GEORGE CRUMB (b.1929): The River of Life for Voice, Percussion Quartet and Amplified Piano (American Songbook I), Unto the Hills for Voice, Percussion Quartet and Amplified Piano (American Songbook III).
Catalogue Number: 04I078
Description: In setting the familiar melodies of traditional American folksongs, Crumb underlines the sheer wealth of originality of his unique musical voice even more than in the equally innovative, more abstract works with which all his admirers are acquainted. The songs are basically presented in straightforward fashion, here and there declaimed or elaborated in popular, Broadway and folky styles, but not fundamentally altered in melodic or rhythmic structure; the tune remains the tune throughout. However, as one might expect, Crumb's prodigious imagination in the matter of sonority is given free rein to produce settings that make of these songs atmospheric tone-poems of the utmost poignancy and dramatic flair. By employing overlapping waves of sonority in the typically adventurously assembled percussion ensembles, the trademark bending of pitches and innovative playing techniques - so fluid and plastic one thinks of an artist blending pigment; the actual mechanism producing the sound becomes irrelevant to the listener - the songs are presented in contexts suggesting sounds of nature, the passing of the seasons, light, shadow and memory. A remarkable achievement. Texts included. 2 CDs for the price of 1. Ann Crumb (soprano), Orchestra 2001; James Freeman.