Nancy Van de Vate

WHERE THE CROSS IS MADE

...Nancy Van de Vate (is) without question one of the most talented and sheerly original composers of our time…Cross is a masterpiece, building in rhythm, harmony and melody through an almost unbroken wave of sound initiated by a syncopated figure and propelling the opera to its inexorable conclusion. The plot, based on a Eugene O'Neill play, concerns the efforts of Nat Bartlett to get his sea-captain father, Isaiah, committed to an asylum. Isaiah, lost his ship, the Mary Allen, at sea seven years ago, yet he persists on sitting in his attic room which he has fixed up like a captain's cabin, waiting for the ship to dock so he can go to sea again to look for a treasure buried "where the cross is made." Sadly, the Mary Allen was sunk at sea, along with its crew but not its captain....
Van de Vate builds her scenes in an almost unbroken line from start to finish…(She) creates emotional soundscapes through simple yet effective building blocks of sound:.. for instance, at the line "Without light, they become dreams of his, dreams…" the music enters an eerie, atonal realm ....dominated by celesta and high strings. Variations of this motif return each time the word is sung again; eventually, the "dreams" motif is distorted for the word "madness." When Nat describes himself as "the broken thing I am," the music breaks up behind him in syncopated drum figures.
... Aria, arioso, sung recitative and duet flow seamlessly into each other… Despite her deft use of effects, it is not a work that dwells on or insists on them. The music "follows" the words, like the best lieder. The arias in this work are dovetailed seamlessly, as they are in late Verdi or (perhaps a better comparison) Debussy. If you enter her sound world with an open mind and heart, you will find yourself drawn in-and you will stay there 'til the very end.

All in all... a superb piece of music

Fanfare Magazine, Lynn René Bayley
March 2008


IM WESTEN NICHTS NEUES

...Hermann Bäumer (38): " Das ist sehr reizvoll, schließlich betreten wir Neuland, es gibt keine Vorbilder." Sehr gut komponiert sei das Stück. Ein besonderer Kunstgriff ist die Klammer, das Einleitungsthema wird am Schluss wiederholt: "Aber man nimmt es ganz anders wahr."
Osnabrücker Nachrichten, Kultur und Szene
28.09.2003


... Nancy Van de Vate hat dazu eine bildhafte Musik geschrieben. Sie entwirft zarte Streichergespinste, entfesselt marialische Urkräfte, lässt das Unheil brodeln. Und sie zeigt auch Mut zur Komik: Zu munter punktierten Rhythmen versuchen Paul Bäumer und Kameraden, in den Armen dreier Französinnen die Kriegsschrecken zu vergessen.
Osnabrücker Zeitung, NEUE OZ
30.09.2003


... Nancy Van de Vate ist bekannt für die packende Bearbeitung politischer Themen, dafür stehen neben ihrem Orchesterwerk Tschernobyl auch die Vietnam Krieg-Metapher An American Essay oder Eastern Front nach einem Text von Georg Trakl.
Die Berliner Tageszeitung
2.-3. 10.2003


... Die musikalische Leitung von "Im Westen Nichts Neues" hat der kommissarische Generalmusikdirektor Hermann Bäumer inne. Bäumer wurde für ein Jahr von seinen Pflichten als Posaunist bei den Berliner Philharmonikern freigstellt und ist mit Beginn der Spielzeit 2003/2004 nach Osnabrück gekommen.
Als "zwar düster, aber sehr farbig" empfindet Bäumer die Musik van de Vates. "Unglaublich stark" findet er die Schlusstakte der Oper, die mit dem Anfang identisch sind: "Man hört dasselbe, aber unter völlig anderem Eindruck." Die Individuen und ihre Einzelschicksale stünden auch musikalisch im Vordergrund, etwa in den langen solistischen Rezitativen. Außerdem sei die Oper "ein beeindruckendes Gesamtkunstwerk".
Osnabrücker Zeitung, NEUE OZ
25.09.2003


... Die Aufführung ist in der Tat nicht nur für Osnabrück Frankfurter Allgemeine
30.09.2003


PURA BESAKIH

......Van de Vate... Flaunting a lyric delicacy that shimmers with mystery, Nancy Van de Vate's "Pura Besakih (Besakih Temple)" is a musical description of the largest and most venerated shrine on the Indonesian island of Bali. ... The piece is a balance of gentleness and violence that typifies not only the nature of religion but the essence of humanity.
Tucson Citizen Tucson, Arizona
12.01.1995


VIENNA MODERN MASTERS CD 2006

... Van de Vate knows her stuff...everything here is exceedingly well-crafted for forces ranging from solo string instruments to full orchestra; stylistically it covers the water-front....
American Record Guide
Jul./Aug. 1994


VIOLIN CONCERTO No. 1

... Klassisch im Bau, von kühler Harmonik in meist freier Tonalität, mit gelegentlich leicht "orientalisch" anmutendem Kolorit in der Rhythmik und durch die Verwendung des phrygischen Modus im Finalsatz verfehlt es nicht seine Wirkung, zumal auch das Orchester sehr flexibel begleitete.
Die Presse
28.07.1992


TEUFELSTANZ

... Von den vier Uraufführungen beeindruckte Nancy Van de Vates "Teufelstanz" für sechs Schlagzeuger durch die Geschlossenheit des Werkes und den furiosen Wechsel des Themas von den Trommeln, über die Bongos, Marimbas, Gongs in machtvolle Unisono-Schläge. Die Krakauer musizierten hinreißend.
Passauer Neue Presse
27.02.1989


... Kompositorische Ausgewogenheit in wechselreicher Dynamik belegte schon zu Beginn eine Suite in vier Sätzen der Amerikanerin Nancy Van de Vate. Der dämonische Furor verheißende Obertitel "Teufelstanz" kann leicht dazu verführen, nur ein illustratives Höllenspektakel zu erwarten. Möglichen Assoziationen beugte jedoch der streng formale Aufbau vor, verpflichtet den Gesetzen großer symphonischer Musik.
Münchner Merkur
28.02.1989


JOURNEYS

"Journeys" is an exotic piece written in the early 1980s by Nancy Van de Vate. The single-movement piece combines gentle ostinato rhythmic figures with bell-like sounds, solo cadenzas for various players and occasional full-orchestra outbursts. It is unified in concept, assured in ist technical working-out and comunicative in an idiom that is conservative but highly individual.
Cleveland Plain Dealer
29.05.1988


... the composer tends to paint with blocks of chord-colors, from which individual lines frequently emerge. Somehow, it is a cleansing, bracing sound, and rather serious in mood. There is nothing of the overtly coloristic or intentionally travelogueish here. If Van de Vate has absorbed some ot the sound of, say, Bali into her ear, she employs it as it comes naturally; it is no attempt to be deliberately exotic. Van de Vate obviously has an original musical imagination.
Stevenson Compact Disc, Review Guide
Jan.-Feb. 1988


DISTANT WORLDS

... hers is a distinctively individual voice, more melodic and carefully sculpted than Druckman's and that such expertly written music has not come to my attention before now looks to make a good case for sex discrimination. ... Van de Vate builds up each sound mass in discrete layers, and she spends her best moments hovering in misty anticlimaxes. In short, the exotic sonorities will delight those who listen sensuously. Yet the music stays close enough to melody to suit those who consider that aspect essential
Fanfare
Jan.-Feb. 1988


NINE PRELUDES FOR PIANO

... As you would expect, slow and fast preludes alternate. But what isn't expected are the delicacies and shadings Van de Vates gives to the slow pieces, which then contrast exceptionally well to the hammered-out, perpetuum-mobile preludes. The harmonic idiom is never harsh. A fine grouping.
Fanfare
May/Jun 1987


COCAINE LIL

... "Cocaine Lil"...hier verwischen sich die Grenzen zwischen Neuer Musik und Jazz, der Dietburg Spohr hörbar nahe liegt. Freiheit der Gestaltung und festgelegte Notation verbindet stilsicher, so daß auch der Trauermarsch aus Chopins Klaviersonate in b-Moll in diesem Zusammenhang keineswegs deplaziert wirkt.
Frankfurter Allgemeine

MUSIC FOR VIOLA, PERCUSSION AND PIANO

..I was really intrigued instead by the first item. A wild and zany percussion piece by a feminine whirlwind of a musical activist who, by the sound of her brief biography on the jacket, never stops running. Except maybe to compose. ... As for the lady, she is an original, all right! ....very expertly put together.
Audio
Oct. 1981


... Her absolutely brilliant usage of the sparse instrumental forces employed in fact does sometimes tonally assume the proportions of an entire symphony orchestra... Whirlwind passages, so colorfully orchestrated in the opening movement, the Bartokian forest-at-night moods of the second and the relentless ostinato figures in the finale are each, in their own way, fascinating and compelling. The piano is, except for brief stretches of melodic line, employed for the most part as a percusiion intrument (which it of course is...)
American Record Guide
June 1981



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