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Chatham: A Crimsom Grail

$ 19.67 $ 21.86
The August 9th 2009, American premiere of composer Rhys Chatham's 'A Crimson Grail,' captured on this disc, was monumental in concept, execution and impact. The piece was originally written for 125 electric guitars and designed to fill the acoustically blessed interior of the Sacre-Coeur Basilica in Paris. The New York Times described that initial presentation as 'a meditative, slowly unfolding work, filled with huge, droning sound clouds that, like a pointillist landscape, reveal great detail on close inspection.' By the time Chatham brought the work to his native New York City for a single performance that had literally been years in the making, the piece had been re-imagined for the urban outdoors and arranged to practically fill the sky. Presented in Damrosch Park on Manhattan's Upper West Side as part of the Lincoln Center Out of Doors festival, in conjunction with the Wordless Music Series, 'A Crimson Grail' featured an astonishing 200 electric guitars, 16 electric basses, five conductors and one percussionist. For the thousands who witnessed this event, it was an earth-shaking visual and sonic spectacle. On this live document, 'A Crimson Grail' becomes something else yet again: a hypnotic, album-length piece that's visceral, soul stirring, and at times surprisingly intimate. Its thunderous passages give way to meditative interludes and the music builds to a kind of musical and spiritual ecstasy.

As Rolling Stone's David Fricke has noted, 'Composer-guitarist-trumpeter Rhys Chatham was virtually born into the avant-garde.' Chatham resided at the heart of the classical and new music scene in New York City of the seventies as, among other things, a student of LaMonte Young, a piano tuner for Glenn Gould, and music curator of The Kitchen, Manhattan's most important multidisciplinary outpost for the new and adventurous. Chatham experienced an artistic epiphany when he witnessed a show by rigorous Minimalists of an altogether different sort, the Ramones, at a then little-known club called CBGB's and that inspired him to pick up the guitar. Chatham's fusion of classical chops, a Minimalist aesthetic and a sense of rock bravado led to groundbreaking - and earsplitting - work that has influenced significant artists in rock as well as the avant garde, including Sonic Youth, the Swans, Husker Du and My Bloody Valentine. His ideas are perhaps more relevant to young artists and music buyers than ever before. 'A Crimson Grail,' said the New York Times, offered 'a chance to witness the homecoming of a prodigal son of New York Minimalism, an art-music composer who has had a tremendous, if underappreciated, effect on the world of rock.'

'A Crimson Grail' reaffirms the prescience of the young Chatham's vision. Those new to Chatham's work will be inspired and exhilarated; those already familiar with his repertoire and his reputation cannot fail to be moved once again.