REGISTER NOW AND GET
• 5 FREE tracks! • 101 tracks for $9.99
ClassicsOnline Home » WOLOSOFF, B.: Songs Without Words (Carpe Diem String Quartet)
‘Bruce Wolosoff’s music is beautiful, very musical, independent-minded stylistically,’ declares no less a luminary than William Bolcom. The eighteen Songs Without Words on this disc are true ‘genre busters’, amiably crossing musical borders between popular and classical music and walking the lines that divide them. Such eclecticism requires superbly laid-back compositional control, and demands equally accomplished and relaxed performance. ‘Imagine my newfound joy at the possibility of writing music that my friends might want to listen to for pleasure,’ Wolosoff declared on hearing the Carpe Diem String Quartet’s enthusiastically fun-filled interpretations.
Beautiful and consistently upbeat 'songs' don't need 'words'!
The new Naxos CD, "Songs Without Words", string quartet by Bruce Wolosoff is a revelation. I had never heard of Mr. Wolosoff nor any of his music until this release. This collection of eighteen pieces, with intriguing titles, like "Dancing on my Grave", "Creepalicious" or "Cat Scratch Fever" (yes... a reference to Ted Nugent!) is easy to listen to and easy to like. Wolosoff explains in the package notes that Charles Wetherbee, violinist with the present performers; the Carpe Diem Quartet, asked Bruce to write some music for their ensemble that was intentionally rock and jazz base. Wolosoff already had a developing reputation in and around upper New York as someone with an open, accessible and tuneful style of writing with a youthful focus (as his work with aspiring high school composers and performers at his Hayground School attests). Sure enough, the pieces on this disc have their sonic genealogy in blues, rock, country, "bluegrass" and so forth.
Each piece is skillfully played with an obvious enthusiasm by the Carpe Diem group who clearly "seize the day" in preparing music that sounds both through composed and concert hall like and quite improvisatory and pop sounding. I enjoyed all these little gems but some in particular. There is an almost Copland like serenity and 'down home' feel to lyrical works like "The Letter" or his "Young Love". However, it is impossible not to like the irreverent abandon one hears in works like "Getting Down" or "Creepalicious" - which Wolosoff admits was intended as a sort of near atonal, creepy Halloween piece!
Some of these works are directly connected in a bit of tribute to popular groups like 'Queen' ("Reverence") and "Fire and Ice" with its almost "metal" like intro. Wolosoff also admits that, unlike most traditional concert hall composing, the works were completely 'played and composed' before he actually notated and printed them.more....
By Robert R. Reilly
Bruce Wolosoff (b. 1955)
Songs without Words
When violinist Charles Wetherbee first approached me with this project I was a bit hesitant. I’d written for Chas several times before, as soloist, chamber artist, and concertmaster of the Columbus Symphony, and know that he is a fantastic musician who can play just about anything ever written for the violin. This time, he wanted me to write rock and jazz based music for the newly formed Carpe Diem String Quartet, but still in my own voice as a composer. I couldn’t quite get my head around what that meant.
I’d played in rock bands as a kid while pursuing my studies in classical piano. Back then, we kept it all separate. Gradually, over the past decade or so, the music which I loved so much when I was younger began creeping ever more steadily into my compositions. What started out as tinges of jazz and blues in essentially modern classical pieces was beginning to dominate the work. In pieces like the ballet The Passions or the trio Blues for the New Millennium, entire sections were based on blues and boogie-woogie. In these cases though, the music would morph back and forth between modern classical and other styles, or attempt to walk the line at the place where they meet.
Several of the songs are inspired by blues form: The River is a gentle meditation on the blues, Blues for Stravinsky a modal jazz composition in which successive choruses overlap by four bars, Dancing on my Grave a rowdy Texas blues, for string quartet!
Most of the other songs follow a verse and chorus format. A personal favorite is After Hours, a jazz ballad played so beautifully on this recording by violist Korine Fujiwara.
A couple odd ones: Reverence, which reminds me of late Beethoven, grew out of my jam session on Bohemian Rhapsody by Queen (the title refers to movements of bowing and respect sometimes done at the end of dance class). Creepalicious, which began as an experiment with a nine-note tone row, is my contribution to the distinguished canon of Hallowe’en music.
All titles were added after the music was completely written. The quartet preferred titles to Italianate tempo terms like Allegro and Andante because they thought an audience might find them helpful as another way into the music.
As Carpe Diem started playing these pieces, I was surprised by the degree of enthusiasm people were displaying. This music is so much lighter and happier than my previous work. Did that imply that it’s not as serious? I worried what my composer colleagues would think. I wondered: is music with a happy aesthetic any less valid than dark, depressing, gnarly, and complicated “serious” music? Imagine my new-found joy at the possibility of writing music that my friends might want to listen to for pleasure.
Last Albums Viewed
WOLOSOFF, B.: Songs Without Words (Carpe Diem Stri...