As a Composer
Stephen Horenstein: Private Collection, JICM Recordings
In this new release Horenstein has selected those works which he considers some of his most definitive artistic statements (1985-2016). They all share an eery surrealistic quality, typical to the composer’s poetic style of juxtaposing opposites and extremes.
This compilation includes works that will hopefully stand the “test of time”. They represent some of the composers’ most personal and favorite compositions.
- Breaking the Walls –Breaking the Walls was originally one section of a larger work (Agadot) written in 1985 and revised in 1990 by the composer. It is based on sound sources described in Biblical texts. This section was inspired by descriptions of the sounds of Jericho. The breaking of walls is also a metaphor for breaking walls inside us that block flow and the recovery of innate health. There is a story attached to this piece, which I will share with you in a later entry. For a “choir” of tenor saxophones and shofarot. Premiered in the Israel Festival, 1985, and New York International Festival of the Arts in 1990. This version is a special composer’s enhancement of the original.
- Quintet-for woodwinds, this sparse composition was written for the composer’s mother at the height of her struggle with the onset of Alzheimer’s disease. The work is a series of miniaturist settings, exploring both timbre and lyric expression, and ultimately feelings of isolation. Performed by the Van Leer Chamber Players of Jerusalem. Noam Buchman (Flute), Desmond Beazley (Bass Clarinet),
David Doten (Horn), Richard Paley (Bassoon), George Haas (Oboe).
- Andarta (Memorial) is an electro-acoustic sound collage generally performed through eight speakers in the round, in a darkened room with moderately dry acoustics. It was conceived as the sound component for an underground memorial to the Jewish freedom fighters in World War II, designed by Israeli sculptor Israeli Hadany. The sculpture consisted of a cave with sculpted obelisks and an overhead opening in the shape of a Jewish Star of David. The sculptor commissioned the composer to create a sound environment evoking collective memories and experiences of the Holocaust.
*When the composer began seeking primary source material, he discovered old yellow records in the archives of Yad Vashem, Jerusalem. Later he discovered that these records were field recordings created on a special hand-held direct recording apparatus—i.e. sound-to-vinyl machine. Upon analyzing these recordings he discovered that behind all the scratches and distortions, were passionate vocal renditions of Yiddish songs, some familiar, some new. An array of analog filters were used to extract these voices, restoring them to be used for primary source material in his composition. In addition to Yiddish songs, the piece features extracts from partisan journals (Italian, Polish, Yiddish, Hungarian, Hebrew, English) as well as other authentic recordings (Yiddish, Hebrew, English). In addition to the vocal layers, instrumental sounds are also used.
The composer later discovered more history. At the termination of World War II, Shmaryahu Shmirky Kazerginsky (1908-1954), a musicologistand survivor from the Vilna ghetto, worked under the auspices of the Central Committee of Liberated Jews American War Zone, Munich, and organized a group of volunteers, including American GI’s, to collect songs sung by Jewish holocaust survivors (exiting and traveling from the camps, and residents in the DP camps). The recordings were eventually “cut” onto yellow vinyl field recording medium, one set of recordings archived in Munich, and the other later donated to Yad Vashem. In the 1950’s one historian, Dr. Ze’ev Mankowitz, viewed the Munich set, and witnessed that their condition was also poorly preserved.
Some of those songs recorded under the auspice of Kazerginsky included “Mey Commandant”, “Es Brendt”, and “Ani Maamin”. Songs from other recorded sources included: “Peat Bog Soldiers”, “Partisan Song” (“Zog Nicht Kind”…), and others. They were used in this piece in their original varied keys and tempos.
In addition to the vocal elements, the following were employed: percussion (low drums, suspended cymbals, snare drum), cellos (four, overdubbed to produce sixteen), saxophones (three tenor saxophones, one soprano, overdubbed to produce sixteen), two pianos, analog effects (delay, reverb, compression). Panning from left to right, as well as changes of orchestral and vocal timbre, were utilized to create a special depth and parallax.
The composer built the work from masses of sound (reminiscent of Holocaust sculptures built from masses of objects, like shoes, glasses, hair) designed to reflect the enormous weight of that historic even. The composer consciously shaped the sound mass to effect the lengthening of the listener’s perception of time. He recalls several points in the recording studio session when the lights of the analog spectrum analyzer signaled that all frequencies were “busy; at that moment , for him, time seemed to slow down considerably (and even, at one point, seemed to stop). It was this personal psychological experience that finally led to further research by the composer into this phenomenon.
- Evanescence-for the Meitar Ensemble (2014), conducted by Yuval Zorn ; performed 2.10.14 at the Tel Aviv Museum ( “Chag Ha Musica Israelit”). The piece explores percussion as the driving force in a chamber ensemble setting; it also explores our cacophonous 21st century existence and near impossibility for personal solitude. Hagar Shahal, flute/alto flute, Gilad Harel, clarinet/bass clarinet , Yoni Gotlibovich, cello, Tomer Yariv, percussion, Amit Dolberg, piano (Artistic Director).
- Zman Emet (Double Quintet) explores the subliminal, and the possibility of time dilatation in an impossible world, for double quintet and live electronics; original materials recorded by the Van Leer Chamber Music Players of Jerusalem. Noam Buchman (Flute), Desmond Beazley (Bass Clarinet), David Doten (Horn), Richard Paley (Bassoon), George Haas (Oboe).
- Circus (2016)-(for electronics). The piece explores our struggle for solitude and ultimately its impossibility. Designed as a sound analogy to Joseph Cornell’s famous “boxes” (dioramas). To be developed into a full-length “oratorio” for electronic media.
NEW RELEASE! January, 2017
The Eb Lydian Augmented Project, Steve Horenstein/JC Jones
May be purchased at CD Baby .
Five tracks of two players like an orchestra. This extended collaborative composition by Jones and Horenstein was one year in the making. It explores the many hidden timbres of these two instruments (contra bass and baritone saxophone), built from a traditional Japanese bass tuning which naturally produces the “parent scale” (Eb Lydian Augmented) which re-occurs throughout the piece.
Collages, Jerusalem, IRMC Recordings (Black Saint-Soul Note), Milan
Purchase at Amazon.com: http://www.amazon.com/Collages-Jerusalem-85/dp/B001U5AG6W
Review by Tom Schulte -“All Music” [-]
“In the lengthy, six-page article inside the Collages liner notes, it is noted that Horenstein calls Jerusalem a “city of paradox.” Aptly, the opening track is “Breaking the Walls,” a study in contrast, dissonance between Horenstein‘s tenor saxophone and the ram’s horn sounded at times of Jewish solemnity, the shofaroth. In the 16-minute “Chiasmus” Horenstein solos over a “sound environment.” This is an amorphous background of gong-like tone coloring and heated verbal debates. At times the piece is serene, at others argumentative. Sound painter and Horenstein mentor, Bill Dixon, is openly acknowledged in “Piece for a Large Ensemble” performed by 13 musicians including five saxophonists. The six and one half minute piece begins with a sonic portrait of open space, perhaps even arid. The piece builds to a percussive rumble from the lineup that includes two drummers and two pianists and horn players that tint more than solo. One sax player is joined by trumpet and two percussionists in the tranquil “Early Morning Song.” In a sonorous conversation, Horenstein plays baritone sax in duet with a cello on “Meditation on a Line.” Ultimately discovering form and harmony in a Japanese garden within this land of contradictions, Collages concludes with a serene vision in a live recording where a rich bottom end of cellists, bassist and percussionists support soprano vocalise (Judith Axelrod) and Horenstein on flute and horns.”
Between the Silences, JICM Recordings, Jerusalem
NOW AVAILABLE at CD BABY and I TUNES!
Release, December 1, 2013!!
“…it challenges you to think, to react, and to eneter a tough world with a heavy pulse…you are dropped into a dense space and left to figure out what’s happening. With repeated listening, the terrain gets more familiar and enjoyable…..What these artists do well is communicate the complexities of a paradoxical society, simultaneously traditional and pioneer. In some ways they do a better job of revealing the Israeli soul than news soundbytes ever could.”
Ya’acov Gabriel,Tikkun, Review: “Between the Silences”, CD
As a Co-Composer
Raw and the Cooked, Kadima Recordings, Jerusalem (CD Baby)
Purchase at CD Baby http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/temperamentalit
for double bass, baritone saxophone and live electronics (MAX)- Collaboration with Jean Claude Jones, Louic Kessus and Stephen Horenstein (Temperamental Trio)
“…The Temperamental Trio follows its own adventurous course, invented by three daring and restless souls who manage to transform their sonic collisions into a bold statement of creativity.” Eyal HaReuveni
“Horenstein… presents his rich and imaginative vocabulary on the baritone, from dry drone sounds through windy flute-like whistles and angry shouts to Middle-Eastern percussive sounds. Jones enjoys such improvised chaos and instigates the trio to explore extremes with extended bass techniques and effects. Kessous adds surprising, alien soundscape manipulations that push the musical envelope of this trio further…..
The Natives are Restless, JICM Recordings, Jerusalem
From The Natives are Restless, “Toward Infinity”
Purchase at CD Baby
“From extremely spacious and meditative spaces, to dense, primitive primal screams. Butterfly Effect is a cutting-edge ensemble creating collaborative pieces with unusual and traditional instruments…”
Chimera, JICM Recordings, Jerusalem (NOW AVAILABLE! at CD Baby and I Tunes)
“Chimera” Review, by Eyal HaReuveni
….”The interplay of the trio is nurtured by years of collaborative work, deep understanding, exemplary listening and the breadth, inventiveness and the imagination of the musical vocabularies of each musician. The 53-minutes title piece evolves and transforms between extreme poles—from a subtle, meditative depths with East-Asian overtones, ritualistic, delicate, ethnic -tinged dances, surreal, dissonant and even eccentric improvisations, to intense, raw and cathartic eruptions—but never loses its sharp focus, sense of dramatic progression and its tight, tough risk-taking, interplay. Throughout this real-time improvisation that eventually blossoms as a cohesive composition the trio structures new world musical universes, vivid, cinematic scenes and keep experimenting with nuanced, new sounds, some sound old and others futuristic and unworldly.
Patiently and methodically this captivating collaborative, spontaneous process of music making-sonic journey orchestrates its own cinematic narrative, rich in details and enigmatic moods, colors and shades. The dramatic tension reaches its climax towards its end and then dissolves gently into a series of gentler, compassionate gestures, reaching a profound musical bond that is articulated in brief, minimalist sounds.
As a Performer
Considerations, w. Bill Dixon
Purchase at Discogs
“For Franz”, w. Bill Dixon , re-released with work by Steve Lacy, Opium
Purchase at Amazon.com
Bill Dixon in Italy (Vol. I and II) IREC Recordings (Black Saint-Soul Note), Milan
Purchase at Amazon.com