Eric Chasalow: Over The Edge
Liner Notes   Cat. No. 80440     Release Date: 1993-01-01

Speculum Musicae String Quartet; Fred Sherry, cello; Patricia Spencer, flute; Christine Schadeberg, soprano; Bruno Schneider; horn; Amy Knoles, Arthur Jarvinen, percussion

Eric Chasalow (b 1955), who grew to aesthetic maturity as Postmodernism was evolving, points (not at all surprisingly) to jazz as part of the family tree. In 1983, Chasalow created a set of three works for soloist and electronic sounds. The composer fashioned each, for cello, for soprano, and for flute, with particular accomplished performers in mind, taking his inspiration, he says, "from their personal styles and energy."

Chasalow composed Hanging in the Balance (1983) for the redoubtable cellist Fred Sherry. He envisions it as establishing twin relationships between cellist and tape: "At times a dialogue between two distinct parts ... at others, a single coherent instrument [formed] by the collision of live with electronic sounds. The effect of the latter relationship is to expand the timbral possibilities of the cello by sculpting complex sonic ‘events.'

The Furies (1984), a group of four songs for soprano and electronic sounds, takes its texts from among Anne Sexton's fifteen "Fury" poems from The Death Notebooks of 1974. The composer chose the poetry for its "intensely personal expression and highly charged emotional atmosphere," qualities heightened by the music's taped aspects, which "not only [serve] as accompaniment but actually [meld] with the voice, at times creating a single hybrid instrument."

The Fury of Rainstorms (1992), a companion to The Furies, differs in that it exists entirely on tape. The composer speaks of Sexton's lines in terms of their "compelling musical rhythm … I liked the idea of using Christine's voice as the source material—a kind of explosion of The Furies into another realm."

For Chasalow, a work's electronic aspect properly deals in possibilities. He points out that he creates tapes to "blend with the sound of the live instruments and modulate them in surprising ways," aiming as well to create music its performers will find "virtuosic and exciting." As with the other works in this electrified group, Over the Edge (1986), achieves this goal and provides moreover, as the title suggests, an a priori state of recklessness for the soloist.

In Fast Forward (1988), for percussionists and tape, "More than in any other of my pieces, the instruments and tape blend to create an `impossible' ensemble." One perceives a totality whose taped parts participate as equals in a legerdemain of jagged, irregular shards of rhythm and sonorities, and at a remove, as it were a Greek-chorus commentary.

 Winding Up (for solo horn) and the First String Quartet, both composed in 1990, are the program's two acoustic works. In the latter, Chasalow’s goal was "to reconcile the different musics that I love, especially jazz, with Western art-music tradition without self-consciously lifting cliches."

Chasalow'’s brilliance marks him as a composer to watch and makes much of this disc a joy. The performances are all of a high order.” — -Fanfare

Various Artists

Eric Chasalow: Over The Edge

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Track Listing

Winding Up
Eric Chasalow
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Fast Forward
Eric Chasalow
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Over The Edge
Eric Chasalow
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The Fury of Rainstorms
Eric Chasalow
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Hanging in The Balance
Eric Chasalow
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The Furies: The Fury of Beautiful Bones
Eric Chasalow
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The Furies: The Fury of Guitars and Sopranos
Eric Chasalow
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The Furies: The Fury of Cooks
Eric Chasalow
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The Furies: The Fury of Hating Eyes
Eric Chasalow
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First Quartet: Movement 1
Eric Chasalow
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First Quartet: Movement 2
Eric Chasalow
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First Quartet: Movement 3
Eric Chasalow
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First Quartet: Movement 4
Eric Chasalow
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