Ezra Sims: Musing and Reminiscence

Composer(s): Ezra Sims
Album Title: Ezra Sims: Musing and Reminiscence 
Cat. No.: 80709
Genre: Classical / Contemporary
Release Date: 05/2010
Description: Eric Moe, piano; Ted Mook, cello; Christina Ascher, alto; Christoph von Erffa, cello; Boston Musica Viva: Alicia di Donato, flute, Ian Greitzer, clarinet; Krista Buckland Reisner, violin; Mary Ruth Ray, viola; Jan Müller Szeraws, cello; Richard Pittman, conductor; Amy Advocat, Michael Norsworthy, clarinets; Boston Modern Orchestra Project; Gil Rose, conductor

Ezra Sims has already contributed an outstanding body of works, many of which have explored with singular imagination, conviction and success the beautiful but elusive world of microtonal music.” — American Academy of Arts and Letters

Ezra Sims (b. 1928) is known mainly as a composer of microtonal music. Surrounded by world-class performers who champion his music, he has produced a large number of chamber and solo, choral, and two orchestral works. With his unwavering commitment to his unique vision he has made an enormous contribution to modern music. This retrospective spans his entire career, almost fifty years of compositional activity, and is an excellent introduction to his very distinctive sound world.

Sims’s lyricism and delicate touch are evident in his earliest works, Sonata and Sonatine, both serial and composed in 1957. Sims says that at the time he was drawn to atonality, twelve-tone techniques, and serialism because of his desire for a “level of saturated dissonance.” AEDM in mem (1988) has a deeply introspective quality, as solo pieces often do. If I Told Him (1996), based on a Gertrude Stein poem, is declamatory and almost percussive, like Stein’s own reading. Stein considered her poem to be a Cubist poem, an homage to Picasso’s Cubist paintings. The broken fragments of sentences, and their overlapping at odd angles, are an obvious correlation to Cubism, and the exhaustive repetition of these fragments is well suited to the types of ostinati in Sims’s music. Musing and Reminiscence (2003) has a sober and nostalgic quality. In a sense, it is a retrospective of a lifetime’s methods, mannerisms, and characteristic turns of phrase. The final work on the program, Concert Piece II (2005), is a double concerto with classic instrumentation, in ABA form, with clear motivic development, arching “antecedent” and “consequent” phrases, even tonality (albeit an idiosyncratic kind). However, within conventional parameters such as these Sims produces sonorities that subvert our expectations on a visceral level. 
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