Chamber Music Society of the Monterey Peninsula, Sunset Center Theater, February 14, 1995, Southwest String Quartet

Coast Weekly, February 23, 1995, Scott MacClelland

The performance was clear and concise, detailing a variety of effects emphasizing exotic colors and new forms on which to hang its musical inventions.  Having gained from other important contemporary developments  … , Lesemann took on the challenge boldly and provided conclusive evidence of new life in a tradition of composition that had grown morbidly rootbound.  Ostinato, a mainstay of the classical tradition, supplies an essential foundation in this work (as it has for much recent music) which releases remarkable energy from minimal materials.  In the process, Lesemann fulfills the same premise of every serious artist, and with far better results than most; as Picasso put it, "Forcing yourself to use restricted means is the sort of restraint that liberates invention."

60th Birthday Concert at the Armory

Southwest Chamber Music Society, Soliloquy Series, Pasadena, May 9, 1997

Los Angeles Times, May 12, 1997, John Henken

In music, technological energies of late have been largely invested in linking electronic effects and live performance.  So the belated 60th birthday concert for Frederick Lesemann, presented by the Southwest Chamber Music Society Saturday evening at the Armory Center for the Arts, proved an uncommon celebration, consisting as it did of seven of Lesemann's prerecorded electronic pieces unmediated by human performers.

Lesemann does not compose only via electronics. He was for many years the director of the Electronic Music Studio at USC, where all of the works on the program were created between 1975 and 1992, and his technological expertise is unquestioned. He can parse a lone coyote howl into a fiercely chattering ballet mécanique as he does in "Shotsona (Trickster's Dance)," and he can transmute a broad broken synthesized chord into a stairway to heaven as in "Angels' Flight."

For the joy of pure pulse power there was "Hammer Phase," a completely synthetic exercise in monomania. "Ordnal's Frenzy" is a more varied character piece, sort of amiable computer parlor music, while "Mesita Dreams" layers synthesized counterpoint over a recording of natural sounds from a New Mexico countryside. The prosaic first of Lesemann's "Paradiso XXI (Five Visions From Dante)" is less successful artistically than the magical third; both involve deconstructing recorded spoken passages.

Many of these soundscapes resonate in interesting ways with works in the Armory's "Romanticism and Contemporary Landscape" exhibition, and the audience was encouraged to walk around the gallery while the music was played. The experience proved at once both more intense and more isolating, as everyone in the audience created their own interactive multimedia performance.