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Lukas Foss

String Quartet No. 3 (1976)
Music for Six (1977)
Curriculum Vitae (1977)
Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird (1978)

Columbia String Quartet; University of Buffalo Percussion Ensemble; Guy Klucevsek, accordion; RoseMarie Freni, mezzo-soprano; Robert Dick, flute; Jan Williams, percussion;Yvar Mikhashoff, piano

New World Records 80703 (compilation from CRI LPs)

Lukas Foss (1922-2009), who died last year, was one of the most accomplished of experimental American composers of the 20th Century and this compilation of re-issues is greatly to be welcomed and enjoyed.

The uncompromising string quartet " themeless, tuneless, and restless - - probably the first quartet without a single pizzicato since Haydn" was rehearsed for the composer at an airport. An abrasive, tough piece, it’s been characterized as a “minimalist Grosse Fuge”.

Curriculum Vitae is a fine contribution to the virtuoso accordion repertoire. It "highlights the nostalgic component of Foss’ sensibility, incorporating materials from Brahms and Mozart – Foss also quotes the Nazi anthem, a reminder of his refugee roots" [Bill Shoemaker].

“Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird” sets epigrammatic poems by Wallace Stevens; the texts are on-line at Emily Ezust's site.

It is especially welcome to me as featuring pianist Yvar Mikhashoff, a crucial figure in London's contemporary music scene at the Almeida Festival in the '80s.

Recommended, especially to UK readers for whom Lukas Foss' is a not well known name.

Peter Grahame Woolf

See also Foss's complete piano works recorded by Scott Dunn & Beliavsky