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Thomas Delio James Dashow

Cover Art: "Distant Horizons" by Ellen Berger

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Catalog Number: CPS-8645
Audio Format: Stereo, DDD
Playing Time: 67:49
Release Date: 1997

Track Listing & Audio Samples
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    Thomas DeLio
  1. though, on (2:04)
    computer generated tape
as though (2:53)
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    Tom Goldstein, percussion solo
  3. so again (2:08)
    computer generated tape
  4. not (5:24)
    Tom Goldstein, percussion
    Paul Hoffmann, piano
  5. ...a different liquid (3:37)
    computer generated tape
  6. to make / -as / in- (5:33)
    computer generated tape
    James Dashow
  7-11. Songs From a Spiral Tree
    Constance Beavon, mezzo soprano
    Lauren Weiss, flut, alto flute, piccolo
    Lucia Bova, harp
  12-14. First Tangent to the Given Curve for piano & computer
    Daniele Roi, piano


??? - by Phillip George

"...By contrast, there's something of the delicate, mysterious energy of George Crumb in James Dashow's "Songs From a Spiral Tree" (1983-1986) for mezzo-soprano, flute, and harp on poems by Theodore Roethke. The music spirals, swirls, and grows in angular fragments, whole-tone repetitions, and sustained chant-like passages. Unlike DeLio, Dashow intends to give the listener a clear sense of development here, utilizing the honored trick of allowing the whole to emerge from initially-articulated parts.

"First Tangent to the Given Curve" (1995-1996) splits the difference between the relative accessibility of "Spiral Tree" and the austerities of Delio. It is a rather Davidovskian update of the live/memorex dichotomy, the protagonists being piano and computer.

Real-time performers in the Delio selections are percussionist Tom Goldstein and pianist Paul Hoffmann. Dashow's works feature the talents of mezzo-soprano Constance Beavon, flutist Lauren Weiss (doubling on alto flute and piccolo), harpist Lucia Bova, and pianist Daniele Roi."


Fanfare - July/August 1998 - by Robert Kirzinger

"Familiar only with scores and essays of Thomas DeLio (b. 1951) from Perspectives of New Music, I was pleased to receive this CD to review. I dont know whether theres any other explicit connection, but he and James Dashow wound up on a previous CD together. Dashow (b. 1944) also narrowly escaped my hearing until now.

DeLio is a provocative musical thinker, and what I'd seen of his scores intrigued me. This disc presents six pieces: four for computer-generated tape and two for instrumentalists. The longest of the six lasts five and a half minutes. though, on for tape (1996) opens with deliberate tape hiss. The disparate sounds that follow include two overlapping lines of an abstract poem, a high-pitched, phased metallic sound, what could be a harmonium holding two pitches . . . not much material, and much silence, wide gaps separating single sounds. as though (1994) for solo percussion shares this trait. There are two sounds in the first minute of the piece: claves striking at about the 10-second mark, and a snare-drum roll at 45 seconds. Other episodes in the piece involve a battery of different percussion in complex passages either frenetic or quiet. Silence, discrete space, abounds in DeLios music. In his notes to the disc, he writes, I incorporate long silences into the design of each piece. I use these silences to push sonic events away from one another, thereby ensuring the ultimate isolation of each event. Also, I hear the spaces in his work as bridges held aloft by an internal tension. The silence acts not as a negative but as a dynamic space helping to sharpen and focus events just past and events predicted by the silence.

so, again (1994) apparently uses only actual computer-generated sound for its source, again perforated, bolstered by that space. Not (1992) for piano and percussion, perhaps because of the near-familiarity of the sounds, is my favorite piece of the six. The spaces here can soak up the colors of a decaying piano note or cymbal; the music between the spaces stays connected rather than submitting to the isolating processes in which its placed.

Im confused by the phrase computer-generated tape in reference to the final two pieces. Both works center on readings by poets . . . where does the computer come in? . . . a different liquid (1996) changes whats read very little . . . no tunes, for example, and as youd expect by now very little sound other than the reading, Peter Inmans vagabond read by the poet himself. In to make / -as / in- the reading undergoes somewhat more manipulation, with multilayering and more sound outside of the text. The text comes from Leslie Scalapinos way and the reading is the poets. I dont find either of these pieces to be particularly effective; the words and their attendant meanings overwhelm whatever tiny nuance DeLio may be trying to add.

Dashow takes a road more traveled for his settings of Roethke in Songs from a Spiral Tree (1983-86). The music attempts to parallel the poems dramas and moods. His settings, though, especially of the longer texts, feel rudderless and arbitrary. The first song, from I Cry, Love! Love! Is a breadth of emotions unto itself. Through composed, the line of the mezzo soprano defines the structure. The flute and harp dance kinetically under a smooth vocal line in the first two-thirds of the song. The latter part changes to a morose character of long notes and closer harmony. The Restored and from The Lost Son (n. 5) require sprechtimme from the vocalist, bringing out Roethkes car for sound. The flutist again sounds overwrought about something (though this time in piccolo guise). This remains the case throughout the cycle, clearly an obligation taken too far. The distinctive sound of the flute harp duo demands a sensitive approach that Dashow didnt grasp in this cycle.

How refreshing, after that cycle, I find First Tangent to the Given Curve (1995-96)! The booklet says for piano and computer but doesnt specify whether the computer generates the sounds in real time or whether this is computer-generated tape. I would assume the latter, since its more practical at the moment. The metallic-tinged synthesized sounds tend either to reflect the pianos excited activity or to contrast it completely with washes of complex tones. The piece is assembled in three movements, fast, slow, fast. The piano writing is especially fine, and its prevalence gives the piece the feel, almost, of a concerto. Theres more cooperation than antagonism between the parts, but the pianos voice remains the more subtle and meaningful. The strongly felt performance here by Daniele Roi adds to its depth.

Sound and production are fine, with good notes and inclusion of all texts. Thomas DeLios music isnt for everyone, but its uniqueness appeals to me, and further exploration of these pieces will give me something to think about. Of the two Dashow works, the piano computer piece is definitely worth having. I can recommend the disc on the basis of this piece and the DeLeo pieces, while in the Songs from a Spiral Tree its possible Im just not the audience for it."