ELLIOTT SHARP : recent compositions
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STORM OF THE EYE - Commissioned by violinist Hilary Hahn. One of the 27 pieces on her Grammy-winning album, "In 27 Pieces: the Hilary Hahn Encores".
PERSISTENCE OF VISION - premiered April 2012 as part of the Sonic Visions festival, in Reutlingen, Germany. For chamber orchestra and video, with vidoartist Janene Higgins
ONEIRIKA - commissioned by MaerzMusik Festival, Berlin for Zeitkratzer, March 2012
CORIOLIS EFFECT - for chamber orchestra, performed by Alarm Will Sound at Zankel Hall, NYC, March 2012. [First composed in 1998 for the Berlin ensemble Zeitkratzer]
POINTS & FIELDS - commissioned by Joel Sachs for the New Juilliard Ensemble and premiered by them at the Peter Jay Sharp hall in 2009.
"Mr. Sharp often writes in combinations of classical and vernacular styles, and for ensembles with rock instrumentation. "Points and Fields," for chamber orchestra, shows a different if not necessarily more conventional side of his work. Much of the action - light but detailed percussion figures, darting string and woodwind lines - is woven through a shimmering, harmonically nebulous chord that splinters into lively rhythmic counterpoint in the work's final moments."
- Allan Kozinn, NY TIMES
ON CORLEAR'S HOOK - Commissioned and premiered in 2007 by the Radio-Sinfonie Frankfurt at the Frankfurt Klangbiennale
PROOF OF ERDOS Commissioned by the WestDeutsch Rundfunk for Wittener Tages Für Neue KammerMusik, Witten, Germany, May 2006 and premiered by the Ensemble Resonanz conducted by Sian Edwards.
CALLING - Commissioned and premiered in 2002 by the Radio-Sinfonie Frankfurt at the opening concert of the Darmstadt Ferienkürse für Neue Musik
RACING HEARTS - Premiered in 1998 by the Radio-Sinfonie Frankfurt at the Hessischer Rundfunk Sendesaal
PORT BOU - Premiered at Issue Project Room, Brooklyn, 2014. The opera depicts the final moments of philosopher Walter Benjamin’s life in Port Bou at the French-Spanish border as he flees Nazi-occupied France. Starring bass/baritone Nicholas Isherwood.
ABOUT US - Written, composed, and directed by Sharp for a cast of all-teenage performers and and orchestral music performed by the Orchestra of the Bayerische Staatsoper as well pre-recorded electronic sounds. Commissioned by the Bayerische Staatsoper for their Pavillon summer concert series and premiered in July 2010.
BINIBON - With libretto by noted science-fiction author Jack Womack, this opera is a chronicle of both a murder and the transformation of the East Village in the early 1980's. Binibon has been released as a radioplay by Henceforth Records with extensive info here.
THE BOREAL - Commissioned by the West-Deutsch Rundfunk and premiered by the incredible JACK Quartet at the 2009 Witten Festival of Chamber Music. In addition to the use of many of Sharp's signature sounds and techniques, this composition also features the "spring bow" and the "ballchain bow", both subtle and powerful sound-generating approaches.
"Elliott Sharp's piece from 2009, "The Boreal", is simultaneously similar and very different.
Like Xenakis, he pushes a lot of noisy, dissonant intervals against each other. He also has developed alternate "bows" for the piece, including ones made with metal springs. Structurally, it alternates between using the bow in a broad range of standard techniques, and rubbing the springs - and chains, too - against the strings, producing sounds that I have truly never heard, via any means or in any situation.
Much of it sounds like a scream traversing a wind tunnel, the aural sense of great energy and color shimmering in space, like the atmospheric event from which Sharp gets his title. The writing seems careful, put together with an excellent sense of time and proportion, and within its own language quite varied, always interesting and powerful. Like the aurora borealis, Sharp has created an object that flows and turns in front of us, but at some distance. In Philharmonic Hall, JACK Quartet's performance was intense but also warm and involving, more satisfying even than their fine recording of an earlier version from the 2009 Wittener Tage für neue Kammermusik.
This is a great piece, a notable signpost in the road of experimental music that parallels the standard classical tradition." George Grella, SEEN AND HEARD INTERNATIONAL
OCCAM'S RAZOR - This double quartet for JACK and Sirius quartets was commissioned by Issue Project Room for Sharp's 60th Birthday Marathon in March 2011.
"If "Occam's Razor" was simple, it wasn't obvious: For example, it wasn't a five-note composition (the violin, viola, and cello together having five open-string notes: C, G, D, A, and E), and the layers of aural antiphony that arose and flowed between the quartets were anything but simple, as textural and psychoacoustical impressions flooded the mind, and diverse musical meme fragments swirled around the majestic hall. It was, however, most elegant, a tour de force of sonic splendor, and quite possibly Sharp's most sophisticated work to date...
Describing "Occam's Razor," and indeed much experimental music, is challenging, as terms like atonal, atmospheric, sinusoidal, and dissonant fall far short. So, while the piece wasn't beautiful in the "perfect fifths" sense of tuned strings, mellifluous melody, and major-key harmony, it was absolutely beautiful in Sharp's cataphonic universe of fractal geometry and chaos theory. Here, we define beauty simply as something not previously experienced, and we crave innovative incomprehensibility, abstract ineffability, and trompe l'esprit (fool the mind) prestidigitation, a hounding half-step behind G-d."
David St. Lascaux, BROOKLYN RAIL
Chamber Groups and Soloists
STRING QUARTET - Compositions include Tessalaltion Row (1986), Digital (1986), Hammer Anvil Stirrup (1988), Shape Shifters (1990), Twistmap (1990), X-Topia (1994), Lumen (1996), Dispersion of Seeds (2003), 95 For EC From E# (for Elliott Carter (2004), Light In Fog (2006), Eye In The Sky (2006), Seize Seas Seeth Seen (2008), Homage James Tenney (2008).
L'ESCALIER DU CHANT - Songs for the Olaf Nicolai installation at Pinakotheca, Munich 2011. Songs by Sharp include: Ballad of Bradley Manning, My Gun, Dusts & Ashes, Nakba Day, Judgment
STORM OF THE EYE - For violin and piano, commissioned by violinist Hilary Hahn
AMYGDALA - commissioned by Marco Cappelli and recorded by him on the Mode CD "Extreme Guitar Project." Score for classical guitar available from Edition Peters
HOMAGE LEROY JENKINS - For violin, clarinet, and piano. Commissioned by Joel Sachs for the Juilliard musicians and premiered by them at the MOMA Summergarden in 2008.
OVOXXOVO - For choir. commissioned by Ostrava Music Days and premiered there in 2009
OLIGOSONO - commissioned by Jenny Lin and premiered by her in 2005 at the Italian Academy in NYC. This 20' composition is a tour-de-force of new sounds for the piano.
SUBERREBUS - also commissioned by Jenny Lin in 2005 and recorded for her Koch CD The Eleventh Finger and performed at the Corcoran Gallery in Washington, DC. Suberrebus, 11' in duration, is originally intended to be performed with live computer processing or with an accompanying soundfile but may also be performed alone and acoustically.