David Lipten: Best Served Cold[CD]
~ Ciompi Quartet
David Lipten's music has been described as possessing 'a strength and integrity...along with a deep [and]...rigorous musical lyricism.' His compositions have been performed by some of the most accomplished chamber ensembles, including the New York New Music Ensemble and the Chester Quartet, among others. Recent performances of his music have included a number of his piano works Best Served Cold, Snap and Ever Since, three of Time's Dream for chorus, as well as one of Ictus for string quartet at the Portland Chamber Music Festival where it was awarded first prize in 3rd Annual Composers Competition. David has received a number of commissions including those from the Fromm Music Foundation at Harvard University, the Verdehr Trio/Michigan State University and Duo46; awards, fellowships and grants from the St. Paul's Chamber Music Competition, ASCAP, the International Society for Contemporary Music (ISCM), the State of Florida and Duke University, also among others. He has also been in residence at the MacDowell and Yaddo colonies, as well as the Aspen Music Festival, the Oregon Bach Festival, the CSU Summer Arts Festival and the June in Buffalo Composers Conference. David holds a B.A. in Piano Performance from Hampshire College, a M.A. in Music Composition from the Aaron Copland School of Music at the City University of New York/Queens College and a Ph.D. in Music Composition from Duke University. He currently lives and works in Florida with his wife, Holly, and daughter, Olivia. Ictus (2000-2001)-for string quartet The sense and form of Ictus depend on the ways previously established material is altered, either through changes of speed and/or the ways in which the music is accented (similar to the ways in which different syllables are stressed in poetry-or it's Ictus) and how it's colored by using a wide variety of bowings and/or articulations. The Fromm Music Foundation at Harvard University commissioned the quartet in 1999-2000. It was premiered in September of 2001 by the Chester Quartet and performed by them on two other occasions. The Perugino Quartet also played the piece in 2005. Sunghae Anna Lim and Joan Kwoun (vlns.), Maria Lambros (vla.) and Andrew Mark (vc.) performed Ictus in Maine at the Portland Chamber Music Festival. Show of Hands-for piano 1. Best Served Cold (2003) I wrote Best Served Cold while in residence at the MacDowell Colony in Peterborough, NH in 2003. It was the dead of winter and magnificently serene for much of the time. Nothing about the character of this short, sometimes violent piece, then, can be attributed to my surroundings. My time at the colony also happened to coincide with the build-up to the mess in Iraq. I spent some of my downtime listening to the fabrications presented to the United Nations by a certain former Secretary of State for what turned out to be some of the pretense for the situation. We all knew what was coming. I was outraged. The title is borrowed from 'Les Liasons Dangereuses' (1782) by Pierre Ambroise Francois Choderios de LaClos. However, my original acquaintance with it came from either Mr. Worf, a Klingon character in Star Trek, or from Montgomery Burns, Homer Simpson's evil boss; I'm not sure which. This piece was commissioned by Christopher Adler and premiered by him in October 2003. 2. Ever Since (2004) Ever Since is the second work in a series of short character pieces I began writing for piano in the winter of 2003. The first (Best Served Cold) is quite fiery, so I wanted to write something more introspective as a contrast. It's impromptu nature is attributable to improvising much of the initial ideas for it at the piano. 3. Snap (2005) The title refers to the rather break-neck pace at which the music is intended to proceed. The tempo marking calls for it to be played at a speed which is 'as fast as humanly possible.' The piece primarily features quick, repeated single notes connected by short, jagged bursts or runs leading to passages of climactic chords. These solo piano pieces started life as separate works to fulfill three different commissions. I realized that they would work well together as one piece following a fairly conventional 3-part format (fast-slow-fast). So the three works became one (though the individual 'movements' have retained their original titles and may still be performed individually). The music (especially in mvts. 1 and 3) owes much to the compositions of György Ligeti and David Rakowski, both of whom have written prodigious volumes of piano etudes. Whorl (2002)-for Bb clarinet, violin and piano When I began to write Whorl (originally commissioned by the Verdehr Trio and Michigan State University) I had recently finished working on my string quartet, Ictus. One of the most inviting sounds a quartet makes comes from the ability of all four instruments to sound like one. I had a hard time getting that sound world out of my ears. The heterogeneous sound made by a group consisting of a clarinet, violin and piano, then, posed a number of interesting challenges. One of my solutions was to use a technique called 'hocket,' whereby one musical line or thought is broken up and shared among the different instruments. In Whorl, a line of music is often begun by one of the instruments, perhaps accompanied by another, and is then taken over and completed by the third. It is like a family discussion in which each member is talking at once with the participants finishing each others sentences. Time's Dream (2003)-for chorus, texts by E.E. Cummings Time's Dream is a group of six songs with settings of poetry by E.E. Cummings. The University of San Diego Choral Scholars premiered them in December of 2003. The title is taken from Cummings' poem 'Now Air Is Air And Thing Is Thing; No Bliss.' The texts were chosen largely because of the way Cummings plays with the idea of time in all of his writings, whether through interjecting thoughts in parentheses or by breaking up words/lines and interspersing these with other thoughts or sentiments before returning to the original trains of thought. Cummings' style, then, bears a striking similarity to music where comprehensibility depends on the unfolding of ideas/sounds in time, whether these are to be interpreted linearly or not. Gyre (1996-97)-for flute (alto flute, piccolo), Bb clarinet (bass clarinet), violin, cello, piano and percussion The music in Gyre is characterized by whirling contrast. I combine the instruments in as many ways as possible while trying to highlight their individual characteristics. I also exploit cooperation among various instrumental combinations depending upon the changes in the musical situation. The construction of the piece loosely resembles Ritornello form with a number of periodic returns to thematic material separated by contrasting episodes. This compositional game plan was used in the earliest forms of the Concerto and was suggested to me by Jacob Druckman's Come Round. By treating this form as an abstract model and by allowing myself to take liberties with it, I am able to create a higher degree of formal contrast than would otherwise be possible. By referring both to this historically established model and to a genre like the Concerto, I hope to forge a connection with a listener's experiences and expectations. The new title (originally Stunt Double) came to me by way of an old friend, Karen Gold (via Facebook!), and is borrowed from a William Butler Yeats poem, The Second Coming, which states, in part: Turning and turning in the widening gyre The falcon cannot hear the falconer; Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold; Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world, The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere The ceremony of innocence is drowned; ... Gyre was recorded in 1998 at California State University, Long Beach and is courtesy of CSU Summer Arts.
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