Janáček Philharmonic Orchestra, Christian Arming, Petr Kotik, and Zsolt Nagy, conductors; Charles Curtis, cello solo, with members of the San Diego Symphony
For nearly fifty years the work of Alvin Lucier (b. 1931) has marked off a space unlike any other in American music. By now a hero to three generations of experimentalists, Lucier continues to make work at a brisk pace, finding new, surprising and radical approaches to the same artistic concerns. His subject is the human as listener, and his music can be understood as a detailed, exhaustive investigation into the complexities of the act of listening. The results are often uncanny, but the approach is through the familiar and the ordinary; and the production is invariably of rare composerly discipline and exactness of execution.
The three works presented on this album set forth three perspectives on the orchestra, monument of the European concert tradition. In each work we hear unmistakable echoes of the familiar iconography of the orchestra, associations with the past that are the bearers of complex meanings. Yet in a kind of tandem reality, sound itself pushes forward, bringing us back to the present, to our immediate presence as listeners, and to meanings independent of association. The world construed as what is known, as a set of received notions, is gently put in question; another world, the one we live in moment to moment, is briefly illuminated.