Reach Passionate Liberals with your Ad


Support OpEdNews with Your Ad


When the Electronic Voting Buy Comes to MY County
by Rob Kall
by Allen L Roland
Homeland Dreamland
by David Swanson
The Torture Issue Alone Is Sufficient To Justify Impeachment Of Bush, Cheney, and Rumsfeld
by Rev. Bill McGinnis
Bush's Strategy of Preemption
by Ron Fullwood
32 US Reps Want Bush Impeachment Inquiry
by Matthew Cardinale
The Challenge of Affluence: A Root of Our Moral Crisis?
by Andrew Bard Schmookler
Support Dan Seals in the 10th District of Illinois
by SDrobny
How Many Brinks Until There's Nothing Left to Lose?
by Missy Comley Beattie
by Stephen Lendman
The Changing Face of Terror
by Mike Whitney
Trust Us
by Robert C. Koehler
Terrorists or Resistance Fighters:
by By Gerald Rellick
Harman vs. Winograd, Tough Choice?
by David Swanson
Ready or Not, Here Comes HIlary
by Bob Burnett
Feingold, Kerry & the 'Strategists'
by Robert Parry
Going from bad to worse
by Doug Thompson
Bush Envisions an Era of American War.
by Dan Merica
by Randolph T. Holhut
Impeachment and Connecticut
by David Swanson
by Sheila Samples
Fusion's Third-Party Path to the Center
by David Sirota

Subject(s): ,     
March 16, 2006

Weekly Music Reviews: March 13-19
Tell A Friend
Erling Wold and Modern American Art Music - Part 1

by Mark S. Tucker

Roll Over, Tchaikovsky, and Tell Schehedrin the News.

Erling Wold’s a composer-player, emphasis increasingly on the former, who has produced a sophisticated body of work commencing in laboriously refined virtues impressively gaining in flavor, esteem, mesmerization, and rigor as the years have progressed. Basing from the git-go in progressive musics, he’s rapidly shown his hand as a major American talent while remaining bafflingly largely ignored, though recognition has been, and is being, generated from foreign shores. Blame this regrettable domestic error perhaps on crits the ilk of Alan Rich, maintaining an inexplicable esteem in ink venues, gents who prefer writing of themselves and their high-society misadventues while hobnobbing with pallid paparazzi, only occasionally deigning to give the nod to such pedestrian matters as actual music. Whatever the reason, the Fates, though Wold propitiates them daily through a wealth of graces, haven’t seen fit to accord him proper benevolence. This year, though, he’ll be launching three major opuses:

* in the fall, at the Cathedral of St. Gallen in Switzerland, Mass will debut;

* in December, at the San Francisco’s Other Minds venue, a solo opera, Tryptichimera, will premier;

* and Blinde Liebe, an opera for dancers, singers and interactive systems, will make the rounds in Europe.

The spring of 2007 has promised San Fran the leering presentment of 24/7, an Erling Wold Sex Comedy, an event promising to cause as many ripples as his past more serious and beautifully outré surprises.

A retrospective on this gentleman is well past due, in light of constantly superb activity, so the Weekly Music Review column is hereby twisted for this purpose, plus a follow-up installment (next week), with a unique difference keeping both holy contemporeneity and access to listenability unsullied: Wold has an extraordinarily generous free multitude of downloads and Mp3s ready for your delectation on his site: http: // .

That’s right, I said fuh-ree!

Background and Preparation

Though then virtually unknown in the larger music world, the Frisco keyboardist was in the group Name during the early 80’s with indie guitarist Henry Kaiser. He also gigged with the highly respected RIO (Rock In Opposition) fretbender Fred Frith and supplied the gorgeous score for Jon Jost’s The Bed You Sleep In movie, a soundtrack loved by Faust, with whom he toured. All these are well-known cult figures in the progressive music and film milieus, clearly indicating Wold's talent and the fact that he was far from trying to bust into the mainstream charts with pap and swill. Though he’d been penning significant pieces and occasional amusing knockoffs (a three-keyboard version of “Hawaii Five-O”, f’rinstance) since ‘78, he debuted solo with Music of Love in 1988. I Weep followed in 1990, both abundantly worthy of perusal, but 1993 was when the composer hit his true stride, with the Jost soundtrack, a venture placing him squarely in novo-chamber realms that gents like Roger Eno were making impressive advances in. Jost had already worked with Wold on an earlier film, Sure Fire, desired a fresh ambient background in just intonation for his new cine-opus and got it in spades.

Bed’s music was moody, sparse, and slow but imbued with a clarity depicting broad serene spaces. It remains a score with few parallels, save perhaps Junior Homrich & Brian Gascoigne’s work for John Boorman’s Emerald Forest, both releases being languidly hedonistic, riven with authenticity, and chiefly uncategorizable while definably Impressionistic, working well as accompaniment to visuals or solo, as music alone - no matter how monitored, the sounds provide generous cerebral pensivity.

The same year saw A Little Girl Dreams of Taking the Veil, the knockout full recording of a germinal idea from I Weep, after which an S.F. stage presentation launched. Pristinely recorded, it’s a ravishingly sparse minimalist’s sonic version of Max Ernst’s weirdly graphic anti-Catholic psychodrama of the same name. Breathtaking in mood, the opera’s many psycho-emotional planes and seemingly benevolent atmosphere added paradoxical chills to a black and disturbing text vocally illuminated by the dementedly distinguished narrator. Think Mike Mantler, Dagmar, John Greaves, a deviate psychotherapist Phil Glass on Qualudes, and you’ll be in the ballpark. Many times has this ambitious sort of hybrid been brought to life, rarely had it been so masterfully handled. In performance and on videotape, the performers shone, the music provoked, the mind engaged, and the whole strange tableau was thoroughly unflawed, deserving of the highest accolades.

1999 saw 13 Versions of Surrender, a thematically linked septet of songs sharpening Wold’s singular visions to diamond clarity. Working chiefly with chamber ensembles and vocalists, he crafted Fabergé eggs of twisted beauty, yanking surrealism back over to its baseline irrealities, painting for the throngs a canvas constituting a fuller definition of the outré, inserting baroque twists on a modernity previously undiscovered. Kurt Weill would’ve lauded it, with Reich and Adams approving from the antechamber. Wold in his American skin showed audiences what European neoclassical operatics were aiming for but only partially succeeding at. Every least note was so finely honed that none other could’ve been possible, no alternative melodies thinkable. Each space was emplaced to draw full attention to crystallinely ghostly structures and a wealth of zenlike buried artifacts, a multitude of fingers pointing at moons, pure undiluted genius.

Back to the Stage, Part 1

Wold’s adaptation of William Burroughs’ *Queer* (2001, in two CDs) took the composer in a slightly newer direction. Besides the obvious titillatory aspects perhaps finally allowable in this time period of somewhat accepted homosexuality - Burroughs being the 20th century’s fractured Wilde gone bad - this opera nonetheless proved to be as discomforting for today’s heteros as Oscar had been in his day, despite all the trained and strained omnipresent PC pro-tolerance patter clogging media and public discourse (toleration, as Marcuse opined, is not all that difficult to see as leashed disdain).

The problem, it rapidly became evident, was the degree of Wold’s honesty not only in the narrative but within the play’s visual entablatures as well. The libretto, co-adapted by the composer, was ironic, barbed, darkly hilarious, and revealing, while the music boasted unending subtleties easily losing themselves in the audience’s fascination with a serpentine story-line, alternatingly pastoral and languidly propulsive, containing many moodshifts and elegant contrasts, some sections reminiscent of David Jackson’s first Long Hello LP from the 70s. The singers brought stratospheric operatic norms back down to the soil, providing the sort of bridge from Gilbert & Sullivan that most modernists have missed by dwelling overly long in the aforementioned Weill.

Neither vainglory nor contrivedly vaulting performances are heard here but, rather, encanted stage prose cleaving to musical necessity and staples, nicely avoiding textual obscuration. Though the music occupies a slight second-banana position, it marries the original manuscript’s viscerality to the surrealism Burroughs’ writing is forever drenched in, the key to his success. In whole, it’s as odd, and sometimes as nervous, as portions of Benjamin Britten’s catalogue, twistedly genteel and sophisticated.


Next: From Naughty Willie to Maxie Redux to...the Bible?!?!



Mark S. Tucker, a critic, has written for numerous national newsrack magazines and websites over the past 20 years, as well as for this forum. He can be reached at This article is originally published at Copyright Mark S. Tucker, but permission is granted for reprint in print, email, blog, or web media so long as this credit is attached.

Contact Author

Contact Editor

View Other Articles by Author


Tell A Friend


Comments On This Page

Please add your comments to this page. CLICK HERE.
The following comments are owned by the poster. We are not responsible for their content.

0 comment(s) follow for 'Weekly Music Reviews: March 13-19'
No Comments Added Yet
Please add your comments to this page. CLICK HERE.


Copyright © OpEdNews, 2002-2006

Reach Passionate Liberals. Your Ad Here






I Saw The News Today, Oh Boy
by Todd Huffman, M.D.
Satan and Ben and Jerry's in the Garden of Eden
by Linda Hoffenberg, author unknown
Weekly Music Reviews: March 13-19
by Mark S. Tucker
From Green Beret to Peace Activist:
by Daniela Rommel
Weekly Music Reviews: Mar. 6 - 12
by Mark S. Tucker
A Dark Shadow
by Jim Bush
War Wounds
by Jim Bush
HealthCare Run Amuk
by YankeeWhiskeyVictor
Successful Self-publishing - Key questions for authors #2
by Jim Donovan
Extra Credit
by Joan Brunwasser, author unknown
What Are We Afraid Of?
by Todd Huffman, M.D.
Each Drop
by Jim Bush
Rules Don't Apply To Me
by Todd Huffman, M.D.
Hardball Hypocrisy To The Umpteeth Power
by Roy Murtishaw
Walt Whitman's Anti-War Poem, "Come Up From The Fields, Father," With Reading On Public Domain MP3
by Rev. Bill McGinnis
The Winter Olympics: Too Real for Reality TV?
by Elliot Hannon
Godfather of Conservative Movement, Michael Joyce, Dies at 63
by Bill Berkowitz
Osama, Where Are You?
by Jim Bush
The Devil's New Dictionary - Part 8
by Mark S. Tucker
by Allen L Roland
I Joined Up!
by Jim Bush
The Bodies Under The Floor
by Jim Bush