Julia Wolfe & Ensemble Resonanz – Cruel Sister

Jagger attended the London School of Economics. Keith Richards could afford art school. So much for the street fightin’ man.

During one of my perennial arguments about the Beatles’ negative impact on 20th century life far exceeding their musical influence, I pointed out that Johnny Ray has never been accused of causing any generational conflict, and Sinatra may have been labeled the Chairman of the Board but never claimed to be bigger than Jesus. This popularized rebellion that hurled a generation into a Dionysian spiral came from the Beatles.

Classical music, though seldom thought of as rebellious, has increasingly fused alienation and despair into its ranks by acknowledging Zappa and the Velvet Underground and “tributes” by string quartets. In the mixed-media era, rock bands accompany silent film presentations and clog motion picture soundtracks, so a CD like Cruel Sister foregoes words to worm through Old English ballads about sisters, one bright and bubbly, the other dark and moody, the latter of which drowns her sibling for the love of a suitor. Its second piece, “Fuel,” isn’t about pipeline politics but the kinetic conflict and commerce of import/export acoustic. Drill, ye terriers, drill.

Modern classical music remains a dead language but so, too, is rebellion. It grows ever harder to appreciate grating strings.

Julia Wolfe & Ensemble Resonanz
Cruel Sister
[Cantelope Music]