The first thing was an announcement of an article that I appeared in:
There's a new feature in the classical guitar magazine Soundboard this month (Volume 33, 2007). The magazine is published by the Guitar Foundation of America. There is a little about me, and they have also published my first guitar etude. Classical guitarists - please check it out!
Audio: Etude No. 1 for Classical Guitar:
The second was a fantastic review I recieved:
il dolce stile nuovo for violin, cello, and piano by Anthony Joseph Lanman.
©2001 Anthony Joseph Lanman
The second time I heard this work was in a car driving up to Crater Lake in Oregon. Already familiar with the piece as the lake came in sight for the first time, the fabulous glacial morning blue color of the lake blended with the sonorous cadences of the main section of il dolce stile nuovo and created for me one of those priceless moments where music and Nature unite.
As a composer, I am jealous of this work. Jealous perhaps in the best sense, in that I admire the technique and spirit that created it. Mr. Lanman states in the score that he was influenced by composers and musicians as diverse as Perotin, Corelli, Bach, Schoenberg, and the band Metallica. However, this diversity of inputs yields a most consistent output. This is not music of collage or pastiche, but a heartfelt and wholly unified work.
The piece revels in seeming contradictions, yet comes out more unified than most. Pop syncopations of the most sophisticated kind make the piece rock, while the ecstatic refinements of the main A sections put the work in a realm somewhere between the exquisiteness of Ravel and the ecstasies of Scriabin. Lanman combines the "rock" and "exquisite ecstasies" with complete success, to create a whole I have never experienced before, one which puts me in a unique--and marvelous--place. This is a composer who not only thoroughly understands the musical language he has chosen for the piece, but he also feels that language in a fundamental way that makes this music an intellectual, yet above all thoroughly visceral, experience. The music is also completely idiomatic to his modal language in melody, harmony, and rhythm. It is through his heartfelt instincts, and not random experiments in sound, that Lanman has come up with something genuinely "nuovo" in this work.
In this work, writing for all instruments is fascinating and varied. The improvisatory B section contrasts strongly with the flanking A sections, and allows the violin a carefully controlled chance to sound like a distorting electric guitar by using vibrato from tasto to sul. ponticello positions on the fingerboard. The piano contrasts long-held pedal passages with lengthy toccata-like passages where use of the pedal is minimized. The instrumental writing throughout is genuinely hypnotic, again in the best sense.
Lanman's contrapuntal sensibilities, especially with regard to harmonic and rhythmic textures, show a sophistication which allows each line to be clearly heard, yet form a whole where each segment of the harmony is completely natural to the piece and not an artificial result of combined counterpoint. Rhythms, while often quite complex are never deliberately so, and only add to the dramatic tension.
Mr. Lanman's self-published manuscripts are a joy to behold in an era where many major publishers do it "on the cheap", and a separate small study score and recording accompany his amply sized performance editions.
il dolce stile nuovo was the winner of the 2002 ASCAP/Morton Gould Young Composer Award. Gregory Hall
(this is a forthcoming review, to be published in the Contemporary Recording Society's "CRS Society News" bulletin.)
Audio: il dolce stile nuovo
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