2LP (180 Gram)
Original Artwork by Christian Wolff
Numbered edition of 25 ex.
Signed by the Artist
- Short Suite (2:13) (1950) (Never before published or recorded)
- Four Small Duos (2:01) (1950) (Never before published or recorded)
- Six Melodies Variation (3:30) (1993)
- Duo for violins (6:06) (1950)
- Small Duos for Violinists (15:05) (2021) (World Premiere, composed and recorded for Astres d’Or)
- Bread and Roses (8:32) (1976)
- Violin Duo For Petr (6:12) (2011)
- The Death of Mother Jones (13:54) (1977)
All music composed by Christian Wolff.
Performers: Conrad Harris, Pauline Kim Harris
Christian Wolff (1934) studied piano with Grete Sultan and, briefly, composition with John Cage. Mostly he is self-taught as a composer. He has also been active as an improviser, with, among others, Takehisa Kosugi, Christian Marclay, Ikue Mori, Eddie Prevost, Keith Rowe, and Steve Lacy. He was part of the so-called New York School (with Cage, Feldman, David Tudor and Earle Brown), and close to Frederic Rzewski and Cornelius Cardew. He was long active with Merce Cunningham and his dance company. His music currently some 270 items, is published by C. F. Peters and much of it is recorded on over 70 CDs.
He has taught at Harvard, in Classics (Greek and Latin), and at Dartmouth, in the Classics, Comparative Literature and Music departments.
Conrad Harris has performed new works for violin at Ostrava Days, Darmstadt Ferrienkürse für Neue Musik, Gulbenkian Encounters of New Music, Radio France, Warsaw Autumn, and New York’s Sonic Boom Festival. In addition to being a member of the Flux Quartet and violin duo String Noise, he is concertmaster/soloist with the S.E.M. Orchestra, Ostravska Banda, STX Ensemble, and the Ostravska Banda, Wordless Music Orchestra, and Ensemble LPR. He has performed and recorded with such artists as Elliott Sharp, Robert Ashley, Alvin Lucier, David Behrman, “Blue” Gene Tyranny, Jean-Claude Risset, Johan Da Saram, and Tiny Tim. His recording of the Lejaren Hiller Violin Sonatas with pianist Joseph Kubera was recently released on New World Records. He has also recorded for Asphodel, Vandenburg, CRI, and Vinyl Retentive Records.
Pauline Kim Harris aka PK or Pauline Kim is a GRAMMY™-nominated violinist and composer. The youngest student to have ever been accepted into the studio of legendary violinist Jascha Heifetz, she has appeared throughout the US, Canada, Europe, Asia and Australia as soloist, collaborator and music director. Known for her work with classical avant-punk violin duo, String Noise, she has toured extensively with Orpheus Chamber Orchestra and continues to collaborate with leading new music ensembles in New York City. Pauline Kim was the first Music Director for the Bill T. Jones/ Arnie Zane Dance Company and has been the featured artist for choreographers David Parker and Pam Tanowitz. Pauline’s debut album, Heroine — a reimagining of the Bach Chaconne and Ockeghem’s Deo Gratias was released on Sono Luminus with worldwide distribution in September of 2019.
Duo for 2 violins (1950) is the first composition made after I started my few composition lessons with John Cage. He had me learn his structural procedure of systematized and fixed arithmetical proportions (“rhythmic structure”) and make single line melodies using no more than 5 or so pitches. That notion of using quite limited material to focus with clear attention probably led to my idea of making pieces with very small numbers of pitches (3 or 4), absolute pitches, no octave transpositions. I thought that, for careful listening, the actual resulting music was quite various. Because of my interest at the time in dissonance, in this piece the three pitches are adjacent D, Eb, E natural (with no octave transpositions).
Short Suite and Four Small Duos (both 1950) were made shortly after in the same way, but somehow were forgotten till quite recently when I was putting together my archive. This is their first recording (and performance).
Six Melodies Variation (1993) was made at the request of the violinist Roger Zahab for a collective tribute, by a number of composers, after John Cage’s 70th birthday. It uses material from Cage’s 1949 violin and piano piece Six Melodies, and from the 18th century United States composer William Billings whose work Cage was using at the time in his “cheap imitation” pieces.
Violin Duo for Petr (2011) was made for Petr Kotik’s 70th birthday and for String Noise. The composition, in the way I now work, is “free”, that is, I just start and he see where things go, not concerned with structural shapes or continuities except as they arise, so as if improvising, though I use various micro systems for pitch and some rhythmic procedures, and sometimes reconfigure notation, for instance specifying for the players, not pitches but which strings of the violin they play and whether the string is open or fingered (freely) or made to sound a (free) harmonic.
Small Duos for Violinists (2021) were made for Pauline Kim and Conrad Harris (String Noise), in part for this recording, so there might be something new. There are 16 small pieces, each made as described for Violin Duo for Petr, but now with a focus on a series with small structural units, each making somewhat different moves as they follow one another, and sometimes also having internal differences. Rhythms are sometimes free with free coordination, each player proceeding independently and “by ear”. There’s counterpoint. One duo is an hommage to Rameau’s sometimes crazy musical energy. Another refers to a Satie piece. In the last duo the duration of sounds is determined by how long they take to reach silence (natural resonance takes the place of measured counting).
The two solo violin pieces. Bread and Roses and The Death of Mother Jones were written in 1976 and 1977, the first for Malcom Goldstein, the second as a kind of follow-up, hoping for a performer willing to deal with the deliberately difficult technical demands of playing (there have been three performers I know of, all of them women). Both pieces are free variations on the songs that provide the titles. Arrangements of them begin the music. Bread and Roses was a song made in the early 20th century on the occasion of a famous strike of women mill workers in Lawrence, Massachusetts, USA., which was successful. Mother Jones was one of the best known labor activists of the early 20th century in the U.S. The song emerged anonymously shortly after her death at age 100. These two pieces are among a group variously based on traditional political music that I made around this time, wanting to bring an explicit political element into my music.
Artwork by Christian Wolff (Dates 2006, 2007)
Pencil on Paper