In many ways, this album represents the debut recording of ACME, American Contemporary Music Ensemble. The collection of pieces here was chosen for very pure and simple reasons; each work is a piece we love and to which we feel quite intimately connected. The performance of this music is an expression of affection and closeness, not just to each other as performers, but also to the composer who wrote it. Three of the four composers featured are also performers in ACME. It is music that feels very close.
The privilege of performing this music for others has shaped each of us individually and as an ensemble, and these pieces occupy a good part of the music ACME has performed as concert music. It was also chosen for this album, to exist on recorded media, because it is work that should exist in other scenarios beyond the concert experience: a long, slow walk; a frenetic commute; a late evening at home…
This curated selection of pieces comes from different but rhyming sonic worlds and is some of the music we have grown to love the most in this varied and fast-changing world.
—Clarice Jensen, ACME Cellist & Artistic Director
Total time: 01:00:27
|Original Recording Format|
Legacy Audio speakers
Sono Luminus Studios, Boyce, Virginia
|Recording Type & Bit Rate||
|Release Date||March 3, 2017|
“American modernist Charles Ives liked to wake up at 4 or 5 in the morning, garden in his potato patch, and play through some of Bach’s Well-Tempered Clavier. (How’s that for a little early morning exercise?)
Ives’ idiosyncratic early morning regimen was the inspiration behind composer-pianist Timo Andres’ Thrive on Routine, the title track of a new album by the American Contemporary Music Ensemble (ACME). A flexible music collective comprised of over 20 musicians (Andres among them), ACME is an ensemble known for championing masterworks of the 20th and 21st centuries. Their newest album is no exception: Andres finds himself in good company among works by John Luther Adams and fellow ACME members Caroline Shaw and Caleb Burhans.
Andres’ “Thrive on Routine” was, in fact, first commissioned and premiered by the ACME string quartet in 2009. Structured in four short, continuous movements, the piece offers abstract imitations of Ives’ Bach-and-potatoes routine, evoking a rustic alarm jingle, the pastoral drone of the potato patch, and a folk-infused passacaglia. The earthy, textured landscapes come to life under the fingers of violinists Yuki Numata Resnick and Ben Russell, violist Caleb Burhans, and cellist Clarice Jensen.
The work is followed by two similarly introspective compositions by Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Caroline Shaw. The first is her solo cello suite “in manus tuas,” inspired by a 16th-century motet by Thomas Tallis and performed by ACME Artistic Director Clarice Jensen. Shaw’s composition makes the cello sing, its strings echoing like sacred choral music against a serenely silent cathedral.
Shaw’s second work, the achingly gorgeous “Gustave le Gray” for solo piano, features Timo Andres as the performer. Inspired by Frédéric Chopin’s Op. 17 A Minor Mazurka, Shaw maintains the poignant, long-breathed melodies but forgoes the trademark Chopin ornamentations. The resulting music plays like an improvisation on Chopin, transforming phrases of the original mazurka as it blossoms ever outward into new chromatic melodies and characters.
The album closes with John Luther Adams’ breathtakingly beautiful “In a Treeless Place, Only Snow,” featuring the ACME string quartet along with Andres on piano, Peter Dugan on celesta, and Chris Thompson and Chihiro Shibayama on vibraphones. Atmospheric melodies, delicately detailed textures, and enchanting celesta embellishments bring this immersive sonic landscape to life, evoking the extraordinary vastness of the natural world and the overwhelming sense of awe that comes with simply being in its presence.
Because whether it’s a potato patch or a snowy mountainside, there’s beautiful music to be found all around us—sometimes we just need to step out of our routine.”
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