Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Doris Hays - The Piano Music of Henry Cowell (1977)

Doris Hays - piano

produced by Ilhan Mimaroglu

recording engineer: Bernard Keville
RCA Recording Studios, Studio "A", New York, N.Y.

mastering engineer: George Piros
Atlantic Recording Studios, New York, N.Y.

The vitality of a musical culture is apparent from the way its traditions are investigated, tested, tinkered with and generally overhauled. Henry Cowell was one investigator who influenced countless composers and listeners through his compositions, his teaching and numerous concert tours around the world performing his piano music.

Henry Cowell was born in Menlo Park, California, in 1897. He began his experiments in sound production at the keyboard, using fists, forearms and palms to produce masses of adjacent seconds which he called tone clusters. His earliest-known piece using clusters is entitledAdventures in Harmony, completed when he was about fifteen. From that time into the thirties, Cowell wrote dozens of pieces using tone clusters in a surprising variety of ways. Sometimes the cluster is pictorially programmatic, as the ostinato bass clusters imaging the pulse of waves in The Tides of Manaunaun; or is used as accenting tone mass, in Advertisement; or, for special colorative effects as inThe Voice of Lir.

Cowell also explored possibilities provided by the strings of the grand piano: damping strings at various nodes for timbre and pitch change (Sinister Resonance); scraping and rubbing the windings of bass strings (The Banshee); and strumming and plucking strings (Aeolian Harp).

Henry Cowell began concertizing outside of the U.S. in the twenties; he gave his first concert in Europe in 1923. It was after a successful visit to Russia in 1928 that the Russian government published Tiger andThe Lilt of the Reel, a first in publishing for an American in Soviet Russia. In mid-1950s Cowell and his wife toured the Middle and Far East under State Department and The Rockefeller Foundation auspices. He composed symphonic works which carry the spirit of his impressions of oriental scales and rhythmic modes gathered during these trips and from childhood influences of Chinese and other cultures in California - Ongaku, the Madras Symphony, Persian Set,Concerto for Koto.

The relationship of dissonance to consonance and the functions of overtones in harmonic theory which Cowell had explored instinctively in his early tone cluster pieces, he then organized into carefully formulated ideas, published in the twenties as New Musical Resources, which was reissued in 1969 by Something Else Press. In 1927 he began the New Music Edition, a quarterly that published compositions of many composers who are now considered among the finest of this century, including Berg, Chavez, Copland, Vivian Fine, Ives, Dane Rudhyar, Ruggles and Ruth Crawford Seeger. He taught at the New School for Social Research in New York City. His wide acquaintance among living composers made of him a continuing contact center and information exchange on several continents.

Henry Cowell died December 10, 1965, at his home in Shady, New York. (Doris Hays)


Side One

1. The Voice of Lir {4:26}

2. Advertisement {1:35}

3. Anger Dance {1:32}

4. Amiable Conversation {0:48}

5. The Tides of Manaunaun {2:55}

6. Aeolian Harp {2:11}

7. The Hero Sun {3:44}

8. Tiger {3:14}

9. Six Ings {8:08}

Side Two

1. Dynamic Motion {3:26}

2. The Harp of Life {5:22}

3. What's This {0:51}

4. Sinister Resonance {2:53}

5. Fabric {1:16}

6. Antinomy {3:17}

7. The Trumpet of Angus Og {3:37}

8. The Banshee {3:13}

9. Maestoso {3:29}

10. The Lilt of the Reel {1:56}

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for this record. Download file comes with B-side only, though. Is that on purpose or something you could possibly fix? Thanks in advance.