JOHN LUTHER ADAMS (b.1953): 5 Athabascan Dances, 5 Yup’ik Dances, LOU HARRISON (1917-2003): Harps Suites Nos. 1 and 2, Lyric Phrases, In Honor of the Divine Mr. Handel.
Catalogue Number: 11R079
Label: Microfest Records
Reference: MF 7
Description: This recital is based on the two composers' shared fascination with just, diatonic tunings - i.e. tunings in pure intervals that only work in specific keys or modes, and in folk music of the western US and the Pacific. Harrison's pieces are attractive; the two harp suites consisting of assemblages of original compositions of various composition date, origin, mode, tuning (in general the second Suite is more far-ranging in the tunings rediscovered from antiquity or other cultures than the other pieces), and style, of beguilingly simple clarity based on folksong and traditional musics from the far side of the Pacific, some with gamelan associations, some accompanied by percussion ostinati. Harrison tended to leave some performance details - what particular instrument, tuning or accompaniment - up to the performer; Lyric Phrases takes this a step further, as the written material is a 'kit' of melodic phrases which can be repeated and combined at the performers' discretion. Adams adapted native Alaskan music - intrinsically diatonic and with limited or no harmony - into authentic-sounding folk transcriptions with appropriate accompaniments. Just Strings, HMC American Gamelan.