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CLASSICAL  January 2005

CLASSICAL January 2005

Subject:

Re: Great Female Composers

From:

Bert Bailey <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Mon, 17 Jan 2005 18:55:38 -0500

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Nathan Lofton contributed seven _contemporary_ women composers, so I'll
also misbehave by naming my favourite, and one or two more:

Grazyna Bacewicz (Poland: 1909-69).  Notable to me for putting the lie
to my prejudice against 12-tone music: most of what she's composed,
12-tone and otherwise, belongs in the very top drawer.

Sofia Gubaidulina and Galina Ustvolskaya are often challenging but, when
their works connect, richly rewarding.  The Naxos of SG's chamber pieces
has drawn a huge range of responses from me over the years, from disbelief
to an acceptance that I regard as a form of understanding.  Her viola
concerto is a strong favourite.  By contrast, to my ear Ustvolskaya has
the gift of humour, however strange or dark.

Nancy van der Vate (US: 1930-) you'll find paired with Penderecki; has
2 compelling violin concertos, one for viola, a piece from 1987 called
'Chernobyl,' and a lot more esp on the Vienna Modern Masters label, which
she co-founded.  Joanna Bruzdowicz (Polish: 1943-) is another worth
noting; has a concerto for double bass and orchestra, and one for
violin/orch.  I wish there were many more on CDs dedicated to both of
these ladies.

Same for Thea Musgrave (Scots: 1928-), yet another impressive contemporary.
Save for the outstanding Collins release, much of what's out on CD seems
to be scraps.  Patience, I guess.

The 2 Naxos releases by Elisabetta Brusa (It: 1954-) were very promising
indeed, I thought.  I look foward to something longer by her.

Nicola LeFanu's recent Naxos release frankly disappointed me: just a
lot of sonic fastidiousness, was my impression.  But her mother's string
quartets and 2 clarinet concertinos -- all I've heard of Elizabeth
Maconchy (UK: 1907-'84) -- attest to an impressive musical intelligence.

I haven't yet listened closely enough to the music of Sally Beamish
(1956-), but there's plenty of it out: viola, cello and oboe concertos,
etc.

Doreen Carwithen (1922-) also belongs on the list of 20th century composers
who happen to be women.

No doubt I'm missing one or two from my collection, but no more.  Odd,
isn't it, that women are so weakly represented as composers, yet do fine
thanks very much as interpreting musicians?

Bert Bailey

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