Music

Charlemagne Palestine: Strumming Music

John Garratt

I hope you like the two or three notes on these three CDs. If not, you're in for almost two hours of hell.


Charlemagne Palestine

Strumming Music for Piano, Harpsichord and String Ensemble

Label: Sub Rosa
US Release Date: 2010-10-12
UK Release Date: 2010-10-04
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Back in the early '70s, New York composer Charlemagne Palestine steered minimalism in a direction he called "strumming." Two notes are batted back and forth rapidly, sometimes adding another to pair up with the higher one, until a strange overtone is achieved. The Brussels-based label Sub Rosa has secured three recordings of pieces that have otherwise been forgotten since the me decade, and released them on a three-CD set under the title Strumming Music.

The first disc is Palestine performing a 52-minute work on the piano himself. The second disc is a recording of Betsy Freeman playing a similar piece for the harpsichord three years later. The last installment is for a string ensemble from the San Francisco Conservatory under the supervision of John Adams. A wonky mix, likely caused by faulty microphones coupled with distracting, extraneous coughs, begs for these pieces to be recorded in a more flattering setting. Until then, enjoy the drone.

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