Friday, October 17, 2014

I Wish I Were Stephen Drury

In the days since I first listened to that Youtube of the astonishingly good pianist and all-round musician, Stephen Drury,  playing  Ives Second Sonata posted here the other day, I've been exploring more Youtubes on his Callithumpian Consort channel, all of it great very little of it music by composers I was familiar with or had heard of.   One of the biggest and most wonderful surprises were the pieces by Rand Steiger conducted by Stephen Drury (he's a really fine AND CLEAR conductor).   One of those is especially moving and troubling while being incredibly beautiful,  A Meancing Plume for a small chamber orchestra and electronics.  I would advise not listening with earphones because the resonance of the piece is rather incredible even on a compressed sound file.  Reading more about Rand Steiger, whose music I'd never heard before, I found these liner notes for a disc with that piece and the other Steiger piece Stephen Drury conducted, Resonateur.   The menacing plume is that which spewed forth from the Deepwater Horizon disaster that BP and lax regulation of the oil industry produced, endangering if not destroying an enormous and important ecosystem.  By the time the electronics take over for a long and chilling wail, relieved after what seems like like hours by the strings, the piece was one of the most compelling ones composed in a long time.

I will be posting other recordings from that channel in the coming week. some old music by composers I'd heard of but wasn't really familiar with, some by composers I'd never heard of before.

It used to be something I'd say that if I could choose someone else to be I might like to be Gunther Schuller, the distinguished composer, conductor, player, educator, scholar, authority on many topics in both modern classical music and jazz.   He was in the generation before me.  If I had to do it today, I sure wish I could be as good a musician as Stephen Drury or, at least, be good enough to be in his group. I haven't been this excited about music in a long time and I tend to get kind of excited about music.

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