David Gilbert, flute; Karl Kraber, flute; Raymond Des Roches, vibraphone; Linda Cummiskey, violin; Philip Corner, amplified piano; Michael Levenson, percussion; Wilma Zonn, oboe; Arthur Maddox, piano
Harley Gaber’s two compositions on this record represent quite different phases in the development of his musical thinking. The first, Ludus Primus (1966), is the earlier work and reflects a more characteristically Western approach and experience than the second work. Kata (1969) suggests the very stark and direct experience of certain Oriental arts and modes of thinking.
In Ludus Primus a distinction is made between what is happening “out there” in the music and what is being experienced by the listener and even the performer. They are both presented with a self-contained experience in which the focus is on how the elements are made to relate to each other, rather than on the elements themselves or the tensions these elements generate. Inherent in each gesture is the feeling of its place within the whole, its particular function and its relationship to all the other gestures in the piece. The structure is delineated by the suspension of the two flutes over a ground (the vibraphone) and the use of particular intervals, dynamics, voice leadings, voice crossings, textures, and rhythms. All of the aspects function to create the impression of a multifaceted sound image within a well-defined area.
The writing in Kata, which because of its deliberate starkness seems almost impoverished in comparison to the richness of Ludus Primus, seeks to focus on the elements and gestures in such a way that the context is revealed through them rather than vice versa. The listener as well as the performer is asked to experience the individual tensions and sound qualities, all of which are highly controlled, without really understanding the manipulations behind them, or for that matter, their specific musical reason for existing as they do. Thus the gestures are isolated and in a certain sense become symbolic of themselves. The reality of Kata as a “piece of music” is no longer entirely relevant.
About Ek-Stasis II, William Hellermann writes:
“Ek-stasis is the Greek root for the English word ecstasy. In its earlier meaning, it meant an object set outside one’s self for contemplation.
“The point of the piece and the intended drama is that there is no dichotomy between the worlds of natural and electronic sounds. The timpani strive to be more than a natural sound medium by the use of unusual coloristic modes of playing and by functioning as resonators for other sounds created normally. On the other hand, the taped sounds, which are entirely generated by electronic means, resemble those that occur in nature. The piano, being amplified, partakes of both and serves as an intermediary between them.”
About Chroma, Paul Zonn writes:
“Chroma was written for Wilma Zonn as a virtuoso vehicle making use of several (of the then) ‘new’ oboe techniques, such as multiphonics, double-note trills, microtonal pitch changes, and coloration of notes. We had begun to investigate and catalogue these and other advanced techniques as compositional devices as early as 1962. When I completed Chroma in 1967, I hoped at that time that I had managed to integrate the unusual sounds into the compositional fabric in a convincing and natural way.”
This title, originally issued on the CRI label, is now available as a burn-on-demand CD (CD-R) or download in MP3/320, FLAC or WAV formats. CD-Rs come in a protective sleeve; no print booklet or jewel case included. Full liner notes are accessible via the link above.