Possibly, my record of the year

Possibly, my record of the year


norman lebrecht

June 03, 2016

From the Lebrecht Album of the Week:

Every few months I take my ears out for a cleaning. This is not as easy as it sounds. Finding music that is original, unfamiliar, astringent, elevating and altogether uncomplacent restricts the seeker to the dustiest corners of recorded repertoire. And no sooner do you find a box that fits the bill than what you thought was household detergent comes stuffed with sticky minimalisms.

Anyway, this week, I’ve struck lucky with some top-grade industrial ear cleanser…

Read on here. And here. Or here.

(You really should get to know these fabulous sites.)



  • Alex says:

    “This is the generic opposite of a Christmas album, one you’d never give to a spinster aunt.”

    All this nonsense all the time about ‘women conductors’ and ‘not enough women in the orchestra’, and then you turn off your manufactured outrage and use a phrase like that.

  • David Osborne says:

    Definitely Feldman, but that is Cage surely not Crumb.

    • norman lebrecht says:

      It is Cage, who is mentioned in the piece. I have never seen a pic of Feldman and Crumb together. Maybe they never met.

      • David Osborne says:

        Sounds good, and dare I say the perfect Christmas album for release in June…

      • Adam Stern says:

        I did a little random Googling, and found the transcript of an interview Feldman gave regarding Stefan Wolpe and other composers. One fragment:

        >> I’ll tell you what happened to Satie and the whole idea that independents couldn’t survive in Europe, just couldn’t survive the way they survive here. That some of our strongest people today are independents, where do you put them? Like George Crumb. He was a big influence, and yet he is an independent really. George Crumb couldn’t happen in Europe, essentially. With all the European cliques it couldn’t happen.

        Hard to tell definitively whether Feldman knew Crumb personally, but he certainly knew OF him!

  • Hugh Mather says:

    Crumb’s ‘A little suite for Christmas’ should be a video not a CD. The Giotto frescoes are part of the overall experience, and there is the added interest of seeing the pianist fiddling around in the guts of the piano ! Have a look at a masterly performance from Andrew Brownell at St Mary’s Perivale https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RHKaCP1Ouu8 . Hope this link works… Best wishes

    Hugh Mather

  • Eric Bruskin says:

    “Crumb (born 1929) is a fusion composer of animal sounds and extreme electronica.”

    What a ridiculous characterization. This is like saying Tchaikovsky is a fusion composer of cannon shots and pizzicato.

    It’s hard to imagine what the writer had in mind here. Crumb has never written anything remotely under the banner of “electronic music”, let alone “electronica” which is what modern dance music is sometimes called. Sometimes Crumb amplifies his instruments. That’s all.

    As for “animal sounds”, out of an oeuvre of dozens of works, there is one called “Vox Balanae” written around 1970 in reaction to then-recently released recordings of whale cries, something that touched billions around the world and a valid subject for a composer. And the first movement of Crumb’s very well-known string quartet “Black Angels” (for amplified instruments) is indeed called “Night of the Electric Insects”.

    This doesn’t make Crumb a “fusion composer of animal sounds and extreme electronica”. It does show up the writer of this review, positive as it is, as someone who makes silly newspaper copy out of his ignorance of a composer’s life work.

    Anyone averse to animals or amplification should seek out any of Crumb’s dozens of other works, notably his recent seven-part cycle of American Folk Song settings.