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Malcolm Goldstein: a sounding of sources

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Album Review

Malcolm Goldstein's widely recognized composition The Seasons: Vermont is monumental in the same way that John Cage's "Atlas Eclipticalis" is. Goldstein's work, for multi-tracked tape collage and an unspecified number of vocalists and instrumentalists, captures the sounds and feelings of the state of Vermont through the four-movement seasonal cycle of one year beginning with the summer. There are sound textures cycled throughout each season, obviously indicative of that period — water, birds, earth moving, and so on. They are repeated in various ways after being grouped and regrouped and then accented with the musical voices of live performers. These voices have been scored specifically to moments in the tape collage, though there are passages written in for improvisation according to the work's frame guidelines. The Seasons: Vermont was ten years in the making. Goldstein listened, assimilated, and then collected sounds to record, manipulate, and then edit into an entire framework. This recorded performance is a re-creation of one given in 1983. That concert was released in edited form on Moe Asche's Folkways Records. The piece here bears some resemblance to the earlier work, but its re-creation, due to the abundance of editing techniques now available for digital and analogue tape, as well as the sense of improvisation that has been adopted by American musicians makes The Seasons: Vermont a wholly new work, interpreted through the looking glass of time and space as a place that perhaps no longer exists except in the composer's memory or on this tape. Pastoral sounds and percussive interruptions all become part of a flow where time itself ceases to exist, because it too is in the process of becoming extinct. The elegiac feeling of this composition comes not from the composer, but by the weight placed upon it by the listener in terms of remembrance, longing, regret, resolve, and so on, all brought on by the great memory inducer: sound. The Seasons: Vermont is a work of pure instinctual genius and solid compositional authority that should become a part of the national archive at the new home of Folkways, the Smithsonian.


Born: March 27, 1936 in Brooklyn, NY

Genre: Classical

Years Active: '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s

American avant-garde violinist, improviser, and composer Malcolm Goldstein has been exploring the sounds possible with the violin since the early '60s, when he, Philip Corner, and James Tenney founded the Tone Roads Ensemble. In addition to receiving commissions for his own work from a number of arts councils and vocalists, other composers (including John Cage, Christian Wolff, and Ornette Coleman) have written works specifically for Goldstein. He has performed all over Europe and North America,...
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Malcolm Goldstein: a sounding of sources, Malcolm Goldstein
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