George Crumb: The Final Volume

It is truly the end of an era. Forty-two years ago Bridge Records began a collaboration with George Crumb. The goal was to present his music to the world through a series of recordings. When Crumb died in 2022, the label had released twenty volumes in the series. 

All were done in consultation with the composer. Based on the recording dates, most of these works were recorded before Crumb’s death. 

This volume presents works from the early, middle, and late stages of Crumb’s career. It also includes both versions of Processional. Crumb wrote the work in 1983 for Gilbert Kalish. Kalish’s performance opens the program. 

Crumb created two versions of Processional. Kalish performs the version for regular piano. Marcantonio Barone concludes the album with the second version. This one is for prepared piano, with different objects sitting on the strings. Hearing the two versions back-to-back is enlightening. Both have their merits, and I honestly can’t say which I prefer. 

Kronos-Kryptos began as a percussion septet in 2005. A quintet version was premiered in 2018, but Crumb wasn’t satisfied. In 2020 he revised the work yet again. The Curtis Institute of Music, Ensemble 20/21 delivers a stellar performance. This is the distilled essence of Crumb’s style. Both notes and silence are equally important.

One of Crumb’s earliest works is the Sonata for Solo Violoncello. Written in 1955, it is the most traditional-sounding work on the album. Crumb was ambivalent about the work, but let it remain in his catalog. There are clearly defined melodies, weaving through a highly-chromatic maze of accidentals. 

I’m not sure one could predict that this composer would later produce Black Angels and Macrocosmos. But it is a piece that deserves to be heard. 

Bridge Records has created something truly phenomenal with this series. We have a recorded document of one of the 20th Century’s most unique composers. This is an invaluable reference for anyone seeking to understand Crumb’s music. 

And that includes future performers looking for a starting point for their interpretations.

And here’s something else to consider. This isn’t the only such collaboration Bridge Records has undertaken. Other contemporary composers are being similarly well-served by this extraordinary label. 

George Crumb: Processional
Kronos-Kruyptos; Sonata for Solo Violoncello
Curtis Institue of Music, Ensemble 20/21
Gilbert Kalish; Timothy Eddy; Marcantony Barone
Complete Crumb Edition Vol. 21
Bridge Records

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