mode 22

Relâche: On Edge — works of Tenney, Albert & Epstein



mode 22 RELACHE: “On Edge” — works by James TENNEY; Thomas ALBERT and Paul EPSTEIN

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Relâche: On Edge


1. Critical Band (1988)  18:04  First recording.

PAUL A. EPSTEIN (b.1938)

2. Chamber Music: Three Songs from “Home” (1986)  17:38  First recording.

Barbara Noska, mezzo-soprano


3. A Maze (With Grace)  (1975)  13:36  First recording.

4. Devil’s Rain  (1977, revised 1986)  9:27  First recording.

Founded in Philadelphia in 1977, Relâche is devoted to the development and performance of contemporary music with an emphasis on works of an experimental nature. Epstein’s Chamber Music sets the poems of Toby Olson. Albert’s A Maze (With Grace) is literally a maze, through which the players gradually intimate the hymn Amazing Grace until it finally emerges in full-form from a delicately colored tonal mist. His Devil’s Rain is an exciting mininalist excursion. James Tenney’s Critical Band explores the microtonal possibilities which occur as the ensemble gradually expand on the range of pitches above and below a central pitch of A-440, prompting John Cage to comment that Critical Band was one of the most interesting compositions he had heard in years. All works were commissioned by Relâche. Relâche recently released a CD on O.O. Discs.


“The Relâche Ensemble’s first full CD is like them: smooth, hip, understated. Paul Epstein’s Chamber Music is already a postminimalist classic. Thomas Albert’s mid-’70s A Maze (with Grace) and Devil’s Rain mark the edge where minimalism seeped into its postgenre, but they transcend either style, the latter a bopping tune in 13/16 rhythm that you can’t stop humming. The disc anticlimaxes reverently with Critical Band by conceptualist James Tenney, which blossoms from a single tone to harmonic series in exquisite slow motion. That four pieces this good didn’t hit disc earlier shows an important movement overdue for recognition. Rating A: PICK HIT.”
—Kyle Gann, The Village Voice


Relâche Ensemble site