Sunday, September 11, 2011

Paul Zukofsky & Gilbert Kalish - Music For A 20th Century Violinist (Desto/ CMS - DC 6435-37)

20th century classical music has been dominated by three countries in particular, first Austria, then France and later by America. It can justly be said that the foundations were laid by Austrians, French designed the architecture and Americans built the rest. Of course this is a very general view with missing certain particular names along the way, East Europeans, British, German and Italians. They also had effect, but not as drastic as the first three.

There are certain elements for this country wise introduction that I have made. I will get into detail with a review of itself. It will be mainly about 20th century classical music, the effects of war, politics and how these shaped the current musical world.

The reason I'm stumping onto this ground is that I will be writing about some treasures which I have recently bought. They are mainly the works of 20th century composers played by either themselves or distinguished performers.

To start with, I am listening the box set "Music For A 20th Century Violinist" by Paul Zukofsky. He is concentrated on the contemporary classical works and based on his explanation, the ones composed after 1940. I guess he tried to explain himself better by putting up a starting date. Anyway... The work of Zukofsky is supported by another important performer of these works, Gilbert Kalish on the piano.

This duo put up an extensive review of the modern composers by covering 14 names which include John Cage, Morton Feldman, Stefan Wolpe, Milton Babbitt, George Crumb and others. Harvey Sollberger appears as well and he is also the conductor for these performances.

The three records are divided into three decades of American music, 40s, 50s and 60s. The set is dated as 1974. The choices of compositions are in themselves pretty much sums up the notion of an anthology very well and developments/new ideas can easily be seen to develop between the records. The performances of Zukofsky and Kalish are extremely effective with the former creating the whole atmosphere of those years. It is a great collection for the person who is interested in contemporary classical music. I'm not saying it's the only one since I'll be listening/reviewing to a similar one by Aki Takahashi as well.

If I am to note certain compositions from this box set, Peter Mennin's Sonata Concertante, Morton Feldman's Vertical Thoughts 2, Michael Sahl's String Quartet and Walter Piston's Sonatina. However, I should certainly point out that this set has to be listened from beginning to the end as all titles are worth their place and together they give an established view. Hail to Zukofsky and Kalish while we should also thank CMS and Desto records to release it.


  1. Forgive me, but where in the heck do you hide your links?
    Your blog looks very interesting and truly varied.
    Thanks for your work!

  2. Actually I'm not hiding any links :) Thanks for the comments.