Julius Eastman; FemenineFrozen Reeds
FR 006 CD
This recording is the première release of Julius Eastman's Femenine, for chamber ensemble. It is Femenine's only known recording, documenting a 1974 performance by the S.E.M. Ensemble (with the composer on piano) that has lain unheard for decades.
The music of Julius Eastman (1940-1990) is enjoying an ongoing period of rediscovery. Known best in the past for his work with figures like Peter Maxwell Davies, Arthur Russell, and Meredith Monk, today his own formidable compositions continue to draw increasing admiration. Joyous, insistent, and immersive, Femenine bathes the listener in surges of tonal color from intertwining winds, piano, violin, pitched percussion, synthesizer, and -- uniquely -- the composer's own invention of mechanized sleigh bells, which provide the 72-minute piece with its characteristic pulse.
Illuminating sleeve notes are provided by composer and author Mary Jane Leach, who is co-editor of Gay Guerrilla, a 2015 collection of essays on Eastman's life and music. Recorded by Steve Cellum -- co-producer of Arthur Russell's World of Echo -- and mastered by Denis Blackham. CD in slim card package with insert. "Eastman's stated aim with Femenine was to please listeners, saying of the piece that 'the end sounds like the angels opening up heaven . . . should we say euphoria?' " --Mary Jane Leach