Full Album Includes ALC Version
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"..These rugged, mystical Rudhyar works from the 20s are reminiscent of Ruggles in their dissonant, elemental power; the early ones, especially "Cortege Funebre", are more perfumed and more French, but still massive and noble. Richard Cameron-Wolfe, a Rudhyar specialist who befriended the composer in the 70s, plays with a big sonority in fortissimos and silken tone in the soft passages. The recording is strong and resonant, as it must be. Just as radical in its quiet way is Satie's 1892 "Christian ballet” USPUD for narrator and piano, a spare, minimalist quasi-religious work ... admired only by Debussy among major composers. ... Kathryn Philip's raptly understated narration and Cameron-Wolfe's sensitive playing conjure an austere rapture unique to this composer." -AMERICAN RECORD GUIDE, Vol. 67, No. 5: September/October 2004 -Reviewed by Jack Sullivan
Richard Cameron-Wolfe encountered the piano music of both Rudhyar and Satie while a student at Indiana University in the late ‘60s and early ‘70s, where his piano teachers included Joseph Battista and Menahem Pressler and where he studied composition with Bernhard Heiden, Iannis Xenakis, and John Eaton. Neither Rudhyar nor Satie figured directly in his academic training, but both exerted a profound influence on the shaping of his individual artistic identity.
When in 1972 his friends Robin and Amber Faith excitedly described their forthcoming trip to an astrology conference in Chicago, at which Dane Rudhyar was to be the guest of honor, RCW told them of his interest in Rudhyar the composer. His curiosity had been whetted by the few Rudhyar resources available at that time: the wonderful William Masselos LP recording of Granites, Paeans, and Stars, and the scores printed in Henry Cowell’s journal New Music (1925-1936). Robin advised Rudhyar of RCW’s interest, and a few weeks later a package arrived, containing a long letter from Rudhyar and a stack of his scores. Thus commenced a 13-year relationship in which Rudhyar became a mentor - through extensive correspondence, phone contacts, and periodic meetings on both coasts.
RCW’s first Rudhyar performance, of the Tetragram #3 recorded here, took place at a 1973 gathering of the independent interarts collective FIASCO (at which he had previously performed the compositions of Ives, Feldman, and numerous student composers).
A chance encounter with composer-pianist Noel Farrand in New Mexico in the summer of 1974 led to a Rudhyar performance in Taos, which included Tetragram #3, “Stars”, and possibly the only public performance of his Pentagram #4 (which Rudhyar felt needed to be rewritten for two pianos).Abandoning a Doctorate in Composition at Indiana, RCW taught for a year at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, where he not only performed Rudhyar’s music1 but also successfully encouraged area choreographers to use it. [During Rudhyar’s early years in the US, he worked extensively with such modern dance luminaries as Lester Horton and Doris Humphrey.]
A 1975 offer to work with the New York City-based Jose Limon Dance Company coincided with Noel Farrand’s offer of his $175/month Soho apartment, so RCW moved to Manhattan, leaving the Midwest (he was born in Cleveland, Ohio and also attended Oberlin College) to base himself on the East Coast, while maintaining a strong connection with the Southwest through Noel Farrand’s Taos organization Friends of American Music. There in Taos he also met Eya Fechin Rudhyar, Rudhyar’s beloved former wife, establishing a friendship that continued to grow until her death in late 2002.
By the mid-’70s, a revival of interest in Rudhyar the composer was well established, and he resumed writing at an intense pace. A new 1977 work Three Cantos was dedicated to Cameron-Wolfe and was premiered by him shortly thereafter at a Manhattan “downtown” concert in the loft of Chris Brubeck. (To be released on a future furious artisans CD).
After an extensive period focused primarily on composing and teaching, RCW reactivated his Rudhyar repertoire, giving late ‘80s and early ‘90s “first performances” in Finland, Russia, Bulgaria, Azerbaijan, and the Netherlands. At the end of the millennium, he and Eya Fechin jointly produced three seasons of Taos concerts, in which the music of Rudhyar was frequently presented.
Cameron-Wolfe continues to expand his Rudhyar repertoire, to include not only additional solo pieces, but also chamber works - for both public performance and recording.
[from John Cage’s 1960 lecture-performance Indeterminacy:
“In Zen they say, ‘If something is boring after two minutes, try it
for four; if still boring, try it for 8, 16, 32, and so on... eventually
one discovers that it’s not boring at all, but very interesting’.”]
In 1973, as a member of the independent interarts collective FIASCO (led by composers Franz Kamin and James Sarmad Brody) Cameron-Wolfe participated in the first “mobile” performance of Satie’s anti-epic Vexations. The one-page piano piece–headed with the instruction that it be played 840 times–was performed in shifts by a team of pianists, on an upright piano in the back of an old pickup truck, being driven through the streets of Bloomington, Indiana.
Responding to a 1981 call by director Suzanne Delehanty for submissions to Soundings, an exhibition of “aural art” (visual arts that sound) mounted by the Neuberger Museum in New York; Cameron-Wolfe offered to perform Vexations solo, as a 24-hour installation. Satie’s work thus stood side by side with that of the FLUXUS group, the instruments of Harry Partch, the sound-sculptures of Francois Baschet, David Tudor’s Rainforest, Alvin Lucier’s Music on a Long Thin Wire, and a stunning Earle Brown/Alexander Calder collaboration. This was to be the first of his four uninterrupted performances and, according to senior New York Times critic John Rockwell, possibly its first true solo realization.2
His 1986 performance took place in Santa Fe as part of a New Mexico Spring Arts Celebration fund-raising event. As the music looped, 24 poets successively contributed to a progressive poem-scroll, 24 painters took their turns on a giant canvas, and dancer Marjorie Malone equaled Cameron-Wolfe’s feat by dancing the entire 24 hours! Greek dancer Maria Vorrias simultaneously performed the entire 24 hours in Athens as a local AIDS-research fundraiser.”
In 1989, he presented Vexations at the Contemporary Arts Museum of Houston with dancer-choreographer Meg Wolfe, amidst the minimalist yarn sculptures of Fred Sandback.3
The fourth, and to Cameron-Wolfe the most memorable, performance came in 1995, at St. Mark’s Church in New York City, as part of “The Remember Project”, a 24-hour benefit sponsored by Dancers Responding to AIDS, featuring dozens of solo and group performances by members of the New York dance community.
[Note: Though not as mechanically repetitive as Vexations, Satie’s “Christian ballet” Uspud relies heavily on repetition, recycling and mutating its six or seven cellular motifs continuously throughout the work’s three Acts. These two compositions are surely among Satie’s most puzzling, controversial, and rarely performed creations.]
When the score appeared in the early 1970s, Cameron-Wolfe realized that it was a composition not likely to be incorporated into the repertoire of concert performers: 20-25 minutes of perpetually slow, modular, repetitive music unlikely to advance a virtuoso career! Research suggested that it may even have been “thrown together” for a meeting with the Paris Opera administration, from sketches accompanying a proposal earlier submitted for consideration.
Was it or was it not a “real” composition? Given that its scenario was likely inspired by Flaubert’s The Temptation of St. Anthony4, it occurred to Cameron-Wolfe that the work would most likely be “legitimized” if offered in a theatrical production.
Thus, in the winter of 1985, he presented the work at Purchase College, choreographed, costumed, and performed by Sam Yip, featuring Leah Goldstein as Mother Church, with lighting and sets by laser-physicist Daniel Kainen, and technical direction by Mark Murray.
At the invitation of pianist-composer Igor Tkachenko he returned to the work, presenting it in Cambridge, Massachussetts at the 1996 festival event “An Erik Satie Entertainment”, in the unstaged version for piano and narrator appearing on this recording. Of this performance, Boston Globe critic Susan Larson wrote: “Narrator Kathryn Philip and pianist Richard Cameron-Wolfe gave it a mesmerizing first performance, teetering between the sublime and the idiotic.”5
Is this a serious metaphysical work in the spirit of Satie’s Rosicrucian/Péladan-inspired titles (e.g., Le Fils des etoiles) or perhaps the quintessential and perhaps only example of “neo-medieval, proto-minimalist dadaism”? Cameron-Wolfe invites the listener to decide.
Produced by: Richard Cameron-Wolfe
Executive Producer: Marc Wolf
Engineer & Additional Production: Jeremy Tressler
Recorded at: Dreamflower Studio, Bronxville NY, February & May 2001
Mastering: Jeremy Tressler
Piano Provided by : Steinway Hall
USPUD English translation prepared by Richard Cameron-Wolfe.
LAMENTO and CORTEGE FUNEBRE published by Durand & Cie., Paris
TETRAGRAM #3 & #8 published by the American Composers Alliance
USPUD published by Editions Salabert, Paris
SCORE EXCERPTS FROM Rudhyar’s Pentagram # 3, Composers Facsimile Edition
Photos of Richard Cameron-Wolfe at the Helene Wurlitzer Foundation, Taos, New Mexico by Tom Collins
Photo of Richard Cameron-Wolfe at the House of Composers, St. Petersburg, Russia by Alexander Spitsyn.
Photos of Dane Rudhyar by Betty Freeman
Richard Cameron-Wolfe would like to thank the following: Ornella Volta, (Artistic Director of the Satie Foundation, Paris) and David Vaughan (US Branch), Bob Gilmore, Leyla Rael Rudhyar, Franz Kamin, James Sarmad Brody, FIASCO, and especially my family, my teachers, and my students.
This recording is dedicated to the Memory of Eya Fechin Rudhyar. 1914-2002
"The love that brought Eya and me together was very beautiful in its depth and peaceful intensity"
These rugged, mystical Rudhyar works from the 20s are reminiscent of Ruggles in their dissonant, elemental power; the early ones, especially "Cortege Funebre", are more perfumed and more French, but still massive and noble. Richard Cameron-Wolfe, a Rudhyar specialist who befriended the composer in the 70s, plays with a big sonority in fortissimos and silken tone in the soft passages. The recording is strong and resonant, as it must be.
Just as radical in its quiet way is Satie's 1892 "Christian ballet” USPUD for narrator and piano, a spare, minimalist quasi-religious work ... admired only by Debussy among major composers. ... Kathryn Philip's raptly understated narration and Cameron-Wolfe's sensitive playing conjure an austere rapture unique to this composer." -AMERICAN RECORD GUIDE, Vol. 67, No. 5: September/October 2004 -Reviewed by Jack Sullivan
"... The two [composers, Rudhyar and Satie] shared contempt for musical academia, choosing instead to pursue their own muses, against the grain. ... The CD is purposely sparse and challenging. This is not background music; you need to think and concentrate on what the notes convey. There is anger and serious reflection; there are pauses and dark corners, but at the end of it you feel a certain peace, and a cleansing seems to have occurred. Rudhyar believed that music was to help humanity evolve, that music has the potential to have a transmuting effect. ...This is not your father's classical music!" -THE TAOS NEWS: TEMPO Magazine, November 4, 2004 -Reviewed by Brandt Legg in his column, "The Hum"
"...offer the Academie d’Underrated, a series of totally gratuitous articles bringing to your attention composers who aren’t visible anywhere on the cultural radar - and SHOULD be.
As it turns out, I’ve been planning for months to begin this feature with Dane Rudhyar (1895-1985), and just when I get the chance, a news peg actually appeared in the form of a new compact disc, along with the advent of an excellent Rudhyar web page. Had Rudhyar continued composing through the Depression, he would doubtless be one of the more famous names in American music; ..."
...his best work seems to be his piano music, especially the series’ of brief works called Pentagrams, Tetragrams, Paeans, and Granites. The music is as tough and granitic as that of Charles Ives or Carl Ruggles, but instead of being melodic or contrapuntal it is an interplay of sonorities that reappear and evolve, impressionistic and atmospheric and yet stern and commanding at the same time.
The new compact disc (Furious Artisans FACD 6087 ..) is a recording of piano music by pianist/composer Richard Cameron-Wolfe, who does justice to Rudhyar’s abrupt and impassioned side. (The disc also includes a rare Erik Satie ballet, Uspud, and one of Cameron-Wolfe’s signal achievements is that he has performed Satie’s Vexations, a 24-hour repetitive work, by himself rather than as part of the usual team of pianists.) Cameron-Wolfe includes two previously unrecorded early Rudhyar works from his Parisian period, Lamento (1913) and Cortege Funebre (1914), dark, original, and not as Debussyan as you’d expect from the fact that the young avant-gardist had written his first book on Debussy in 1913. The other Rudhyar works are Tetragrams Nos. 3 and 8, from the late 1920s, which as far as I know are also world premiere recordings. This is absolutely top-shelf Rudhyar, taut, mystical, thoughtfully explosive." -ArtsJournal.com: PostClassic: ACADEMIE D’UNDERRATED: DANE RUDHYAR December 29, 2003 -Reviewed by Kyle Gann
... The first Rudhyar to appear since the CRI reissue of William Masselos' piano disc back in the 80s! Anyone interested in the circle of composers influenced by Scriabin, astrology and various types of mysticism will want to have these two Tetragrams (1927 and 1928), relatively short, four movement works in which the sonorities of the piano are as important as the darkly luminous, highly chromatic music itself. The Lamento and funeral march are earlier pieces, dating from the composer's years in his native Paris (1913 and 1914), but his mature personality already is evident. One of the most unjustly forgotten composers in the history of the American avant-garde! Satie's "Christian ballet" dates from 1892, at the end of his brief involvement as "official composer" to the Ordre de la Rose-Croix. Lasting 34 minutes in this performance, it is, as one would expect, slow, serene and, then, slower and more serene (a quote in the notes - apparently from a Boston Globe review of a 1996 performance by these artists - can't be passed up: "neo-medieval, proto-minimalist dadaism"!)." -RECORDS INTERNATIONAL
"First, the pianism, understanding, and sensitivity that Richard Cameron-Wolfe brings to this repertoire is extraordinary. Second, the repertoire itself is equally remarkable. Dane Rudhyar is still amazingly obscure to many music lovers, yet if you are attracted to the piano music of Scriabin, this recording must become part of your library. And the quirky Satie is worth many, many listenings -- each will provide subtle new surprises. Cameron-Wolfe finds the essence of both." -Leroy Lupine, Amazon.com: Customer Reviews (2004-05)
"Paris X, Musica Obscura is Dane Rudhyar and Eric Satie's revolutionary music performed by contemporary pianist and composer Richard Cameron-Wolfe, once mentored by Rudhyar. Paris X is musical territory on the cutting edge of Western sensibilities and hearing. Both Rudhyar and Satie created musical compositions which turned away from the exclusively European musical tradition. Rudhyar especially explored sounds which he felt the modern ear no longer heard, or heard primarily as dissonance. He felt the development of music was inextricably linked to human consciousness, and that dissonant harmonies needed to be integrated into human hearing. Cameron-Wolfe, sensitive to Rudhyar's and Satie's musical notions and imagination, allows us passage into compelling auditory landscapes of sound and soul. He brings delicacy and depth to this exciting, ear-opening music." -D. McKinstry-Edwards, Amazon.com: Customer Reviews (2004-05)