Wes York

Composer(s): Wes York
Album Title: Wes York 
Cat. No.: 80439
Genre: Classical
Description: Sanford Sylvan, baritone; Marimolin

New World Records presents the debut recording of art songs and chamber pieces by the young and exciting New York-based composer Wes York. In a robustly maximalist age that gladly permits the fusion of unrelated styles and the flaunting of eclecticism, York’s music stands out as reductive, elliptical, elusive, implying diversity rather than spelling it out. Although drawn to dramatic contexts and texts from divergent multicultural sources, York searches out, in his music, the elemental connections between word and tone, and tone and structure, that go beyond style.

The first piece, Three Native Songs, featuring the internationally acclaimed baritone Sanford Sylvan, demonstrates what York calls balancing things that go places with things that don’t. These settings of song texts from the Teton Sioux makes no reference to Native American music, but rather approaches the poetry’s bizarre and psychedelic imagery from his own perspective.

The Reminiscences are a series of works that reach back to styles of previous musical eras, not to reproduce those styles, but to transform them. Reminiscence 2 does not recall a specific composer or style but, being vaguely neoclassical and utilizing a symmetrical octotonic scale, it is a general harkening back to the first half of our century as viewed through York’s sensibilities.

Songs From the Levertov Scores (featuring Marimolin) further demonstrates York’s intuitive approach to texts. The poetry, as seen on the page, is a notation of specific sonic effects. For example, line breaks and indentations represent different amounts of pause, thus, the visual layout of the poem influenced the composition of the song. York’s music is an example of the direction that new music is likely to take in the future. Now that composers are not as restricted by the constraints of the universities, new music will be able to breathe and York is one of the pioneers. 
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