Julius Eastman - Femenine (Apartment House) CD 28324
[Another Timbre]

Julius Eastman - Femenine (Apartment House) CD 28324
Julius Eastman’s great ensemble piece from 1974, played by Apartment House ensemble

Simon Limbrick, vibraphone
Kerry Yong, piano
Mark Knoop, keyboard
Mira Benjamin, violin
Anton Lukoszevieze, cello
Emma Williams, flute
Gavin Morrison, flute

"The main reason his music was forgotten about was because it was unavailable and (much of it) lost. As I mentioned it is thanks to Mary Jane Leach that we have much of the material that is performed now. Other people such as Clarice Jensen did amazing work reconstructing such a work as the 10 cello piece The Holy Presence of Joan Arc from an archive recording. Additionally I think that the mainstream music world, the uptown world, the world of music publishers, were not particularly interested in rediscovering the more experimental work of Julius, which can involve improvisation and a more flexible, intuitive approach to performing music.

What is relevant about Femenine now, in 2019? I am not sure, but there is an acknowledgment that this is very good music, that it is music that comes alive when performed with care and commitment, a lot of pieces are only as good as what the musicians put into them. This is of course quite a 60-70's thing in experimental music, we see it in realising the music of Christian Wolff for example. Julius' music is also quite ecstatic and to my ears gives audiences and performers alike pleasure, whether from some kind of organic groove or a totally passionate immersive experience. Femenine grows from a simple 2 note rhythmic cell in the vibraphone, which is repeated for the full duration of the piece, and in the background we have an asynchronous aural 'curtain' of sleigh bells. Gradually the instruments join this cell, merge with it and interplay in many, many different ways, so that the progress of the work is very much a journey, or like the opening of many beautiful flowers. There are moments of strangeness, instability, joy, melancholy and an aural fascination with heterophonic intricacy and intimacy. Lastly, Femenine is communal music, it instills a sense of community within the listening experience, it is honest and unselfish, it is something we aspire to, it is great music."