Philomel, Phonemena, Post-Partitions, Reflections
(Bethany Beardslee, Jerry Kuderna, et al.
Milton Babbitt is one of the first major U.S.-born academic composers, and he helped found the enormously influential Electronic Music Center of Columbia-Princeton Universities. His 1964 piece, Philomel, is a pivotal work for Babbitt--and for avant-garde New Music. It combines Bethany Beardslee's wavering, halting soprano with ample helpings of synthesized electronics. Blipping emanations dot Beardslee's vocal testament, and Babbitt explores an astonishing range of what electronics can do, either in duet with a voice or in solo contexts. Rounding out this collection are equally key pieces examining ways that piano can interact with voice and synthesized tape, as well as pieces that further push the envelope on the soprano voice. (review by Andrew Bartlett)