The Music of Joseph Dubiel

He’s been an active member of the
theoretical community for at least two decades now, teaches at Columbia
University, has co-edited the evergreen Perspectives of New Music, and
published a quite impressive body of work, some of it devoted to elucidating
the inimitable thoughts of Milton Babbit, a veritable doyen of music theory,
not given to the short and succinct in written expression.

That’s Joe’s professional side. Hearing this recording is like being
invited to his house for a beer and a chat. Here’s a side I never knew
before: Joe composer.

With a dozen works in various genres done by several performance
ensembles, the recording offers up a miscellany of Dubiel’s compositional
interests, including some very good vocal writing. Some of it is edgy,
notably a setting of three songs for female voice and double bass to texts by
Margaret Atwood, “Pig Song,” “Owl Song,” and “Siren Song.” Some of it is
witty: a setting of three stanzas by Gertrude Stein is just as clever as
Stein’s stanzas themselves. Hilda Doolittle’s “At Baia” merits particularly
close listening; it is a subtle work for double string quartet, string bass,
and soprano.

Of the remaining works, three involve clarinet: “Down Time” for bass
clarinet and piano, “Precis” for clarinet and piano, and a quartet for
clarinet and strings. These are all very good, showing a nice familiarity
with the instrument (perhaps another personal dimension to Dubiel?). The
recording rounds out with two works for piano solo, both with enigmatic
titles, “Neither Here Nor There,” and “Still Getting Nowhere.”

The style on the whole is American modern-expressively atonal, albeit
gently so. The musicians would seem to have Princeton, Manhattan, or U.
Wisconsin at Madison associations, thus they must all be friends with Joe,
since he’s been resident in all three locations at one time or another. And
that sort of makes the whole thing a celebration of friends, all centered on
one friendly guy.

Murray Dineen
University of Ottawa

image_description=The Music of Joseph Dubiel
product_title=The Music of Joseph Dubiel
product_by=Mimmi Fulmer, soprano; Jeffrey Farrington, piano; Donald Palma, double bass; Michael Webster, bass clarinet; The Pro Arte Quartet; The Sonare String Quartet; Hans Sturm, double bass; James Smith, conductor; Michael Webster, clarinet; Kenneth Goldsmith, violin; Karen Ritscher, viola; Norman Fischer, cello
product_id=Centaur CRC 2661 [CD]