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Three Early Compositions by David A. Jaffe

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Item Type: Sound Recording Duration: 30 min
Event Type: Music Program Origin: KPFA

Three fairly early works by David A. Jaffe. In the words of the composer, taken from some accompanying notes written around 1979:

“In ‘City Life’ the architecture and idioms of the 5-string banjo generate the material of the piece and provide it with its formal structure. The banjo is clearly the protagonist confronting, leading, and joining the others. The banjo part was scored for long neck 5-string banjo, an obscure breed which was born during the folk boom in the 60s and which is no longer being produced. Because of its difficulty and the unusual technique involved with playing the banjo (e.g. in order to play a scale it is necessary to alternate strings), the banjo part was written entirely in tablature.”

“’Sunday at Bean Blossom’ is a rather abstracted depiction of a day at a bluegrass festival, from the gospel sing in the morning with everyone still feeling the effects of the previous night’s intoxication, through the long high-energy daytime show with the amplified sound of professional bluegrass bands in the main stage area being obscured sometimes by the unamplified sound of the ‘parking lot pickers,’ to, finally, night in the campground with the distant cacophony of a hundred different groups of musicians taking time off from their dull jobs to play their banjos out of tune (sweetly).”

“’Cryptogram,’ as was the case with ‘City Life,’ is a very much ‘about’ orchestration, that is to say, sound itself. The instruments are scored in huge blocks, and are formed into broad, thick, gestures like the brush strokes of de Kooning. These ‘brush strokes’ then, rather than their context, becomes the expression.”

All the works were recorded during concerts at Bennington College in Vermont, the first in June 1979, the second in June 1978, and the third in April 1978.

Musical Selections:  City Life, for harpsichord, banjo, guitar, and mandolin (1979) (6:23) -- Sunday at Bean Blossom: Morning ; Festival ; Night, for harpsichord, guitar, mandolin, glockenspiel, xylophone, violin, and cello (1978) (11:21) -- Cryptogram, for small orchestra (1978) (10:03)
Performers:  Jacob Glick, mandolin ; violin (City ; Sunday)
David A. Jaffe, banjo ; violin, mandolin (City ; Sunday)
Laura Goldfader, guitar (City)
Genevieve Beaudet, harpsichord (City)
Amy Snyder, conductor (City)
David Starobin, guitar (Sunday)
Rich Sachs, xylophone, glockenspiel (Sunday)
Marianne Finckel, harpsichord (Sunday)
Barbara Mallow, cello (Sunday)
Henry Brant, conductor (Sunday)
Genres:  20th Century Classical; New Music
Subject:  20th century classical; New music; Chamber music; Quartets (Harpsichord, banjo, guitar, mandolin) ; Sextets (Harpsichord, guitar, mandolin, percussion, violin, cello); Chamber orchestra music
People:  Jaffe, David A. (David Aaron), 1955-; Glick, Jacob ; Goldfader, Laura; Beaudet, Genevieve ; Snyder, Amy; Starobin, David ; Sachs, Rich; Finckel, Marianne; Mallow, Barbara; Brant, Henry, 1913-
Recording Date:  ca '79
 
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