereo system tests: I played Eliane Radigue’s Adnos I. This tape work from the late ’70s by a reclusive French composer of almost mystical reputation (released a couple of years ago on Table of the Elements) is a gorgeous continuum of analogue electronic tones, changing in slow and subtle ways. The texture is extremely rich, with pulsing tones going in and out of tune in the bass and a layer of ringing overtones in the treble, with soft bell-like tones adding a less continuous event-structure. It really demands a lot of one’s stereo system. And because of that, it’s one of the works that I’d love to post to Postclassic Radio and probably never will, because I don’t think the piece’s subtleties would survive the reduction to mp3 and deficiencies of computer playback. There are several such composers that I don’t include, notably Phill Niblock – I don’t think the internet radio medium can yet do them justice. Gorgeous music, but it wouldn’t be represented well.

Meanwhile, there are some other additions I’m pleased with. One is the first disc of La Monte Young’s 1981 performance of The Well-Tuned Piano – if you’ve searched high and low for this recording without success, here’s part of it, and some day I may put up all five hours’ worth. Also a lovely multiple guitar work by a young New York composer I admire named Christian Rober, and a new Golden Research recording of Charlemagne Palestine’s Piano Drone from 1972, one of his most enchanting works. And my own Hovenweep, which was a commission from the St. Luke’s Orchestra chamber series, and an attempt to write a piece that Uptowners would understand, i.e., very expressive with lots of detailed dynamics.

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