Leslie Bassett: Echoes from an Invisible World
Liner Notes   Cat. No. NWCR677     Release Date: 2007-01-01
Radio Zurich Symphony Orchestra; Jonathan Sternberg, conductor; Baltimore Symphony Orchestra; Sergiu Comissiona, conductor; Concord String Quartet: (Andrew Jennings, violin; Mark Sokol, violin; John Kochanowski, viola; Norman Fischer, cello); Gilbert Kalish, piano; John Graham, viola

During the preparation of these remarks in 1994 for the present “American Masters” compact disc, I have come to realize that critics will probably refer to these three pieces as “of his middle period.” They were written between twenty and thirty years ago, after all, and I have written a lot of music since. Yet I am especially happy to have them together on a CD, for I consider them to be among my best, pieces that have met with wonderful responses and allowed the emergence of significant change and maturity in my musical language and message.

The latter two scores include unmetered music. To be able to move in and out of meter is a rich and important option, for which I needed to invent a ‘non-meter’ signature (a 0 with lines joining it at the top and bottom). I also like the piling up of sonorities (“pyramids”), which yield a wonderful sound, are easily performed and are rarely present in earlier music. Rustling and scurrying sounds are fascinating and I sometimes like to modify a long sound in one instrument by the addition of a simultaneous short attack in another, slightly coloring the result.

Counterpoint and canonic textures fascinate me; for one thing they may mean that the dominance of harmony is momentarily modified. Yet harmony also fascinates me. Triadic progressions may or may not sound fresh, they are standard and simple; on the other hand they usually belong with earlier music by composers for whom they were the basis of their language. Four-part harmony, while somewhat less traditional, leaves us with only three four-note chords within twelve notes. Six-note harmony seems dense and cluster-like, and there are only two six-note chords.

I sometimes like five-note harmony. One can select five notes for the first chord, then five others for the second. (The chords must progress smoothly and must always be chosen because of their wonderful sound.) Two notes have been left over, so they go into the third chord, supplemented by three chosen from the first. The fourth chord begins with the two notes left over from the first chord, plus three drawn from the second, and so forth. This can be a lovely way to move harmony.

My first concern in beginning a work is that the sound, the gesture, the atmosphere, be poignant and uniquely appropriate for the instruments chosen. Special, unforgettable. Given a good beginning, I can then go ahead, God willing.
—Leslie Bassett


This title, originally issued on the CRI label, is now available for order from New World Records as an on-demand CD (CD-R). It can also be downloaded in MP3/320, FLAC and/or WAV format(s).

Various Artists

Leslie Bassett: Echoes from an Invisible World

MP3/320 $9.99
FLAC $9.99
WAV $9.99
CD $15.99

Track Listing

Variations for Orchestra
Leslie Bassett
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Echoes from an Invisible World: Movement One (fast)
Leslie Bassett
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Echoes from an Invisible World: Movement Two (slow)
Leslie Bassett
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Echoes from an Invisible World: Movement Three (fast)
Leslie Bassett
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Sextet for Piano and Strings: Movement One (fast)
Leslie Bassett
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Sextet for Piano and Strings: Movement Two (fast)
Leslie Bassett
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Sextet for Piano and Strings: Movement Three (slow)
Leslie Bassett
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Sextet for Piano and Strings: Movement Four (fast)
Leslie Bassett
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