George Crumb: Complete Crumb Edition, Vol. 12

George Crumb: Complete Crumb Edition, Vol. 12

by International Contemporary EnsembleInternational Contemporary Ensemble


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George Crumb's 80th birthday was celebrated in October 2009; building up to that event was Bridge Records, which carefully planned to release a complete recorded edition of Crumb's music, in composer-supervised recordings, in 13 volumes to reach fruition with volume number 13 in connection with the big event. This was the penultimate issue, George Crumb Complete Edition, Vol. 12, and it pairs the composer with the exciting young new music ensemble International Contemporary Ensemble (ICE). Though coming late in the overall project, ICE is not left with mere table scraps among Crumb's oeuvre; this disc contains "Eleven Echoes of Autumn" (1966) and "Vox Balaenae" (aka, Voice of the Whale; 1971), two of his most famous and often performed works. ICE has worked with Crumb for years on perfecting its interpretation of these pieces, and perhaps the time finally became right. Certainly these are very polished and accomplished readings, recorded with spaciousness and depth, yet pinpoint precision by Bridge. "Eleven Echoes of Autumn" is one of Crumb's landmark creations and is regarded by the composer as his most difficult to perform; it places in the earlier end of his canon and caught on so quickly it was recorded twice even before the famous first recording of "Ancient Voices of Children" (1970), with Jan DeGaetani, was made. The early recordings were surprisingly good, but the high level of difficulty involved in realizing the work was a little outside the mainstream at the time and that is a contributing factor in the violence of those old recordings. What is remarkable about the ICE "Eleven Echoes of Autumn" is that it is such a controlled, inherently musical performance of this work; one hesitates to pun and use the word "cool," but this is the most crystalline, meticulous, and therefore evocative performance that this famous work has ever had. It confirms that performance technique has evolved in the four decades that have passed since "Eleven Echoes of Autumn" made its first bow; not to negate what the early advocates of Crumb's music achieved, but that the requirements of his music played a role in moving such developments forward. Similar attention is paid to "Dream Sequence" (1976), a lesser known gem that is one of the loveliest entries in Crumb's whole body of work; while its subtitle, "Images II," relates this piece to "Black Angels," ICE's performance draws a parallel to "Eleven Echoes of Autumn." "The Sleeper" (1984) also appeared on Bridge's Crumb Edition, Vol. 11, in a recording made long ago by Crumb's great advocate, the late soprano DeGaetani. Here it is given in a fresh spin as sung by ICE's Jamie van Eyck. Another fine spotlight for a member within ICE is pianist Jacob Greenberg's turn on Crumb's early "Five Pieces for Piano" (1962). With "Vox Balaenae," Bridge is scrupulous in its production by balancing this wholly amplified piece at a level a bit louder than the rest of the album, preserving a startling contrast with the often very quiet material found elsewhere in this gathering. Bridge's George Crumb Complete Edition, Vol. 12, well exceeds the expectation of being a mere volume within a larger collection and is one of the most singular and cohesive entries in what has proven an outstanding series overall.

Product Details

Release Date: 09/09/2008
Label: Bridge
UPC: 0090404926129
catalogNumber: 9261


  1. Eleven Echoes of Autumn (Echoes I), for alto flute, clarinet, violin & piano
  2. The Sleeper, for soprano & piano
  3. Vox Balaenae, for 3 masked players: electric flute, electric cello & electric piano
  4. Pieces (5), for piano
  5. Dream Sequence (Images II), for violin, cello, piano, percussion & and off-stage glass harmonica (two players)

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