eMusic Review 0
Julia Wolfe is one of three composers (along with Michael Gordon and Pulitzer Prize winner David Lang) who founded the ever-expanding contemporary music empire known as Bang On A Can. Her own music occupies a fertile territory that acknowledges both rock music and the twitchy, modernist pole of classical music (so both "downtown" and "uptown" schools), and she has displayed an affinity for scores with multiples of the same instrument. Her works for potentially dubious forces, like nine bagpipes or four drum sets, benefit from her keen ear for texture and gesture — these pieces can be both hypnotic and startling. The two on this recording are also restricted in instrumentation, though it's a restriction that has a long tradition behind it: These are works for string ensemble.
In recent years, Wolfe has begun to mine her early interest in American and British folk ballads. She was a finalist for the 2010 Pulitzer Prize for her "Steel Hammer," a piece inspired by the song "John Henry." The first part of this release, "Cruel Sister," is a close relative of that work. Based on the old British song known as "The Two Sisters" (among many alternate titles), "Cruel Sister" closely follows the… read more »