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The Fence

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Album Review

This CD contains two half-hour radio works. The title piece marks a shift in Jon Rose's music. He leaves behind the humoristic, satirical threads of his earlier pieces (the Rosenberg cycle, the shopping cycle) to explore a dead-serious subject. The music derives from Rose's homemade string instruments, long-stretched wires resembling fences. The fence, steeped in symbols of military order, is given the subversive role of musical instrument. The ten sections of the piece work as snapshots of fences around the world (Russia, the U.S.A.-Mexico border, Israel, etc.). Each location inspires a set of field (or reconstituted) recordings and specific "flavors" that accompany the string music and a short reflection on the role this particular fence plays in the lives of the people living close to it (text is narrated in German, but the booklet contains an English translation). The second piece, "Bagni di Dollabella," features a fictional guide, Dollabella, taking listeners on a tour of Roman Baths. Under her comments lies a story of sexual harassment in the workplace and political corruption. The music here consists of sampled violins and water sounds. It recalls the pieces on the 1993 album The Virtual Violin and adding the "guide" motif foretells the magnificent The Violin Factory from 2001. The story is a bit naïve and the sound treatment occasionally crude, but it makes a good piece. This album can be disconcerting, especially to fans of Rose's earlier, more playful (even wacky) works. But narratively it makes more sense and is more involving on an emotional level. ~ François Couture, Rovi


Genre: Classical

Years Active: '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s

Jon Rose is a highly versatile violin player despite the fact that that tends to be forgotten. A maverick, subversive character and one of the most colorful artists in new music, Rose is mostly known for his many experimental radio dramas, conceptual stage pieces, deconstructed/reinvented string instruments, and a wicked sense of humor. Most of his works are threaded with cross-thematic elements (in a way that strongly recalls Frank Zappa's own "conceptual continuity") that elaborate a revision of...
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The Fence, Jon Rose
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