Second Inversion hosts share a favorite selection from this Friday’s playlist. Tune in during the indicated hours below on Friday, June 3 to hear these pieces. In the meantime, you’ll hear other great new and unusual music from all corners of the classical genre 24/7!
Tyondai Braxton: Casino Trem; Bang on a Can All-Stars (Cantaloupe Music)
The composer Tyondai Braxton has been busy with some interesting projects. We hear of a lot improvised electronic music performances in Brooklyn, and a 2013 installation piece at the Guggenheim Museum that featured a quintet of musicians sitting cross-legged on sci-fi ovular pods – some interesting stuff. His Casino Trem from Bang on a Can All-Stars’ Field Recordings is a rich tapestry of every electronic color of the rainbow, and makes me feel like I’m in the middle of an installation just listening to it. – Geoffrey Larson
Tune in to Second Inversion in the 11am hour today to hear this piece.
Stephen Sondheim: Johanna in Space (arr. Duncan Sheik); Anthony de Mare, piano (ECM Records)
This arrangement is born from Sondheim’s epic horror musical Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street. In the musical, a handsome sailor spies a young woman (Johanna) at her window and in song he declares his love, learns her name, and promises to come back for her. Later, Sweeney Todd (Johanna’s father) sings his own version of “Johanna” as he imagines what she’s like as a grown woman. In Sheik’s arrangement the two versions combine and take on an unearthly vibe created by the layering of dozens of guitar improvisations via a tape echo. It’s within this echo that Anthony de Mare’s delicate and sleek piano deftly drifts. – Rachele Hales
Tune in to Second Inversion in the 1pm hour today to hear this piece.
Nick Brooke: Chokoloskee (Innova)
I absolutely love it when music conjures specific images. Nick Brooke’s Chokoloskee is one such piece. Written as a an alternate-reality “tableaux” on the town of Chokoloskee, Florida as part of the album Border Towns, the composer describes this work as “surreal Americana.” For me, this music is the sound of the memory of a legendary summertime party; not the objective sounds of the party in real-time, but what my recollection of the party sounds like, as experienced as an aural memory.
This piece incorporates radio samples, historical and field recordings, as well as “live” performance into a lively and pleasantly strange mashup. Aside from being riotously fun, this piece accomplishes the composer’s goal of “blurring the line between recording and live performance.”
All in all, Chokoloskee is a refreshing listen. I suggest using it to assist the planning of your next outdoor party. – Seth Tompkins
Tune in to Second Inversion in the 5pm hour today to hear this piece.
John Cage: Dream; Bruce Brubaker, piano (Arabesque Recordings)
When you hear the name John Cage, you probably think of prepared pianos or philosophical musings, complete and utter sonic chaos, or maybe just 4’33” of silence. But Cage was actually a very thoughtful, introspective composer and thinker—and in few works is that made clearer than in his solo (unprepared) piano piece “Dream.”
Composed on a single treble clef staff (which is extremely unusual for piano), “Dream” features hardly any left-hand accompaniment at all. Instead, the utterly translucent melodic line drifts slowly and freely from one sustained note to the next, with pedal blurring all of it into a beautifully simple and ethereal dreamscape.
The piece was originally written as a piano accompaniment for a dance by choreographer Merce Cunningham, Cage’s life partner and frequent collaborator. Like so many of their cherished collaborations, “Dream” has since become a quiet, hidden Cagean gem—a soft and gentle reminder to immerse ourselves in the sounds around us, both in waking and in dreaming life. – Maggie Molloy
Tune in to Second Inversion in the 6pm hour today to hear this piece.