GARY VERKADE: WINDED - with compositions by KENNETH GABURO, WARREN BURT & PHILIP BLACKBURN
(Innova 524 http://www.composersforum.org )
MUSICWORKS 75 - with compositions by KENNETH GABURO, HOPE LEE, LINDA TILLERY, PAULINE OLIVEROS, & SCOTT JOHNSON
(Musicworks, 179 Richmond St. W. Toronto, Ont. Canada M5V 1V3; http://www.musicworks-mag.com)
(Some people might consider my writing of this review - in which I have a piece on one of the CDs, and was involved in producing the other, to be a conflict of interest. If you're among them - yeah,yeah! Don't read any further. Otherwise, read on. :-) ) Kenneth Gaburo was one of the masters of experimental composition in the late 20th century. Unfortunately, his work has been incredibly difficult to find. Finally, this situation, with the assistance of a small band of dedicated people (yours truly included) is being remedied. The above two CDs, which contain material previously unavailable, are now augmented by a just-released third CD, of Gaburo's works for tape solo, released on Pogus. Over his career, Gaburo began 11 pieces for instruments and tape - the Antiphony series - of which eight (1-4, 6, 8- 10) were completed. Antiphony X (Winded) for organ and tape is the last in the series, and it's an undisputed masterpiece. A complex, searing half hour of high energy organ and tape sounds, its performed with incredible energy by Gary Verkade, a virtuoso of the first rank. Also on the CD are two other pieces, both made by students of Gaburo, yours truly, and Philip Blackburn, and both of which are, in their own different ways, as uncompromising as Gaburo's piece. Both of these pieces also deal with the sound of Gaburo's voice, in homage to his concern with the voice as the primal expressive mark of individual being. In all modesty, I think the pieces by myself and Philip Blackburn are pretty good, but the real reason you'll find this CD essential to own is Antiphony X, one of the high points of experimental music composition in the 1990s.
Does anyone out there, by now, still not know about Musicworks? Originating in Toronto, it's just about the most informative new music publication around. Every issue is crammed with articles, reviews, interviews, and each issue comes with a CD. I find it absolutely essential reading, devouring every word of every issue. If you aren't already a subscriber to Musicworks, you should be. In the current issue, #75, there is an extensive interview with Philip Blackburn and myself about Kenneth Gaburo, which provides a lot of information about him. The treasure in this issue, though, are the four previously unreleased Gaburo works contained on the CD. Of those, Antiphony II (Variations on a Poem of Cavafy) will be of most interest to readers of Chroma. This is a recording of a live performance of a piece for 16 voice choir and two channel tape from 1962. The quality of the tape is a bit distorted, but nonetheless, the essence of the piece comes across well. The relation of the choir to the tape is complex, and virtuosic. This is a more relaxed piece than Antiphony X, but not any less serious. The CD also contains a few minutes of the Hiroshima Day 1987 Andrew McLennan - ABC - Kenneth Gaburo collaboration Testimony, which, 13 years later, emerges as a moving document of people's refusal to accept the way that the military and governments were viewing them (as expendible). Also on the CD are several other pieces of interest to computer music makers and fans - Hope Lee's lovely Voices in Time for chamber ensemble and tape; Pauline Oliveros on accordion and live computer processing with Pauline's Solo; and Scott Johnson's witty Listen, for sampled voices and instruments, in which the vocal contours of a simple, common phrase are developed for a rock/jazz based ensemble.
(this review was first published in Chroma)