The Rothman Ensemble: Thomas Buckner, baritone; David Smeyers, clarinet; Wadada Leo Smith, trumpet; Ted Mook, cello; and Kent Clelland, electronic processing
Cezanne's Doubt is a chamber opera for solo voice, clarinet, trumpet, cello, and audio & video processing. The subject of the opera is the perennial problem that faces all artists－the problem of interpreting reality. This crucial question obsessed Cezanne in particular throughout his life and drove him to such despair that he continued to describe his works as studies even at the end of his life. The opera takes place in Cezanne's mind－an inner monologue in which the text of Baudelaire's poem "Une Charogne" (Carrion) is interspersed with excerpts from his letters to his son, Paul, and excerpts from his correspondence with his friend Emile Zola.
Daniel Rothman (b 1958) teaches composition at the California Institute for the Arts. His interest in acoustic phenomena, extended instrumental techniques, world-music performance practices, and electronic signal processing are evinced in the language of Cezanne's Doubt－a microtonal palette of tuned multiphonics, upper spectra harmonics and subtle signal processing. The music unfolds in a floating, almost dream-like rhythmic stasis, privileging the exploration of the sound properties of the various instruments, individually and in combination, in the manner of late Luigi Nono, to cite a primary influence. It is performed with the utmost sensitivity by an elite ensemble.