Monday, March 08, 2010

Russell Platt on Phil Kline

"In contemporary America, most religious music—competent, predictable—is produced by the masters of the 'choral market.' But recent recordings from two composers offer wondrous examples of another aesthetic—a deeply personal subjectivity brought to hallowed musical forms. … Phil Kline, a child of devout Pennsylvania Dutch Lutherans who earned his stripes touring in Glenn Branca’s earsplitting guitar ensembles, has brought a fulsome eclecticism to 'John the Revelator' (Cantaloupe), a Mass that mixes the familiar liturgical passages with fragments of the Old Testament and texts by David Shapiro and Samuel Beckett. Eerily harmonized versions of early American hymns frame the work, with the interior movements drinking deeply of the styles of Messiaen, Eastern Orthodox chant, and rugged, rock-inflected minimalism. The performers, the male chorus Lionheart and the string quartet Ethel, are world class, but the effect is peculiarly American—both simple and complex, crude and sublime. Kline worships music at a church of his own making" (Russell Platt, "Classical Notes," New Yorker, 12/7/09).


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