Thursday, September 1, 2011

Starkland's new Keeril Makan "Target" CD Now Available at Amazon, iTunes, more

Starkland has released Keeril Makan’s “Target” CD, which is now available at: Amazon, CD Baby, and iTunes. (You can hear previews at both iTunes and CD Baby).

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Makan has been described as “an arrestingly gifted young American composer” by The New Yorker, and has already received some impressive commissions, including the Kronos Quartet, Carnegie Hall, Bang on a Can All-Stars, American Composers Orchestra, and the Other Minds Festival. The CD has premiere recordings of four works: 2, Zones d’accord, Target, and Resonance Alloy.

At New Music Box, Alexandra Gardner comments that the music gives "the ears a workout with timbral complexity drawn from a remarkably spare amount of material that sneaks up and delivers a whollop of powerful emotional content," adding "the recording is of excellent quality."

At Sequenza21, Jay Batzner writes, “The quartet of pieces on Target serve as excellent examples of what makes Makan’s compositions approachable and mesmerizing... Makan makes what should be simple and mundane captivating and engrossing.”

At The Glass, Chris McGovern writes, “Keeril Makan is definitely a composer that is destined for greatness, and this recording is proof of that.”

David Lang, co-founder of the Bang on a Can festival and a Pulitzer-winning composer, wrote the CD’s Introduction. He remarks that when he first heard Makan’s music he was “blown away [by works] so strong and so smart.”

The title piece emerged from Makan’s participation in the John Harbison/Dawn Upshaw Workshop for Composers and Singers. Commissioned by Carnegie Hall, Makan collaborated with poet Jena Osman to create Target for soprano and chamber ensemble. Regarding Target’s premiere at Carnegie Hall, The New York Times observed:
“‘Target,’ is a moody, ruminative and volatile setting of a text assembled from poems by Jena Osman and phrases taken from leaflets dropped over Afghanistan in the wake of Sept. 11, scored for mezzo-soprano and four instrumentalists, including a percussionist. It is meant as a stinging political commentary on American military intervention abroad. Mr. Makan responded to the earthy, rich and poignant qualities of Ms. Rubin's voice by writing music thick with sliding, moaning figurations for the voice and all the instruments… she gave a courageous performance of difficult music that clearly speaks to her.”
Lang attended the premiere of the “muscular and terrifying” Target, “a scary, aggressive juggernaut of invention.” He remarks that the disturbing text captures “a kind of violent, psychological damage that takes place deep beneath the surface layer of ordinary words.” The CD’s performance features Rubin and the California E.A.R.Unit.

The CD opens with 2, performed by the Either/Or duo of percussionist David Shively and Ethel violinist Jennifer Choi. 20th Century Music writes, “This was a masterful piece, one of the best heard this year. Far from music in the abstract, 2 is a work-it-out-in-the-raw-sounds kind of piece that revels in its sonic splendors.”

Zones d’accord is performed on the CD by Alex Waterman from Either/Or. Sequenza21 comments, “The virtuosity of Waterman’s right hand is truly stunning… [and he]draws out Makan’s ecstatic emotional arc throughout the performance.”

The CD ends with Resonance Alloy (commissioned by Other Minds), recorded by percussionist David Shively in an astonishing, single, unedited performance of the 29 minute work.

Lang concludes that “the emotionality of it all, the drama, the depth of feeling, percolating way down deep, never boiling over and yet never going away” is “strangely powerful, and all his own.”

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Tom Steenland and Keeril Makan (and Louis Andriessen)

All the original recordings were made at high-resolution (24-bit,48k/88.2k sampling) audiophile standards. The three non-vocal works were recorded by the Grammy-winning Silas Brown.

Makan’s only other CD, "In Sound" (Tzadik), received impressive reviews: “Top 10 CDs for 2008” (New Music Box); “An amazing disc” (Sequenza21); “frontiers are crossed in this music” (American Record Guide).