Kreutzer Quartet / Gloria Coates

Gloria Coates: Among the Asteroids

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American composer Gloria Coates was born in Wisconsin but has lived in Germany since the 1960s. Her music is not easy to classify, and the chamber works here might be said to bridge the divide between mid-century academic procedures and minimalism. They are rooted in strict procedures, such as canons and other abstract forms, but their pitch vocabulary is strongly restricted, sometimes even to a single note. Glissandi are used to ornament the basic structure and increase and decrease its density. And Coates' compositional ethos is intensely expressive. Check out Lunar Loops (track 9), for an example of her basic style: beginning with simple fourth intervals, she builds up a tremendous climax in the middle of the work. That piece is for two synthesized guitars, but elsewhere Coates uses traditional instruments. They may in turn seem to replicate electronic textures, but her evocative titles speak to a kind of modern Romanticism that is unlike anything else in the contemporary repertory. This release appears on John Zorn's Tzadik label and includes a set of poems dedicated to Zorn, each linked to the material in one of the works here. The individual pieces were recorded at various times and places in Germany and England, and the album as a whole seems intended as a sort of introduction to Coates. As such, it's highly recommended.

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