SOCIETY OF COMPOSERS, INC
Cover Design: Gerald Warfield
& Richard Brooks
Available at your favorite digital etailers
including iTunes, Rhapsody and eMusic
Catalog Number: CPS-8609
Audio Format: Digital Stereo
Playing Time: 57:57
Release Date: 1991
is a new company that features the Society of Composers, Inc. recordings
as well as individual composers. Potpourri is second in the
SCI CD series. It is aptly named, as the styles represented are
The CD begins with Five Brass Voicees by Emmanuel Ghent (Composer-in-residence
at Bell Telephone Laboratories). Five Brass Voices is a computer
generated tape piece in which thc computer is used for its ability
to create multi-tempo rhythms. Little, if any attention is given
to timbre; in fact the sounds used are rather banal. On the other
hand, the diverging pulsations and the rapidly changing cross rhythms
are almost interesting enough in and of themselves.
The second piece, Sonata for Cello and Piano by John
White (University of Florida), is performed by Carolyn Bridger,
piano and J. White, 'cello. The piece is in three movements. The
influence of howard Hanson on White is apparent in the clarity of
form and beauty of expression exhibited in this piece. According
to the liner notes the "work is innovative in form but bears
some resemblance to the traditional sonata pattern." To this
reviewer the innovation of form was not apparent. While the piece
would not work well as a model of the traditional sonata pattern
there does not appear to be anything especially innovative about
the form; at least not if one takes into account Elliott Carter,
or even Mahler. The performance of White and Bridger was excellent.
Quite a contrast is the piece that follows. Written by Elliott
Schwartz (Bowdoin College), Reading Seasion combines
clarinet, piano and narrated words in an ironic statement revolving
around Cage's words, I HAVE NOTHING TO SAY AND I AM SAYING IT AND
THAT IS POETRY. The words are rearranged in several ways by the
poet Edward Morgan, each time changing the meaning of the text.
Schwartz creates quite a rich tapestry of timbres despite the use
of only three sound producers (but only two performers) and keeps
the listener's attention with dramatic changes in musical style.
The performance by Phillip Rehfeldt, clarinet and Barney Childs,
piano is superb.
In Leo Kraft's Second Fantasy for Flute and Piano the cormposer
makes excellent use of changing dynamics, articulations, and textures
and contrasts between metered and non metered rhythms to delineate
the section in this free-form atonal work. The performers Sue Ann
Kahn, flute and Andrew Willis, piano were impressive.
The final piece on the CD is Fluxions by Victor Saucedo Tecayhuatzin,
Professor of Music at Southwestern College in Chula Vista, California. Fluxions is a computer-generated tape piece. While the timbres
were more interesting than those in Ghent's piece they again were
not enough to be of primary interest; the piece was written (and
presumably realized) in 1977, which accounts for this. Fluxions is a sectional piece. According to the composer the entire piece
is based nn a six note series, ...one rhythmic unit and four functions."
The seven sections or variations are created by various changes
in parameters such as sampling rates, modulation indexes, and carrier
to modulation ratios. One puzzling statement from the liner notes
was the reference to location modulation with regard to the third
section. This reviewer could not discern any such thing. In fact,
the sounds in this section seemed to be more centrally located and
with a more consistent reverberation rate than in some of the other
The overall recording quality of this CD was uneven. This is not
surprising since each composer recorded his piece using different
engineers, studios, and equipment. The recording of Elliott Schwartz'
piece by Scott Vance was excellent. It had a naturalness to it that
is rare. In Kraft's piece print-through was evident in the solo
passages and artificial reverberation was used. Overall, the recording
of White's piece by Tom Hunter was quite good, but there was a strange
cut made at the beginning where the sound suddenly is deadened where
I suspect a major edit was done. The CD is not marked as to whether
it was AAD or DDD but it was apparent from the hiss that it was
AAD. For the most part the noise level was not objectionable. However,
in Tecayehuatzin's piece the hiss level was higher than one is used
to hearing from a CD.
Despite these problems, the variety of pieces presented and the
excellent performances of the instrumental pieces made this CD worth
- May/June, 1992 - by James H. North
a collection of contemporary works, one always looks for a bias,
as such things are especially political: what group, what
ism, is represented here? The Society was formerly the American
Society of University Compsers, and these are all living composers
from fifty-five to seventy years of age; no graduate assistants
Emmanuel Ghent is a Canadian who studied with Varcse and with Shapey;
his Five Brass Voices is an oddity: a reworking for
computer of a 1965 brass quintet. One can often follow the instrumental
lines, as the electronic sounds have timbres and ranges characteristic
of trumpet, horn, trombone, and tuba. John White was a pupil of
Hanson and Rogers, and he "worked informally" with Nadia
Boulanger and Ross Lee Finney. His 1981 cello sonata is in three
movements of innovative forms, the central one having a scherzo-like
section inserted in a slow movement. The piece is very demanding
of both performers; the composer proves a most able cellist, and
is matched by his pianist. Elliott Schwartz studied under Otto Luening
and Jack Beeson. Reading Session asks both clarinetist and
pianist to recite dramatically, sing along. whisper, and shout -
challenges to even the best of musicians. The texts center around
and take off from Cage's "I have nothing to say and I am saying
it and that is poetry." Yet the notes tell us that "much
of the narration is chosen by the players." The work is a set
of variations, both of musical material and of Cage's words.
Leo Kraft Studied under Karol Rathaus, Randall Thompson, and Nadia
Boulanger - he is the doyen of this group. Second Fantasy is a single
movement of many sections which uses both regular and alto flutes.
Victor Saucedo Tecayehuatzin worked under Roy Harris, Karlheinz
Stockhausen, and Halsey Stevens. Fluxions (1977) is eletronic
music all the way; the composer gives us a detailed minutc-by-minute
numerical analysis, including exact frequency specifications. It
does sound like music. In fact, for all the variety of lineages
and techniques exhibited here, this "Potpouri" strikes
one as rather staid; these are the avant~garde of several decades
Society Bulletin - September??? 1993 - by Julia C. Combs, University
"Potpourri is a bouquet of newer compositions selected by a panel from the
Society of Composers, Inc. This disc contains an interesting mixture
of computer-generated and acoustically produced works.
The two computer pieces frame the five works included here. The
first, Five Brass Voices (1977) by Emanuel Ghent, is a reworking
of his 1965 brass quintet Dithyrambos. This version
uses the GROOVE system and is a two-channel mix down of an original
four-channel tape. The piece demonstrates Ghent's fascination with
simultaneous multi-tempo rhythms.
The second computer work, by Victor Saucedo Tecayehuatzin, was realized
at the Center for Music Experiment at the University of California
San Diego on the Timbre Tuning System. Fluxions (1977) is
based on a six-note series, one rhythmic unit and four functions.
The composer varies these parameters either slowly or abruptly throughout
the piece thus generating its title.
Leo Krafts Second Fantasy for Flute and Piano (1980) is a
single movement free-form work. Timbral contrasts accur through
the use of soprano and alto flutes, and metered and unmetered sections
provide structural contrasts.
John Whites Sonata for Cello and Piano (1981) resembles a
traditional sonata in its three movement design. His virtuosic yet
idiomatic treatment of both instruments is innovative, energetic,
Elliott Schwartzs Reading Session (1993) for clarinet, piano,
and narrator is a set of variations based on a Cage quotation: I
HAVE NOTHING TO SAY AND I AM SAYING IT AND THAT IS POETRY. Poet
Edward Morgan regrouped some of Cages words, but the performers
may choose much of the narration as well as the musical fragments.
Even without the visual theater element, this is a charming, delightful
The variety and differing focus of these works are an interesting
summation of late twentieth-century compositional techniques. The
disc would be well suited as listening in either a period history
or general studies course."