New- / Contemperary music series
The subject of this radio show is the 80 years old American avant-garde composer Philip Corner, who was born on 10 April 80 the age of and his music.
Philip Corner – 40 Years and One
Philip Corner (born 1933) is an experimental composer who has been totally going for it since the 1950s. He’s perhaps best known for his work in the realms of Fluxus, minimalism and chance operations–although he notates some pieces, too–as well as his associations with fellow composers John Cage and James Tenney.
The 40 Years and OneCD features 73 minutes of solo piano played by the composer himself. The pieces, which span from the late 1950s through the ’70s, were recorded in January 1998 and released by New York experimental music label XI Records in 2001.
Out of a total of nine tracks, the first seven are short and wear on the listener like a really prickly bodysuit, filled with disjointed bits of melodies, sudden outbursts, inside scraping and atonal note clusters that effortlessly veer from quiet contemplation to eruptions of ugly dissonance on a dime. The last two tracks fill up the rest of the album in a slightly more pleasing manner.
“Pulse” splays out a full 25 minutes of pounding dissonant rhythms that eventually turn all gentle, repetitive and pretty; while the 23-minute “perfect” returns to full-on improv mode with some lively inside playing–featuring scads of scraping, knocking, jingling, rubbing and ringing bells–on a naturally reverberant prepared piano. Typically, most people regard this kind of music as very difficult to listen to, but I’ve found that it’s really quite easy if you stop expecting and just listen closely.
Philip Corner – 40 Years and One: Philip Corner Plays The Piano (2000, CD, XI Records, XI 125)
- 7 Joyous Flashes
- Concero for Housekeeper
- Short Piano Piece IV
- Short Piano Piece IX
- Short Piano Piece XIII
- Flux & Form No.2 (solo)
- Flux & Form No.2 (three versions mixed)
- Pulse: a “Keyboard Dance’ / C Major Chord
- “perfect” (on the string)
Philip Corner – from The Judson Years
The American avant-garde composer created and exceptional work in the late ’60s, entitled Metal Meditations, which used amplified steel objects to create deep resonating tones resulting in a minimal avant-garde music that was profoundly affecting.
By comparison, On Tape From the Judson Days is a little disappointing, mainly because the prospect of a collection of tape music and electronic compositions by this highly inventive composer promises to be certainly interesting if not astounding.
Not to say that this isn’t a curious and considerably vital contribution to late-’60s American avant-garde music — many of the sketches and studies herein were never intended as more than home experiments. Hence, the recording is faltered by flawed fidelity as one could expect 30 years of depletion on already low fidelity master tapes.
With an open ear, however, the primitive tape works are excellent examples of an experimental music scene dedicated to new approaches to sonic arts, and, like La Monte Young, Tony Conrad and David Behrman, Philip Corner is an experimental composer whose ’60s work is certainly worthy of rediscovery.
Philip Corner – On Tape from The Judson Years(1998, CD, Alga Marghen, C 4NMN.019)
- Memories: Performances
- Oracle, an electronic cantata on images of war:
- War Is Hell
- Sound-Off and March
- Black Hole
- Cried Silence
- Bev’s Circus Tape
You can listen the show (beginning from 01:30):