Music: American Premières

Contemporary American music sometimes sounds as if it were written on an electronic computer: the arithmetic adds up, but every sum sounds the same. Last week U.S. audiences were introduced to the recent works of five U.S. composers whose figuring, however it comes out, is at least distinctive. The five and their formulas:

Henry Cowell, 63, turned up in Kansas City for the première of his 22-minute Concerto for Percussion and Orchestra. Using 64 percussion instruments, the concerto featured five percussion "soloists," whose duties proved so complex that they had to dart...

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