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Ensembles as Canons for Innovation

Stir-fried Chicken and walnuts

Stir-fried Chicken and Walnuts

By Tim Hazell

Eighteenth-century Europe and England in particular, witnessed unprecedented prosperity, and a burgeoning, educated middle class. The newly affluent attended opera houses, salons, private homes and pleasure gardens to enjoy diverse entertainments and music. Handel dominated the venues for opera and the oratorio, but William Boyce, Joseph Gibbs, Michael Festing and others were composing chamber music for small ensembles and plush cloisters in the homes of wealthy patrons.

The Classical era and flowering of the Romantics changed the face of Western society. Europe saw revolution, the Franco Prussian War, invention of the telegraph and internal combustion engine. Frederic Chopin enlarged the repertoire for solo piano, expanding the instrument’s range, as well as its impact on modern music. Franz Schubert’s personality and style exemplified the Romantic ideal.

Later Expressionist composers such as Schoenberg and Paul Hindemith took chamber music into unexplored territory and new directions. Schoenberg, evolving from his early tonal works to later use of dissonance, insisted that this new textural development was simply a logical evolution. Modern movements in classical genres, as well as jazz were classified using similar phrases, appearing in critiques by the establishment that applied to visual arts and architecture.

Minimalism, for example, was characterized by the absence of adornments such as modulation, in pursuit of a stripped down functionality. This device is generally understood as a theory of major/minor tonality. Perceptually, tonality can express a migration and return to a hub, or central reference point. In relationships between sciences and post-tonality in music, processes of cognition take the form of principles that delineate our private responses to change, such as intuition.

Definitions of temporality in music may confirm or refute certain absolutes. In composition, properties of elasticity pertain to tempo, rhythmic and metric structures, allowing for the possibility of anti-narrative techniques and non-linear motion. Prolific composer and theorist John Milton Cage Jr. (1912 – 1992) is remembered for his use of the I Ching to create music involving chance, and for his 1952 composition “4’33;” (Four minutes and 33 seconds of silence)” Cage was an avid macrobiotic cook during his later years. His estate provides us with this robust stir fry!

 

Walnut Chicken (a la Cage)

 

Ingredients:

2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1/2 inch cubes

2 tbsp light soy sauce

1 tbsp. white wine

1 inch piece ginger, peeled and minced

1 tsp. cornstarch

1 tsp. sugar

2 scallions, sliced diagonally

3 garlic cloves, peeled and sliced

1 cup walnuts or pecans, coarsely chopped

2 tsp. sesame oil

3 tbsp oil

 

Directions:

Marinate chicken breast cubes in soy sauce, wine, sugar and ginger overnight. Heat 2 tbsp. oil in a wok or large heavy skillet. Stir fry garlic and nuts. After three minutes transfer them to a bowl. Blend cornstarch with chicken cubes. Heat remaining 1 tbsp. oil. Add chicken and marinade to wok. Stir fry about 10 minutes, until chicken is tender. Toss in the nuts, garlic, scallions and sesame oil. Serve with rice and a green vegetable

 

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