Steven Ricks Assemblage Chamber Various Artists - Steven Ricks
- Steven Ricks (b. 1969): Heavy with Sonata:
- 1Ricks: Heavy with Sonata: I. Plotting Our Next (Dance) Move01:44
- 2Ricks: Heavy with Sonata: Ii. Sarah’s Gigabit Broadband04:09
- 3Ricks: Heavy with Sonata: Iii. I’ll Amend the Current Trend05:30
- Reconstructing the Lost Improvisations of Aldo Pilestri (1683–1727):
- 4Ricks: Reconstructing the Lost Improvisations of Aldo Pilestri (1683–1727)14:18
- Piece for Mixed Quartet:
- 5Ricks: Piece for Mixed Quartet: I. Dance of Spheres03:56
- 6Ricks: Piece for Mixed Quartet: Ii. Baroque Assemblage03:54
- Assemblage Chamber:
- 7Ricks: Assemblage Chamber12:22
Info for Steven Ricks Assemblage Chamber
Composer Steven Ricks' Assemblage Chamber features three chamber works that incorporate elements of the Baroque into Ricks' glitchy, collage oriented textures. An eclectic artist who is active in electronic music and free improvisation in addition to through-composed acoustic work, Ricks filters Baroque influences through his omnivorous style, responding at the end of the recording with an electronic reaction piece, a reckoning with incorporating older material from the vantage point of 2022. Assemblage Chamber features performances by counter)induction, the NOVA Chamber Players, Aubrey Woods, Alex Woods, and Jason Hardink.
Deconstruction and fragmentation are core components of composer Steven Ricks’ work. On a previous New Focus Recordings release from 2015, Young American Inventions (FCR158), Ricks processed the detritus of the American aural landscape through his own modernist lens, designing glitchy electronic and ensemble textures, peppering them with quotes from disparate sources like Steely Dan, Steve Reich, and Milton Babbitt, and mixing them with shards of drum samples and automated call center style voices. On Assemblage Chamber, Ricks turns to the past, mining the juxtapositions, improvisatory spirit, and rich rhetorical framework of the Baroque. Ricks’ deconstructive impulse flowers and perhaps inverts itself in this context, extrapolating possibilities instead of picking them apart. With wit and a deft compositional hand, Ricks creates three ensemble works, two featuring the harpsichord, that use Baroque conventions as a springboard to reveal a prismatic version of its characteristic tropes. The album closes with the electronic title track, a piece that functions as a kind of reconciliation between Ricks’ journey into the musical past and an artistic voice more familiar to those who know his work.
The French overture style repeated dotted rhythms that open Heavy with Sonata are subtly subverted as soon the harmonic language begins to unfold. Ricks migrates towards chord voicings which, while still connected by contrapuntal voice leading, stretch beyond Bachian harmonic function to a lush, open harmonic world. The grandeur of the processional phrases is momentarily shattered by chromatic outbursts, interrupted by the chaos of contemporary harmonic possibilities. The second movement unfolds in moto perpetuo style, featuring repeated, uneven loops that allude to the developmental strategy of fortspinnung. The third movement, “I’ll Amend the Current Trend,” opens with a syncopated passage that cycles through triadic areas, almost as if to check the tuning of the keyboard, while the strings pluck and poke in the background, as if to imitate the harpsichord’s dry manner of sound production.
Piece for Mixed Quartet also features harpsichord with a string ensemble, but finds Ricks in a decidedly more methodical mode. “Dance of Spheres” places the harpsichord and ensemble in direct dialogue, with the strings offering a range of responsive material to a series of cubist reorganizations of a primary harmonic progression. The two groups become increasingly fused over the course of the movement before they begin to move as one integrated machine. “Baroque Assemblage” opens with hints of a broken phrase that we have not yet heard – Ricks reveals it momentarily, a Vivaldi-esque ritornello of sequential arpeggios. But the movement retreats to off-kilter, unsteady repetitive figures interrupted by brief soloistic gestures in each instrument. In contrast to Heavy with Sonata’s seamless stylistic transitions, Piece for Mixed Quartet utilizes Baroque allusions as one component of a collage of contrasting elements.
Reconstructing the Lost Improvisations of Aldo Pilestri also vacillates between overt references to the Baroque and organic, mechanistic textures. The element of improvisation opens up an additional parameter, referencing its importance in the music of the 18th century. An introduction explores irregular repetitions of rhythmic motives within the unusual instrumentation (guitar, bass clarinet, string trio). The guitar then improvises over an uneven pizzicato background figure, joined shortly by the violin, facilitating a structural transition. Two reflective guitar cadenzas alternate between harmonics and rolled chords, providing soliloquies that reflect on the trajectory of the piece. We hear shades of the syncopated material from “I’ll Amend the Current Trend” re-orchestrated to integrate the anachronistic guitar and bass clarinet, before a tongue in cheek quotation of Vivaldi’s Four Seasons takes aim at one of the Baroque’s sacred cows. A driving, intertwined final section slowly disintegrates into pops, plucks, and snaps, settling into a vamp for an improvised coda between prepared guitar and non-pitched sounds in the strings.
In the final track, Assemblage Chamber, Ricks returns to the soundworld of Young American Inventions to take stock and reconcile with his foray into older aesthetics. Snippets of material from the earlier pieces and improvised fragments are processed and interwoven inside an electronic web that meditates on the music that came before. In this way, the title track is a reflection on the album as a whole, but also a debrief on a repertoire and tradition that is constantly being reexamined and reconsidered. By recontextualizing his aesthetic time travels in the final track, Ricks reclaims something of the adventurous spirit of the Baroque itself that is no longer located in the musical materials of the period, reminding us that at one time, everything old was brand new. – Dan Lippel
Aubrey Woods, violin
Alex Woods, violin
Jason Hardink, piano
Daniel Lippel, guitar
Miranda Cuckson, violin
Jessica Meyer, violin
Caleb van der Swaagh, cello
Benjamin Fingland, clarinet
NOVA Chamber Music Players
rise as a professional violinist vividly demonstrates the versatility that is the sine qua non for twenty-first century musicians. Her artistic leadership and excellence as concertmaster for Ballet West are consistently on display at the Capitol, Rose Wagner, and Eccles theatres in Salt Lake City. She frequently performs with the Utah Symphony Orchestra. She appeared for several years with the Orchestra at Temple Square in weekly worldwide broadcasts and on recordings with the Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square and notable soloists, including Bryn Terfel and Renee Fleming. Aubrey is equally in demand as a studio recording artist for movies, television, and in backing tracks for many popular artists. Her performances as a chamber musician include appearances with NOVA, Intermezzo, the Park City Chamber Music Series and, on the Baroque violin, with New York Baroque Incorporated, the Sebastians, and Musica Angelica. She may often be heard in company with her husband, Alexander Woods, as the Woodmusick Duo. Aubrey holds the Master of Music degree from Brigham Young University where she teaches as an adjunct faculty member. On this recording, she plays a violin made by Enrico Marchetti (1884).
is a “showstopping” (New York Times) violinist, baroque violinist, and violist, known for his “deft, sensitive” (New York Times) playing and his “beautiful tone” (Early Music America Magazine). He has performed with groups such as New York Baroque Incorporated (NYBI), the Helicon Foundation, the Sebastians, the Talea Ensemble, the Orchestra of St. Luke’s (New York), and the Utah Symphony. A dual Canadian/American citizen, Alex’s international career has led him to perform at the Mostly Mozart Festival, Lincoln Center Festival, Festival Pablo Casals, Darmstadt Institute, Festival Wien Modern, and many others. A prolific and critically acclaimed recording artist, Alex’s work may be heard on the MSR Clas- sics, Acis, Tzadik, Bridge, and Tantara record labels. His performances and recordings have been featured on stations such as BBC Radio 3 (United Kingdom) and WQXR (New York). He frequently collaborates with his wife, Ballet West Orchestra concertmaster Aubrey Woods as the Woodsmusick Duo, and with his father, Rex Woods, Professor of Piano Emeritus at the University of Arizona. Alex is a member of the faculty at Brigham Young University, a member of the faculty ensemble the Deseret String Quartet, as well as the founder and director of the BYU Baroque Ensemble, an early music chamber orchestra performing on original instruments created by the Violin Making School of America. Alex studied at Yale University, Manhattan School of Music, and the University of Arizona. When he is not performing or teaching, Alex loves being at home with his wife, Aubrey, and their four boys.
is a fearless interpreter of large-scale piano works both modern and historical. His recent debut at Weill Recital Hall was lauded for its audacious programming and pianism demonstrating “abandon and remarkable clarity” and a “capacity for tenderness and grace” (Anthony Tommasini, New York Times). His repertoire includes Michael Hersch’s The Vanishing Pavilions, Olivier Messiaen’s Vingt Regards sur l’Enfant-Jésus, the Liszt Transcendental Etudes paired with the Boulez Notations, and Wolfgang Rihm’s Klavierstücke, all of which he performs from memory. Recent performances include his debut at the Cabrillo Festival of Contemporary Music as soloist in the North American premiere of Gerald Barry’s Piano Concerto. Much sought after as a chamber musician, Mr. Hardink has collaborated in recital with violinists Augustin Hadelich, Nicola Benedetti, and Phillip Setzer. He is performing Messiaen’s Des Canyons aux étoiles . . . with the Utah Symphony and Music Director Thierry Fischer, a work they will record for the Hyperion label, as well as the world premieres of four new solo piano works commemorating the centenary of the Charles E. Ives Concord Sonata. Commissioned composers include Jason Eckardt, Anthony R. Green, Inés Thiebaut, and Steve Roens.
In its twenty years of virtuosic performances and daring programming, the composer/performer collective counter)induction has established itself as a force of excellence in contemporary music. Hailed by The New York Times for its “fiery ensemble virtuosity” and for its “first-rate performances” by The Washington Post, c)i has given critically-acclaimed performances at Miller Theatre, Merkin Concert Hall, the Philadelphia Chamber Music Society, Music at the Anthology, and the George Washington University. Since emerging in 1998 from a series of collaborations between composers at the University of Pennsylvania and performers at the Juilliard School, counter)induction has premiered numerous pieces by both established and emerging American composers; including Eric Moe, Suzanne Sorkin, Ursula Mamlok, and Lee Hyla. c)i has also widely promoted the music of international composers including Jukka Tiensuu, Gilbert Amy, Dai Fujikura, Diego Tedesco, and Elena Mendoza. Since its inception, c)i’s mission has been straightforward: world-class performances of contemporary chamber music, without hype and without agenda other than a complete commitment to the most compelling music of our day.
called a "modern guitar polymath (Guitar Review)" and an "exciting soloist" (NY Times) is active as a soloist, chamber musician, and recording artist. He has been the guitarist for the International Contemporary Ensemble (ICE) since 2005 and new music quartet Flexible Music since 2003. Recent performance highlights include recitals at Sinus Ton Festival (Germany), University of Texas at San Antonio, MOCA Cleveland, Center for New Music in San Francisco, and chamber performances at the Macau Music Festival (China), Sibelius Academy (Finland), Cologne's Acht Brücken Festival (Germany), and the Mostly Mozart Festival at Lincoln Center. He has appeared as a guest with the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra and New York New Music Ensemble, among others, and recorded for Kairos, Bridge, Albany, Starkland, Centaur, and Fat Cat.
(b. 1969) is described in BBC Music Magazine as a composer “unafraid to tackle big themes.” He creates work that is bold, innovative, ambitious, and diverse, and that often includes strong narrative and theatrical influences. His music is performed and recorded by several leading art- ists and ensembles, including counter)induction (NY), New York New Music Ensemble, Canyonlands New Music Ensemble (SLC), Talujon Percussion (NY), Hexnut (Amsterdam, NE), Links Ensemble (Paris, FR), Manhattan String Quartet, Earplay (SF), NOVA Chamber Music Series (SLC), Empyrean Ensem- ble (SF), NY Metropolitan Opera soprano Jennifer Welch-Babidge, pianist Keith Kirchoff, guitarist Dan Lippel, flutist Carlton Vickers, and violinist Curtis Macomber.
Ricks has received commissions and awards from the Fromm Music Foundation, the Barlow Endowment, SCI, and Center for Latter-day Saint Arts, among others, and his music has been featured at multiple national and international conferences, festivals, and symposia, including ICMC, SEAMUS, NYCEMF, ISIM, KISS (Kyma International Sound Symposium), Third Practice, Festival of New American Music, and TRANSIT (Leuven, BE). Recordings of his music appear on multiple labels, including New Focus Recordings, Bridge Records, Albany Records, pfMENTUM, Vox Novus, and Comprovise Records. Ricks received degrees in music composition from Brigham Young University (BM), the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (MM), the University of Utah (PhD), and a Certificate in Advanced Musical Studies (CAMS) from King's College London. He is a professor in the BYU School of Music where he teaches music theory and composition and is the Music Composition and Theory Division Coordinator (2016 to the present). He is former Editor of the Newsletter for the Society for Electro-Acoustic Music in the United States (2012–19), and was director of the BYU Electronic Music Studio for 20 years (2001–2021).