Eric Chasalow: Left to His Own Devices

Composer(s): Eric Chasalow
Album Title: Eric Chasalow: Left to His Own Devices 
Cat. No.: 80601
Genre: Classical
Description: Left to His Own Devices

Guido Arbonelli, bass clarinet; Keith Benjamin, trumpet; Auros Group for New Music; Phantom Arts; Boston Modern Orchestra Project; Gil Rose, conductor

The seven electro-acoustic works on this disc illustrate the salient virtues that have distinguished
Eric Chasalow's work in the genre over the past twenty years-an unerring sense of drama and a rhythmic verve that makes for compelling listening. Two in particular, Left to His Own Devices and Suspicious Motives, pay homage to his Columbia-Princeton mentors; the former is built from vocal samples of Milton Babbitt and the sound of the RCA synthesizer while the latter incorporates two motives from Davidovsky's music-primarily the opening to Synchronisms #6.

That the composer is equally at home outside the studio is amply borne out by the two purely acoustic chamber pieces, In the Works and Yes, I Really Did, clearly cut from the same aesthetic cloth as the tape pieces. As Chasalow has said, "In spite of my long history with electronic music, the technology is not my focus." This is clearly evident from the works on this disc, crafted in a musical language as subtle and complex as it is tactile and expressive. This, his second disc on New World, charts the continuing growth and development of an exciting young American composer.

"Over the years, the technology available to me has changed dramatically, from the hand-made cutting and splicing of the analog studio, to MIDI automation and, currently, graphical computer-based sound editing environments. While the newer tools have made the process of realizing electronic music much easier, my fundamental musical approach to these pieces has not changed much. At the core is the tradition created by the work of Mario Davidovsky. In this tradition, one uses prerecorded sounds to expand upon the acoustical characteristics of the live instruments-the real origin of the "hyperinstrument" concept.  What may be obvious is that the timbre of a traditional instrument in performance may be changed by adding electronic components-a kind of heightened orchestration…

"While my studio technique derives from Davidovsky, the musical character is quite different. My instrumental writing is often at an energy level drawn from my experience with improvised jazz. My recent electronic music reflects this as well. By adding layers of manipulated recordings of spoken or sung text, the sound of the human voice often emerges in surprising ways."  
-Eric Chasalow 
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