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WOLFE, J.: Steel Hammer (Bang on a Can All-Stars, Mediaeval Trio)

WOLFE, J.: Steel Hammer (Bang on a Can All-Stars, Mediaeval Trio)

The Classical Shop
release date: April 2014

Originally recorded in 2014

Artists:

Bang on a Can All-Stars

Ensemble

Bang on a Can All-Stars

Chamber

Record Label
Cantaloupe

Genre:

Chamber


Classical

Total Time - 68:33
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WOLFE, J.: Steel Hammer (Bang on a Can All-Stars, Mediaeval Trio)

     
Select Complete Single Disc for
 

JULIA WOLFE

     
 

Steel Hammer

 
1 Some Say 09:48
2 The States 09:48
3 Destiny 11:05
4 Mountain 08:51
5 Characteristics 05:47
6 Polly Ann - The Race 15:49
7 Winner 01:22
8 Lord, Lord 06:03
     
 Bang on a Can All-Stars Ensemble


Inspired by her love for the music and lore of Appalachia, Julia Wolfe based her text for Steel Hammer (called a "wild hybrid" by the New York Times) on over 200 versions of the "John Henry" ballad, which has been recorded by everyone from Johnny Cash to Bruce Springsteen. A runner-up for the 2010 Pulitzer Prize, Steel Hammer features the alternately haunting and playful vocalizations of Norway’s renowned Trio Mediaeval, and stretches the standard instrumentation of the Bang on a Can All-Stars with wooden bones, mountain dulcimer, banjo, clapping, clogging and much more.

"Steel Hammer was inspired by my love for the legends and music of Appalachia," Wolfe explains. "It’s a return to my musical roots in folk music, and when I wrote the piece, I looked to the breadth of musicianship in the Bang on a Can All-Stars. Trio Mediaeval was also a key inspiration, because they bring a beautiful pure sound and a real depth of emotion to the work. And last but not least, I was moved by the myriad of songsters, some known, some not-so-known, who filled my ears with their own personal versions of the John Henry ballad."

Steel Hammer premiered in November 2009 at the University of Florida, and eventually made its way to Carnegie’s Zankel Hall for its New York debut. Writing for the New Yorker, Alex Ross referred to the work as "...a musical archaeology of a familiar tale -- one that preserves, even enlarges, its central mystery." In exploring the subject of human vs. machine in the quintessential American tall tale, Steel Hammer evokes a swirling gumbo of folk, bluegrass, post-minimalist and classical motifs, each referring back to the other in a call-and-response ritual that breathes new life into the legend.

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