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George Rochberg: Music for the Magic Theater

Composer(s): George Rochberg
Album Title: George Rochberg: Music for the Magic Theater 
Cat. No.: 80462
Genre: Classical
 
Description: Music for the Magic Theater
Octet; A Grand Fantasia


New York Chamber Ensemble, Stephen Rogers Radcliffe, conductor

“I understood it all.  I understood Mozart, and somewhere behind me I heard his ghastly laughter.” George Rochberg (b. 1918) cites this passage from Hermann Hesse’s Steppenwolf as a backdrop for his Music for the Magic Theater, for fifteen players. The central theme in the book—a magic theater meshes reality and fantasy, past and future, in search of new apertures to a living present—inspired Rochberg to embrace “a kind of sound-collage in which the past and present are quite literally juxtaposed.”

Rochberg summons a wide variety of composers, including Mozart, Beethoven, Mahler, Webern, Varèse, Stockhausen, Miles Davis, and of course Rochberg himself. Despite sharp contrasts and what some may take for a complete absence of logic, Rochberg combines his materials in such a manner as to suggest their inevitable association in a dreamscape that is paradoxically anchored and realistic.

In his Octet; A Grand Fantasia, Rochberg adopts the traditional ensemble of mixed strings and wind octet, dating from the time of Schubert, and designates the work a “Grand Fantasia” to emphasize formal freedom and transformation of melodic content. 
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