Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Landmarks (10)

William Brooks Madrigals (1977-78) four pieces for SATB quartet, amplified.

Brooks' Madrigals are virtuosic, demanding both impecable conventional musicianship and extended vocal techniques, but at the same time very much music written by a composer who loves to sing for singers; they are complex, deep, both intellectually (Brook's analytic skills -- of both words, tones, and their interplay in timbre -- are everywhere apparent) and culturally (his re-imaginings of Orlando Gibbon's Silver Swan and Stephen Foster's Nelly was a Lady are astonishing), but these pieces are also emotionally immediate, at turns touching, comic, and amazed.

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