Stephen Hartke is concerned, not with effect, but with affect, not with novel sounds or concepts but with all the sounds, concepts, and experiences that affect him and could affect his listeners. He is not eclectic, but synthesistic. His music capitalizes not only on the breadth of his musical experience and general erudition, but also on the musical experience of his generation, which grew up enjoying access through recordings and broadcast to many different musical eras, genres, and languages. Messiaen, Bartok, Ives, jazz, gagaku, gamelan, samba, plainchant , pre-Renaissance polyphony (to cite a few influences) and a deep interest in visual art are all filtered through Hartke's ecumenical sensibility and inform his rich, colorful, lyrical and rhythmically vital compositions, three of which-- Sonata-Variations (1984) for violin and piano, The King of the Sun (1988) for piano quartet, and Night Rubrics (1990), for solo cello--are featured on this collection. Hartke has recently been singled out by The New York Times as one of the more important figures of the post-Babbitt generation of younger American composers.
Reviews"The evening's most memorable piece was the handiwork of ... Stephen Hartke. Hartke's The King of the Sun wove its subtle magic by playing off piano against strings in a syncopated pas de deux, and then pouring all voices together in a twisted form of Renaissance-style polyphony. You didn't have to crack the code in order to enjoy." - Washington Post