Carson Kievman has created a series of music theater works that push the boundaries between opera, dance, drama and spectacle... (T)he music and drama [of TESLA] flow organically and effectively... In an era when recurrent storms and climate change are very much in the news, Tesla's story takes on new relevance... The scene at Tesla's Colorado Lab where an explosion takes place while Tesla and Marie are having sex produced heat in more ways than one.. Edison's announcement that he is dying and the final arias of the destitute Tesla and Marie Astor Hampton, a socialite and friend, poignantly evoke tragedy - South Florida Classical Review, Lawrence Budman
(T)he score [TESLA} features a restless, intense, sometimes minimalist musical language that drives relentlessly forward without much respite, mirroring the devotion and passion that Tesla himself exhibited throughout his life'" (A)n impressive piece, written with commitment and performed and produced with excellence from top to bottom. And it also has a quality that gives the most engaging art its urgency: Relevance - Palm Beach Arts Paper, Gregory Stepanich
Literal "hombre del Renacimiento", inabarcable, críptico, misterioso, genio total [TESLA], la famosa respuesta atribuída a Einstein sobre cómo se siente ser el hombre mas inteligente del planeta - "No lo sabría, pregúntenle a Tesla" - lo define todo. Kievman desgrana la historia del genio como una suerte de Monte Rushmore de la ciencia americana. La típica partitura Kievman, con sus patrones repetitivos y líneas que se superponen, entretejen y entrecruzan, es la "corriente" que hace fluir el drama en las trece escenas que lo integran. El estreno de Telsa - en todo sentido "contra viento y marea" ya que el huracán Irma hizo de las suyas y casi lo impide - señala un hito en la trayectoria del compositor, y una nueva ópera en el panorama que merece considerarse mas allá de revisión y síntesis que se antojan imperativas. - Miami Clásica, Sebastian Spreng
[English Translation: Literal "man of the Renaissance", incomprehensible, cryptic, mysterious, total genius [TESLA], the famous response attributed to Einstein on how it feels to be the most intelligent man on the planet - "I would not know, ask Tesla" - defines everything. Kievman takes the story of genius as a sort of Mount Rushmore of American Science. The typical Kievman score, with its repetitive patterns and lines that overlap, interweave and intertwine, is the "current" that makes the drama flow in the thirteen scenes that make it up. The premiere of TESLA - in every sense "against all odds" as Hurricane Irma made its own and almost prevented it - marks a milestone in the composer's career, and a new opera in the panorama that deserved to be considered beyond review and synthesis that seem imperative.]
Itchily innovative composers still can work in New York's popular musical theater. Exhibit A: Stephan Sondheim's Sweeney Todd, the Demon Barber of Fleet Street at the Uris. Exhibit B: Carson Kievman's triple bill of THE TEMPORARY & TENTATIVE EXTENDED PIANO, MULTIBATIONALS & THE HEAVENS and WAKE UP, IT’S TIME TO GO TO BED! at the Public. There may be others. I hope so. Nevertheless, taking into account the recorded samplings I’ve heard from the competition, I have to salute these two shows and none other for fighting the good fight against music-theater solely of, by, and for the tired businessman. As a builder of music-theater constructions, Kievman is a wizard! - The Village Voice, Leighton Kerner
Soundrama causes stir at Fromm festival" "The Soundrama [WAKE UP, IT'S TIME TO GO TO BED!] actually takes place in a single moment-the moment that hovers between one thing and its opposite. Keats talked about it in a line; Joyce expanded it into ?Finnegan?s Wake.? Our Orpheus has a crowded mind early in the morning, and in it childhood memory, present loss, and future resolution are simultaneous presences? Like the primordial beginnings of Wagner?s ?Das Reingold?? It recalls the dawn-garglings of Ravel?s ?Daphnis and Chloe.? Why, one wonders, should the Fromm Foundation subsidize someone?s therapy? On the other hand, great art is supposed to therapeutic for those who make it and for those who respond to it. And it was hard not to respond to this piece. Conflicting and compelling personality emerge from it. I was fascinated and oddly moved. The Boston Globe, Richard Dyer
American Operas in Progress" "CALIFORNIA MYSTERY PARK" finally is an ambitious drama detailing domestic crisis and inter-racial tensions in Postwar America. The central characters are a World War II veteran and his estranged Japanese daughter; in the two scenes presented Wednesday, the drama took place mostly over the phone, with mean-spirited relatives joining in as a chorus. Mr. Kievman, perhaps influenced by Robert Ashley [the composer notes: As of (2/11/98) he has never seen or heard a Robert Ashley work. CMP was written in 1979/80] delights in multilayered textures in which as many as a dozen people (among them Ron Raines, Diane Kesling and the mellifluous Stephanie Park) recite and sing simultaneously. The plot is overloaded, but Mr. Kievman demonstrated considerable virtuosity in shepherding disparate elements together. If the primary emotional themes could be kept distinct this opera might have a powerful effect. Alex Ross, critic New York Times
HAMLET's (Opera) solo monologues are poignantly emotive, the beautiful arioso writing dramatically powerful... the ghost scene is wonderfully eerie... Horatio's final goodnight sweet prince is lyrically potent. - The Miami Herald
"Disordered, chaotic, and messy_irresistible, moving, and sublime" says it all about Carson Kievman's THE TEMPORARY & TENTATIVE EXTENDED PIANO. An amalgam of panic-stricken tonalities, this music presents itself to the fullest degree, incorporating a complex mixture of old and new elements. Versed with a layer-upon-layer feel, at first Kievman's music doesn't seem fitting, as it represents a unique musical polyglot that is unusual and hard to grasp. Hearing obvious influences from Messiaen, Cage, Schoenberg, even Bach, the lack of symmetrical form and stylistic disorientation is at once replaced by the continual evolution and inventiveness that lies underneath. Blending music with the theatrical, visual, and the literary arts, Kievman has unveiled a transparency to his music that relates to joy, pain, and occasionally, the absurd. At times somber and meek, these works have the capacity to suddenly morph into something very powerful. Technical, linear passages progress into shrewd cluster chords that continually move in forward motion, evolving into otherworldly elements. Pianist David Arden performs this collection of Kievman's piano music with controlled reckless abandon. An extreme journey into uncharted musical territory, this fascinating performance is not for the weak of heart. Notes and Editorial Reviews Arkiv Music
"Powerful" New York Times
"It provides one of the most powerful musical experiences I have had in recent times" Spoleto Today - Post and Courier
"THE Marx Brothers (including cousin. Karl) meet the new music in Carson Kievman's madcap program of three “soundramas,” collectively entitled “Wake Up, It's Time to Go to Bed!,” that opened last night in the Public Theater's Luesther Hall." New York Times
"Run to the National Theater if you miss this you have only yourself to blame... it is furious and phenomenal!" Mannheimer Morgen
"Kievman is a Wizard," The Village Voice
"Great Art" The Boston Globe
"Enthralling" The New York Times
"Vigorously innovative and uplifting," Newsday
"Arresting," The Los Angeles Times
"Arresting" The New York Times
"A Sensation" Neue Zurcher Zeitung
"A Major New Trend" The San Francisco Chronicle
"The air was charged with electricity" High Fidelity/Musical Americam Magazine
"Phantasienstrumentarium" Melos fur Neue Musik
"Terrific," Associated Press International
"Astoundingly beautiful and emotionally powerful …imaginative and far reaching" New Sounds-National Public Radio
"It's reminiscent of Arvo Part's music at its most hypnotic and personal" Classical Net
"This is the antithesis of dentist-office music, but late at night, and with maybe a bottle of good scotch at the side, this music should get the wheels turning." Fanfare Magazine
"An extreme journey into uncharted musical territory" Muze
"John Cage would have loved it!" The Miami Herald
"Carson Kievman has created a unique and controversial form of music experience" The New York Post
"Keats...Joyce...Wagner...Ravel...Kievman" The Boston Globe
"A real musical mind," Soho Weekly News
"A striking space-age concept" The Gannet Newspapers
"A sensation" The Village Voice
"A truly original and artistically sensitive work" All Music Guide
"The Marx Bros meet new music" The New York Times
"An original and brilliantly expansive work" All Music Guide
"An endearing tendency to go off the deep end…. original in its outrageous flights of fancy" The Los Angeles Times
"A visionary movement" All Classical Guide
"Kaleidoscopic" The Denver Post
"The 21 minute finale opens into an otherworldly realm that leads in the end to celestial transcendence" Records International
"Gustav Mahler might have written music like this had he been born after World War II" New Times Miami
"An arresting experience… Haunting... the effect of the sudden stop was like a sci-fi spaceship disappearing from view as it enters 'warp-speed'...gripping" Sun Sentinel - Ft Lauderdale
"A special highlight was an 'Excerpt from Orchestra Suite #4' from the opera 'Intelligent Systems'" The SunPost - Palm Beach
"Kievman's work abstracts contemporary life and seeks to find, through a purely intuitive/associative process, an authentic mythology of modern experience" ICI, The List
"One of the best pieces was 'Harpo' (as in Marx)" The Village Voice
"A dream-world of sound. Hymnal strings were flecked with a tinkle of light percussion, and the flow of celestial sound was punctuated by the groans of ominous, deep-throated brasses... intriguing... appealing.... clever.... refreshing" The Miami Herald
"Mr. Kievman's score is a brutal affair that employs both natural and amplified sound. Yet he uses the harshness of most of his sounds, often magnificently contrasted with more ethereal and haunting timbres, to conjure up an aural picture of the hard world in which we live." "...Ordinary Rhythms, choreography by Lynn Taylor-Corbett to a score by Carson Kievman, that was the evening's biggest hit." The Philadelphia Inquirer
"[Kievman] led a compelling, atmospheric performance. Keeping the precise notation and colors aligned and on track in such an intimate space is no mean feat, yet Kievman skillfully balanced Feldman's precisely notated music." The Miami Herald
"A composer to watch out for!" London Magazine
"Carson Kievman is a composer of extremely original music, which is rare" Olivier Messiaen, composer and teacher
"Mr. Kievman ranks among the foremost modern composers" Joseph Papp, producer and mentor
THE VILLAGE VOICE REVIEW June 5, 1979 / Leighton Kerner, critic Writing about a production of Wake Up, It?s Time To Go To Bed!" at the Public Theater, New York City.
"Itchily innovative composers still can work in New York?s popular musical theater. Exhibit A: Stephan Sondheim?s ?Sweeney Todd, the Demon Barber of Fleet Street? at the Uris. Exhibit B: Carson Kievman?s triple bill of "The Temporary & Tentative Extended Piano," "Multinationals & The Heavens," and "Wake Up, It?s Time To Go Bed!" at the Public. There may be others. I hope so. Nevertheless, taking into account the recorded samplings I?ve heard from the competition, I have to salute these two shows and none other for fighting the good fight against music-theater solely of, by, and for the tired businessman. As a builder of music-theater constructions, Kievman is a wizard! Orpheus as a modern artist-musician is depicted in music of isolation. Jazz-like riffs murmur, moan, wail, and scream from separate cells of shadow?the cumulative effect is often overpowering? Kievman and his musicians conspire to reveal a theater where music is not content to accompany speaking, singing, or dancing, and is not inclined, no matter how entertainingly, to imitate non-musical components, but takes over, instrumentally pure, tolerating no accomplice-arts. To the extent that Kievman?s present work achieves this, it is stunning!"
JUST ENOUGH ROPE (TO...)MUSICAL AMERICA/HIGH FIDELITY REVIEW 1978 / Joan La Barbara, music writer
"There are a number of interesting aspects to the music being produced by the younger composers migrating to New York City from universities and music schools all over the country. One of these elements is that of the reintroduction of theater and thearical devices into the concert situation, something which seemed to go out of vogue after the grand explosion of multi-media in the late '60s. Seen through fresh eyes and minds, this new use of theater tends to enliven the performance atmosphere, and bring the audience into closer contact with the participants. In the first of the Composers' Forum concerts of the 1977-78 season (their home this season is the New School), Carson Kievman, a recent import to New York from the Wesy Coast, provided a perfect example of this blend of music and theater in his Just Enough Rope (to...). Scored for four singers (SATB), trap-set drums, marimba, piano, a variety of percussion, prerecorded tape, horns, and strings, it began quiet normally and reasonably with long, rhythmically punctuated sections for all instruments. An ostinato figure, set up initially in the marimba, disappears when the temble block rhythms take over, only to return again in unison with the piano (prepared in the lower register). The singers, whose lines at first mixed rather muddily, began to blend in a lovely choral sound. Suddenly from the audience came a yell, "This isn't music! They told me there was going to be Bach down here." While the musicians continued, a bit shakily, the composer, who was also serving as conductor, turned to the heckler and replied "Do you know how hard it is to get one of these things together?" The staid atmosphere that had prevailed up to that point had been changed in that brief repartee. We were in for something here and the air was charged with electricity. The music continued for a few minutes and the Kievman turned to the heckler again, "Better?" Aha, I thought, just as I suspected. The heckler was part of the piece, one of the performers. The battle between heckler and the composer continued through the evening amid some purposful confusion on the composer's part, calling out section numbers and then changing his mind and redirecting the performers to another part of the piece. As the steel drum took up the ostinato figure and the singers broke into a silly/pseudo-serious chorale, the heckler stormed out. Musically matters continued to worsen, the confusion of sections became wilder and the entire proceedings finally collapsed with a shrug of the composer's shoulders.
A GO-AHEAD FOR LAUGHTERAs theater and as a musical event the performance worked in its spoof of concerts, urging us to laugh at what has become an almost over-serious circumstance in many cases, with the audience too afraid to relax enough to know whether the composer has intended humor. In this case, the confusion between what was real and what not, what mistakes and stumblings were intended and which were the result of the overall melee, contributed to the effect, bringing the audience so far into the piece, empathizing with the performers' plight. that the lines between us vanished. No one seemed quite sure if we were laughing at the performers, at the piece, at each other, or at the situation, but we all seemed to be having fun. I was reminded of some lyrics from a Stanley Silverman/Richard Forman song from their production Dr. Selavy's Magic Theater. The song was a rather dark look at "Life on the inside/looking mighty dim/when you're on the outside looking in." But each time the song reappeared the words "inside" and "outside" were juxtaposed so that one never knew if life was better on the outside or on the inside. Kievman's situation never gave one the feeling of despair of the Foreman/Silverman songs, but the inside/outside confusion was there indeed.
MULTINATIONALS & THE HEAVENSTHE NEW YORK TIMES REVIEW May 17, 1979 / Ken Emerson, criticWriting about a production of Wake Up, It?s Time To Go To Bed!" at the Public Theater, New York City."The Mark Brothers (including cousin Karl) meet the new music in Carson Kievman?s madcap program of three ,Soundramas,? collectively titled: Wake Up, It?s Time To Go To Bed! Mr. Kievman has lavished comic ingenuity upon scoring and staging?.the piece is so entertaining that it?s hard to knit your brow while your laughing uproariously?the music is enthralling? Tours de Farce!"
ORDINARY RHYTHMS (Music for Piano, Percussion and Large Orchestra)THE PHILDELPHIA INQUIRER REVIEW 1983 / Michael Caruso, critic
"Ordinary Rhythms" in World Premiere by Pennsylvania Ballet Theater.
"Ordinary Rhythms "in World Premiere "The Pennsylvania Ballet saved the best for last this past Thursday night when it opened the first of two programs to be performed in June at the Shubert Theater. Although much og the choreography and dancing that preceded it was excellent, it was Ordinary Rhythms, choreographed by Lynn Taylor-Corbett to a score by Carson Kievman that was the evening's biggest hit. Ordinary Rhythms is one of those marvelous new works for dance that combines a good deal of the freedom of movement we sometimes associate only with modern dance with the precision and virtuosity we can only find in ballet. It also employes virtually a full company of dancers, utilizing 14 in varied, well-balanced roles. While not specifically plot oriented in the Romantic tradition, Ordinary Rhythms nonetheless makes a statement. It almost has to because both its music and the dance based upon that music draw inspiration from the popular music and dance of our time, and no one can build a work of art upon the foundation of the sound and look of the punk/new wave phenomenon with making some sort of comment upon it. Mr. Kievman's score is a brutal affair that employs both natural and amplified sound. Yet he uses the harsness of most of his sounds, often magnificently contrasted with more etheral and haunting timbres, to conjure up an aural picture of the hard world in which we live. Miss Taylor-Corbett, fortunately, goes beyond merely reflecting in movement the sound of the score. She paints, via the human body, a picture of a fenzied world deparately searching for some means of contact........ Its risky to call any work a masterpiece after only one view. Still, I think its safe to write that Ordinary Rhythms is certainly a canadate for that appellation.
SONGS OF THE DANDELION WOMAN MANNHEIMER MORGEN REVIEW Sunday January 17, 1995 / Susanne Kaulich, critic
Writing about a workshop of Act 1 from "Songs of the White Woman" during an all Kievman triple-bill at the Mannheim Nationaltheater, Germany.
"Carson Kievmans Verrücktes Musiktheater in Mannheim" "Run to the Nationaltheater, if you miss this you have only yourself to blame ! It is furious and phenomenal ! Liebevolle Ironie/mischt Kievman in die ernste Thematik seiner "Songs of the White Woman". Darin heftet sich Komponist aüf die Spuren einer sogenannten "veruckten", Ahnlichkeiten mit Fällen einer lebenden Person sind nicht zufällig: Inspiriert zu der Ein-Personen-Oper wurde Kievman durch seine New Yorker Nachbarin die den sinn für des Alltagliche verliert und in ihrer eigenen Welt lebt."
MEDITATION NEW SOUNDS - WNYC RADIO Program #1825 Sunday, September 22, 2002 / Hosted by John Schaefer
"Carson Kievman's astoundingly beautiful and emotionally powerful 19-minute 1998 piano work "Meditation" is no less imaginative and far reaching"
HARPO NewMusicBox - The Web Magazine from The American Music Center
October 2003 / "Blue" Gene Tyranny 88 Keys to Freedom: Segues Through the History of American Piano Music - The Perfect and Transparent Keyboard (1980-2000+)
"Carson Kievman's Harpo (1986), although filled with dry humor, is written in a wistful style with plenty of silences that "define the unusual syncopations," according to pianist Joseph Kubera. Deliberate awkward hesitations, and stark contrasts (the innocent F-minor music-box theme interrupted by frantic, dissonant outbursts) all of which heighten the sense of spontaneity and the transparency of the momentary actions. The writing style lies between modal pattern music and the rhythmic angularity of some serial music.
SIROCCO THE NEW YORK CONCERT REVIEW - Imani Winds Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall - November 5, 2001 / Daniel Rosenbluth, critic
Imani means "faith" in Swahili; in any language, this broad and good concept is palpable in the healthy and up-beat pres-entation of the Imani Winds. Presented by Artists Interna-tional as a Winner of its twenty-ninth Annual Young Artists Chamber Music Award, this quintet of players offered the refreshingly new vista that informs their mission as performers and educators.... Another World Premiere, Sirocco by Carson Kievman, opened the program's second half. Mr. Kievman's musical description of this unwelcome wind that blows malcontent through the civilized world was evocative and certainly preferable to the real thing. The Imani Winds shared the applause with Kievman.
REVIEWS OF RECORDINGS
SYMPHONY NO. 2(42). Prerequiem, Elegy, Passage, Ressurection
Polish Radio National Symphony Orchestra - Katowice
Polish Radio Choir of Kraków
Delta David Gier, conductor
New Albion Records (NAR081)
LOS ANGELES TIMES - REVIEW (Christmas 1996)
TOP CLASSICAL CDs OF 1996 - Sunday, ***KIEVMAN, Symphony No. 2(42), New Albion.
" ...an endearing tendacy to go off the deep end.... original in its outrageous flights of fancy." Mark Swed
ALL-MUSIC GUIDE - REVIEW (Fall 1999)
"A truly original and artistically sensitive work"
This orchestral work was commissioned by the Florida Philharmonic Orchestra to honor the 200th anniversary of the death of Mozart. In the radition of such visionary pieces as R. Strauss's "Tod und Verklärung" (Death and Transfiguration), H. Berlioz's "Symphonie Fantastique," Toshiro Mayazumi's "Mandala Symphony," etc., the program of this four-movement work is transcendent and epic in scope, depicting "a metaphorical journey from youth through death, and beyond." In the first movement, "Prerequiem," youthfulness is depicted not with the usual cliché of footloose and fancy free joy, but is shown as a struggle to create and maintain some independent existence in a relatively hostile world. A main theme, built of modal and chromatic steps, perfectly describes this unsettled, restless soul (unusually orchestrated with strings in unison with a melodic (!) tympani line). The melody goes through many variations (psychological modes perhaps), sometimes collapsing into chaos and despair. Eventually a matured tone is attained in a Maestoso section. The initial energy is still heard in recapitulations of the main theme with underlying rushing figures, but that is shaded with the timbres of funereal bells, and the violins and violas played with guitar picks, a sound depicting the mastering of opposing forces. The first movement then slips into its last few minutes as a richly orchestrated elegy including deep bells, church chimes and low horns reminiscent of Russian Orthodox chant or Buddhist ceremony. The second movement begins with a slow, steady melody that alternately evokes despairing, dissonant lines surrounding it, or moves into the rich harmonies of an enlightened understanding achieved toward life's conclusion. The movement concludes with gentle chimes and strings. The third movement, "Passage," begins with a phantasmagoria of chromatically whirling strings and winds, punctuated with percussion, with laughing slides from the brass. This gradually works itself into a flowing landscape of heavenly and hallucinatory imagery, an amazingly original sound. The music settles into a profound and universal peacefulness. The fourth movement suggests a passageway into a new dimension, equally heaven's periphery, the Egyptian (or Greek, etc.) underworld, or another non-earthly transcendent state. The original theme is heard accompanied by quiet drones and gentle undulations, and a flowing, profound and serious peacefulness reigns. The soul however still seems to be pushed on toward ascension to further realms with occasional rushing modulations, by heavenly visions announced by widely spaced bell sounds, and by choral voices urging the soul ever upward. Gamelan-like pulses are heard, and suddenly the Lachrymosa from Mozart's Requiem is quoted. It's chromatic undulations are then sequenced continuously into a massive extension both historical (hints of Mahler, Ives, Ligeti and further 20th-century moderns) and cosmological in its poetry. Then the music just ceases, eternally silent. A truly original and artistically sensitive work. -- "Blue" Gene Tyranny
ALL-CLASSICAL GUIDE (Winter 1998)
"a visionary movement"
The Florida Philharmonic Orchestra commissioned this symphony to observe the 200th Anniversary of the death of Mozart. The first movement concerns youthful ambitions, bravado, and achivement. The opening theme is daring, with timpani taking part in the melodic line. This sound seems to the writer to foreshadow death. Another theme tries to rise to the heights, but is consistently shot down by opposing sounds from the orchestra. The daring youthful themes undertake a battle with the forces of reaction. It gains seriousness and maturity, even though the upper strings all attack in a flurry caused by having them played with guitar picks. The sounds of creativity win out, but there is an elegiac shadow amidst the triumph. Might the cost have been too high?
The second movement is a sad and beautiful one, pondering death and loss. For a while the texture suggests the richly polyphonic texture of the Renaissance composers such as Palestrina or Tallis, but the large number of independent parts joins in the unison of the Classical era. Bells suggest a death knell. But the strings rebuild to a life-asserting theme resulting from acceptance of loss, which gives the artist power. The movement ends peacefully.
The third movement is a scherzo, a bitter, mocking dance of death, with various layers of music proceding in juxtaposed layers in the manner of Ives. Strong chords end this whirling music. These open into the fourth movement, a visionary movement. An English horn theme wanders into a new spiritual realm, where freely moving strings form wave-like textures. This is a vision of the afterlife, calling with seductive power in three glockenspiels and harp. The final movement is the journey towards that realm, a gradual approaching of Mozart's sublime Lacrymosa (from his unfinished Requiem) which emerges from echoes of itself. In the end a multitude of voices coalesce into Oneness. -- Joseph Stevenson
SPOLETO TODAY. THE POST AND COURIER. (Summer 1996)
"It provides one of the most powerful musical experiences I have had in recent times."
"The 13-minute second movement is a elegiac meditation, written shortly after the death of the composer's father. Its sustained string sonorities suggested it may have dropped from the "Sorrowful Songs" of Henryk Gorecki, so angst-ridden and sinewy their tortured harmonic cortege. The ensuing seven-minute "Passage" is a demonic scherzo, a "Totentanz" with Death as a mad jester. Its mania yields to Mahlerian visions of Elysium, with its tintinnabulous imagery of the afterlife providing a serene conclusion. The full symphony, lasting nearly an hour, was written to commemorate the 200th anniversary of Mozart's death. Its final movement is a choral rumination on the "Lacrymosa" from the Mozart Requiem. It provides one of the most powerful musical experiences I have had in recent times." Vincent Plush
DENVER POST. (Summer 1996)
"Splendid new recording." "Kaleidoscopic." Jeff Bradley
RECORDS INTERNATIONAL. (Spring 1996)
"California-born Kievman is an individualist who boldly proclaims a modernized romanticism. The first movement of his 57-minute symphony, dedicated to Mozart and depicting him as a visionary, has stylistic affinities to another visionary, Matthijs Vermeulen, its youthful impetuosity, underscored by the inevitability of time's passage, gives way to an elegiac slow movement. A macabre scherzo follows as a hallucinatory Totentanz, and the 21 minute finale opens into an otherworldly realm that leads in the end to celestial transcendence. A macabre scherzo follows as a hallucinatory Totentanz, and the 21 minute finale opens into an otherworldly realm that leads in the end to celestial transcendence."
NEW TIMES (MIAMI ). (Spring 1996)
"Kievman's symphony is not an attempt to continue or mimic Mozart's work; instead, it roughly illustrates the hypothetical journey of Mozart's soul from eighteenth - century life to eternal afterlife. Quotations from Mozart's Requiem - unfinished at the time of death - are part of this journey's baggage, and these quotations are transformed by a chorus as the symphony reaches its radiant, transcendental conclusion.... Emotional states of terror, joy, resignation and so on are readily identifiable in his music, and its drama is cinematic. In short, Kievman's music challenges adventurous listeners without alienating those with more traditional tastes. Gustav Mahler might have written music like this had he been born after World War II.... It would have been nice if the* FPO had done the honors, but the Polish performers present Kievman's Symphony No 2(42) as if it's a masterwork, which time might prove it to be." Raymond Tuttle
SUN-SENTINEL - FT. LAUDERDALE. (Summer 1996)
"If your feeling both patriotic and musical this Fourth of July, there are several recent recordings of American music worth checking out.... Here are some recommendations:" "CARSON KIEVMAN SYMPHONY NO. 2(42)...NA081. " The Florida Philharmonic commissioned this work for the 200th anniversary of Mozart's death in 1991. Local audiences heard only the last movement of this nearly hour-long score then. Its fascinating to hear the whole ambitious concept.. . " "There is no mistaking the drama... his symphony still adds up to an arresting experience suggesting in places the depth of a Shostakovich ADAGIO. After the chorus sneaks into the picture in the finale, the music gradually melts from Kievman into pure Mozart - the LACRYMOSA from the REQUIEM. Kievman then sends that sublime material into orbit, twisting it upward harmonically until it evaporates. Vivid Sense of instrumental coloring... Haunting... .... the effect of the sudden stop was like a sci-fi spaceship disappearing from view as it enters "warp-speed"....gripping...." Tim Smith
ALL-MUSIC GUIDE (AMG) (Spring 1006)
"An original and brilliantly expansive work by this Florida-based composer. Using the historica and spiritually internal life of (Mozart) as a framework, this incredible piece depicts "a metaphorical journey from youth through death, and beyond." The entry of (Mozart's) Requiem at the finale is developed by (Kievman) into universal realms, truly inspirational and elegantly composed. "Blue" Gene Tyranny
MUSIC WIRE (Internet) (Summer 1996)
"Rated 4 out of 5. A must for avid collectors of 20th-century symphonies. The Polish Radio National Symphony Orchestra play Kievman's opus with admirable intonation, ensemble, and attention to detail, thanks to conductor Gier (another new name at this desk), and the Polish Radio Choir of Krakow aquits itself equally well in the Symphony's dense, nebulae-ic finale. The recording, made June 29 - July 3, 1995 in Katowice is fine, with balances well negotiated. Well recommended."
THE MIAMI HERALD (Christmas 1992)
"An orchestral fantasy floating in a dream-world of sound. Hymnal strings were flecked with a tinkle of light percussion, and the flow of celestial sound was punctuated by the groans of ominous, deep-throated brasses... intriguing... appealing.... clever.... refreshing," James Roos
ADDITIONAL EXAMPLES OF PRESS QUOTES:
"Carson Kievman is a composer of extremely original music, which is rare" - Olivier Messiaen.
"Mr. Kievman ranks Among the foremost modern composers," Joseph Papp.
"Powerful" New York Times. "Run to the National Theater if you miss this you have only yourself to blame... it is furious and phenomenal!" Mannheimer Morgen. "Kievman is a Wizard," Village Voice. "Great Art," Boston Globe. "Enthralling," The New York Times. "Vigorously innovative and uplifting," Newsday. "Arresting," The Los Angeles Times. "A Sensation," Neue Zurcher Zeitung. "Captivating," Tages-Anzeiger. "A Major New Trend," San FRANCISCO Chronicle. "The air was charged with electricity," High Fidelity/Musical America. "Phantasienstrumentarium," Melos fur Neue Musik. "Terrific," Associated Press International. "John Cage would have loved it!" The Miami Herald. "Carson Kievman has created a unique and controversial form of music experience," New York Post. "Keats...Joyce...Wagner...Ravel...Kievman," Boston Globe. "A real musical mind," Soho Weekly News. "A striking space-age concept," Gannet Newspapers. "A sensation," Village Voice. "Enchanting," Newsday. The Marx Bros meet new music," The New York Times. "A composer to watch out for!" London Composer Magazine. "A special highlight was an 'Excerpt from Orchestra Suite #4' from the opera 'Intelligent Systems.' The SunPost. "Kievman's work abstracts contemporary life and seeks to find, through a purely intuitive/associative process, an authentic mythology of modern experience," Lynn Holst, writing for ICI, The List. "Each was arresting...there were welcome touches of quirky humor..in Mr. Kievman's 'Harpo' (as in Marx)," The New York Times. "One of the best pieces was 'Harpo' (as in Marx)," The Village Voice. "Mr. Kievman's score is a brutal affair that employs both natural and amplified sound. Yet he uses the harshness of most of his sounds, often magnificently contrasted with more ethereal and haunting timbres, to conjure up an aural picture of the hard world in which we live." "...Ordinary Rhythms, choreography by Lynn Taylor-Corbett to a score by Carson Kievman, that was the evening's biggest hit." The Philadelphia Inquirer
KIEVMAN - THE TEMPORARY & TENTATIVE EXTENDED PIANO.
Introdictus. Toccatada. Meditation. Harpo. Nuts & Bolts
David Arden, Piano
CRI Emergency Music (845) [DDD] (61:53)
NEW SOUNDS - WNYC RADIO
Hosted by John Schaefer
Airs daily at 11PM on 93.9 FM
Program #1825 Sunday, September 22, 2002
"Carson Kievman's astoundingly beautiful and emotionally powerful 19-minute 1998 piano work "Meditation" is no less imaginative and far reaching"
NEWMUSICBOX - The Web Magazine from The American Music Center
88 Keys to Freedom: Segues Through the History of American Piano Music - The Perfect and Transparent Keyboard (1980-2000+)
By "Blue" Gene Tyranny
© 2003 NewMusicBox
" Carson Kievman's Harpo (1986), although filled with dry humor, is written in a wistful style with plenty of silences that "define the unusual syncopations," according to pianist Joseph Kubera. Deliberate awkward hesitations, and stark contrasts (the innocent F-minor music-box theme interrupted by frantic, dissonant outbursts) all of which heighten the sense of spontaneity and the transparency of the momentary actions. The writing style lies between modal pattern music and the rhythmic angularity of some serial music."
CLASSICAL NET (Fall 2000)
" It's reminiscent of Arvo Part's music at its most hypnotic and personal"
"Carson Kievman came to my attention several years ago with his Symphony No. 2(42), a weighty, transcendent and sometimes hallucinatory memorial to Mozart that rang the changes on music from the Viennese composer's Requiem, specifically the "Lacrymosa." When New Albion Records released their recording of Kievman's Symphony No. 2(42) in 1996 (NA081CD), they indicated that a New Albion CD of the composer's complete piano music, as played by David Arden, was forthcoming. That disc never appeared, now it's here, albeit on a different label. The classical music recording industry is full of mysteries!
Kievman was born in 1949 and received his Masters of FIne Arts degree from the California Institute of the Arts in 1977. He's spent most of his time in Germany and in the United States, and his music has been used by dance companies and in museums, as well as in the more traditional theaters and concert halls. Recently, Kievman was granted a Naumberg Fellowship to Princeton University. He's been around and received some acclaim, yet I believe that this is only the second all-Kievman CD to become available.
This disc's overall title is The Temporary & Tentative Extended Piano, which is the earliest work here, and the last on the CD. It is a kind of mad music theater, one performing version of this piece requires a page-turning "Butler" and several other "Servants," and the pianist sits on aq spring-supported platform where he also has access to cowbells. The work ends with the performer collapsing in exhaustion. It is in this format that the work was performed for Joseph Papp's New York Shakespeare Festival, and page 3 of CRI's booklet has the photograph to prove it. The work starts like Messiaen (a Kievman mentor and becomes progressively more disheveled, as an angry shout from the pianist further suggests! It alternates between obsessive bell-ringing (on the keyboard, more than away from it) and grimly tolling passages in the piano's lower regions. Six minutes in, a vulnerable melody appears in the right hand, but is soon borne away by the vertiginous action that culminates in the pianist's staged breakdown. What it all means is anyone's guess, but it is fun, even without the visual component.
The other substancial piece on this CD is Meditation, which was begun in 1992 and completed in 1998. It is in two sections and is 24 minutes long. The booklet describes the first section as "a descent into Hades in slow motion," and Kievman requests very slow tempos from the pianist. The juxtaposition of very loud and very soft chords (with many pregnant pauses in between) creates a frozen or marmorcal effect. Kievman reinforces this effect with nature noises -- thunder, rain, cicadas -- another mysterious choice, but again, one that is moving rather tha New Agey. Later, the music takes on a nostalgic -- but not sweet! -- quality. Bells toll again, both in the piano and apart from it. It's reminiscent of Arvo Part's music at its most hypnotic and personal. The other four works on this CD complement the two featured pieces. All except Harpo (1986, the composer's return to composing after a three-year hiatus) were written in the 1990s. The booklet aptly describes Toccatada as "an almost dadistic toccata... in the spirit of Nancarrow playing Prokofiev playing Bach." The tempo is "as fast as possible."
David Arden, a true hero to composers of modern keyboard music, makes Kievman's quirky creations viable. The engineers have gifted Arden and Kievman with good sound. This unusual CD is well worth your explorations." -- Raymond Tuttle
FANFARE MAGAZINE (Summer 2000)
"This is the antithesis of dentist-office music, but late at night, and with maybe a bottle of good scotch at the side, this music should get the wheels turning."
"But is this music listenable? Very much so. Kievman writes with craft, humor, and imagination. The first two brief works, Introdictus and Toccatada, are virtuoso cascades of notes, but are tautly conceived, in the manner of the Chopin Etudes. Harpo is a longer, more elastic composition that honors the remarkable combination of focus and freedom in the jazz piano work of Keith Jarrett and the late Bill Evans.
Meditation is the most ambitious work on the program, long and full of silences. At 24 1/2 minutes, the piece presents a serious challenge to the patience of the listener for this type of material. Most performances of the monumental slow movement of Beethoven's Hammerklavier are shorter. Does Kievman live up to his audacity? Yes and no. Beethoven is a faulty comparison, as his music is linear and ariose. Kievman seems to be influenced, more than anything, by the primeval rhythms of nature, which do not always correspond to the man-made laws of music in the Western world. In some sections, the pianist plays sparsely arrayed chords as cicadas chirp and streams burble on tape. Elsewhere, the piano mimics the relentless noise of the general ambient landscape. The contrast of the faultless logic of the natural sonic environment and the contemplative, very human exposition of Kievman's musical ideas is poignant and provocative. The composer might disagree, but this sounds like existential music to my ears. This is the antithesis of dentist-office music, but late at night, and with maybe a bottle of good scotch at the side, this music should get the wheels turning.
Kievman's interest in the music of nature is overtly confirmed in the piece Nuts & Bolts, which, like his 1995 Symphony ("Hurricane"), was inspired by the composer's own devastating experience during the 1992 hurricane disasters in South Florida, where he lives [NOTE: Carson Kievman now lives in Princeton, New Jersey]. The music is less abstract and intellectual than in Meditation; indeed, it is virtually programmatic. An interesting touch is the inclusion of the "Fate" theme from Beethoven's Fifth Symphony in the coda, an illusion, perhaps, to the composer that most closely resembles a force of nature in the human form.
The title work on this CD, The Temporary & Tentative Extended Piano, arrives at the end of the program as a sort of summary of the clutch of musical ideas that Kievman presents in the preceding material. This is a theater work, and there are, we are told, a number of visual effects that enhance the piece. The work is enticing as a stand-alone musical piece, full of humor and surprise. Pianist David Arden, the dedicatee for this 1977 composition, plays it with the same power and intelligence that he displays on the balance of the program." -- Peter Burwasser
"Disordered, chaotic, and messy_irresistible, moving, and sublime" says it all about Carson Kievman's THE TEMPORARY & TENTATIVE EXTENDED PIANO. An amalgam of panic-stricken tonalities, this music presents itself to the fullest degree, incorporating a complex mixture of old and new elements. Versed with a layer-upon-layer feel, at first Kievman's music doesn't seem fitting, as it represents a unique musical polyglot that is unusual and hard to grasp. Hearing obvious influences from Messiaen, Cage, Schoenberg, even Bach, the lack of symmetrical form and stylistic disorientation is at once replaced by the continual evolution and inventiveness that lies underneath. Blending music with the theatrical, visual, and the literary arts, Kievman has unveiled a transparency to his music that relates to joy, pain, and occasionally, the absurd. At times somber and meek, these works have the capacity to suddenly morph into something very powerful. Technical, linear passages progress into shrewd cluster chords that continually move in forward motion, evolving into otherworldly elements. Pianist David Arden performs this collection of Kievman's piano music with controlled reckless abandon. An extreme journey into uncharted musical territory, this fascinating performance is not for the weak of heart.
RECORDS INTERNATIONAL (June 2000)
CARSON KIEVMAN (b.1949): Introdictus, Toccatada, Meditation, Harpo, Nuts & Bolts, The Temporary & Tentative Extended Piano. Paulo Pesenti's funny and illuminating booklet notes say a good deal of what need to be said about Kievman's music as presented on this disc. "Love for the extremes, fascination with nature, playful theatricality are three recurrent features. His music can be disordered, chaotic and messy. It can be irresistable, moving and sublime. It can be both sophisticated and naive, incomprehensible and transparent, frustrating and exciting. Worse, the bits that first sound like one thing become the opposite thing after repeated listening and vice versa. The proof is in the pudding." [Mr Pesenti is the second person I have known to malapropize this common expression, but the chances of his being acquainted with British electronics genius and noted eccentric Tim de Paravicini are, one would imagine, slight].  If one needs an (ugly) neologism to describe the essence of Kievman's music, this can only be "strato-stylistic" (I said it was ugly). Like radiccio or archaeology, the music of Kievman is about layers on layers on layers". Yeah, what he said. The music is similarly entertaining. David Arden (piano). CRI CD 845 (U.S.A.) 06B095