Holografski svemir za violinu i orkestar.
Born in Wisconsin and a resident of Germany since 1969, Gloria Coates has been composing for over fifty years. Her work is complex, filled with canons, palindromes, polyrhythms, dissonances, glissandi and is distinguished by a wide expressive and emotional range. Her first CD on Tzadik presents a varied program of music for solo piano, a string quartet, her exciting violin concerto, a piece for bass and piano and a fabulous piece for two tuning guitars. An historic release by one of the world’s most courageous and original musical pioneers!
It is simply perplexing that the name Gloria Coates is not a household one, even in new-music circles. The craftsmanship is concert hall–ready and scores written as far back as the 1960s and '70s continue to sound progressive in 2013. That the first three tracks of this album were performed by a group of college students speaks to both the abilities of the musicians as well as the potency of the writing. For Holographic Universe (1975), the Cambridge University Orchestra and violin soloist Peter Sheppard Skaerved hurl up and down Coates’s glissandi (a signature of her music), pulling the perspective of the listener in and out simultaneously in a kind of aural vertigo. On “Among the Asteroids” The Kreutzer Quartet catapults beyond the earth’s atmosphere and in amongst the uninviting projectiles of space. Ferociously scrubbed strings create palpable heat as plucked slides and high-altitude harmonics leave the listener spinning in zero gravity. This is escapism at its best, and one can only hope that the release of this composer portrait album on John Zorn’s Tzadik label will get Coates’s gripping sounds in a host of new ears. - Doyle Armbrust www.timeoutchicago.com/
Cambridge Theatre Orchestra conducted by Neil Thompson; Peter Sheppard Skærved: violin; Alessandro Taverna: piano; Kreutzer String Quartet; Ruth Fischer, Stephen Stiens: guitar; Christine Hoock: double bass.
It is refreshing to see that Gloria Coates prefers not to over-detail her compositions via verbose notes and hyper-analytical technicalities. This writer genuinely despises that attitude when tackling contemporary works, for unreasonable anal-retentiveness in that sense usually distracts from the constitutional audible materials, when not hiding out-and-out creative deficiencies. Alternatively, she talks of “subconscious and conscious mind” when referring to the interaction between a violin and the orchestra in the dramatic “Holographic Universe”, or defines “The Silver-Eyed Soul” as a “counterpoint of both tones and colors” as double bass and piano “circle each other”. In this attempt to deliver the music from a composer’s narcissistic heaviness, Coates recalls Roland Kayn’s penchant for abstract delineations in his equally emancipated cybernetic conceptions. The comparability is all the more valid when the breathtaking see-sawing glissando that are emblematic of the American’s scores appear, nailing our transfixed mental stare to the currents of the psyche still leading to something that counts in this world of careless nonentities.
However, this compendium of opuses dating from 1962 (“Among The Asteroids”) to 2008 (the above mentioned and utterly impressive “The Silver-Eyed Soul”) is not just about parabolic strings and harmonic uncertainty. “Where The Eagle Flies”, for solo piano, is replete with “classically minimalist” gradations and, oddly enough, slightly pervaded by a modicum of romantic yearning. “IV: Lunar Loops” (dating from 1978 and not 1986, as erroneously written on the CD’s inner leaflet) is scored for two guitars that, besides gradually shifting single pitches through manual detuning during the performance, increase the levels of sonic innervation while adding percussive forcefulness. If you are acquainted with Lois V. Vierk’s “Go Guitars” – a younger relative with akin sonorities – you’ll see what I mean.
Hearing how the instruments physically react to the masterful touches by all the involved players throughout these 67 minutes is pure delight. One perceives the woods and the rosin, the rubbing noises on the fingerboards, scents of concentration and uncontaminated passion blending inside peculiar structures. At Midnight needs numerous attentive listens to reveal its bewitching power, reaching peaks of immensity with the arrhythmic simplicity of a series of baby steps across the uncommonness of orchestral modernism. - Massimo Ricci
During the early 1960s Gloria Coates discovered the glissando. No big deal there, you might think. Xenakis had already determined that string glissandos could open up musical space in radical and unlikely ways. But Coates pushed further, revamping the whole basis of Western harmony using glissandos, writing music that was essentially tonal – well, it certainly wasn’t atonal – but with the foundations of tonality suddenly rattling and sliding around like loose teeth.
In any just world, Coates and the glissando would have been as big a story as Philip Glass and the arpeggio, but her stock didn’t rise until 10 years ago, when the Kreutzer Quartet started recording her string quartets for Naxos. And the Kreutzers return for this mixed disc
of Coates orchestral and chamber works performing an early work, Among the Asteroids, from 1962, where Coates’s techniques are already fully formed. Asteroids are alien and untouchable. From a human perspective, dancing among the asteroids would be a beautiful but utterly terrifying experience, a truth Coates’s score acknowledges. Glissandos spacewalk, defining the galaxy in which this piece will exist; then our vantage point becomes more intimate and humane as Coates takes us deep inside the intelligent design of her structures, breaking the continuum with canon‑like asides and melodic flourishes.
The other major work here, Holographic Universe (1975) for violin and orchestra, has a moderately more expressively conventional language. Glissandos can be metaphysical but Coates has also talked about them as an allegory for tears. This piece is deeply felt and passionate without being obviously emotive – a mammoth achievement. Neil Thomson chisels a huge, aromatic, plush sound out of his student string orchestra. - Philip Clark www.gramophone.co.uk/