Monday, October 29, 2007

New Release Tuesday: William Bolcom Complete Works for Cello

Tomorrow marks another release of William Bolcom's music on Naxos.  Previous releases have included a disk of violin sonatas, songs, and, of course the epic Songs of Innocence and of Experience with Leonard Slatkin and the University of Michigan Symphony. 

Tomorrow's release features the complete works for cello!

I am excited about this release for a couple of reasons.  First, William Bolcom is a product of Seattle, WA.  He was born here and a very young age he studied at the University of Washington with Fredrick McKay.  Later, he studied with Darius Milhaud and Oliver Messiaen.  Even though I am a transplant, I am continuously intrigued by the music which originated in one way or another in Seattle.

I am also anxious for this release, because William Bolcom's music is ever changing.  This new album, like the others before it, promises to showcase this aspect of Bolcom's music.  I don't think the same can be said about composers like Philip Glass and John Adams who have been composing roughly the same stuff for some time now.  A good example of this is Bolcom's mammoth Songs of Innocence and of Experience.  The work consumed the composer for 25 years of his life and dips its toes in a variety of stylistic waters.   

The works on the disk find influence from a variety of sources including Pierre Boulez and Darius Milhaud.  Of course, his more recent compositions arguably look backward as they assume tonal qualities missing from other works.

Bolcom may not be the most original voice in American classical music these days, but he is undoubtedly one of the most versatile American composers of the 20th and 21st Century.

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