Thursday, November 22, 2007

HurdAudio Rotation: BBA

Ludwig van Beethoven: The Symphonies [disc 3]. Recorded in 1994. The International Music Company: 205298-305.

Symphony No. 4 in B flat major (op.60)
Barry Wordsworth: conductor
The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra
Symphony No. 5 in C minor (op.67)
Claire Gibault: conductor
The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra

The chronology of these two works is interesting. With Beethoven taking a break from composing the fifth symphony to knock out the fourth to fulfill a commission. And ever since that fourth symphony has lived in the imposing shadow of the fifth. While it clearly is a throwback to the more classical style of Beethoven's early period it does have some impressive thematic development along with an irresistible churning energy that builds in surprising ways. But given the phenomenal journey that the fifth symphony puts the listener through it's easy to see why it receives so much more attention relative to the more classical fourth. The path into that final overture movement is still a thrill ride even after the familiarity and the challenge of hearing past the opening "duh-duh-duh-duh" that has since become an unfortunate cliche.

Ludwig van Beethoven: The Complete Quartets, volume II. Recorded in 1989. Delos: CD 3032.

String Quartet in G Major op. 18 no. 2
String Quartet in B flat Major op. 130

The Orford String Quartet
Andrew Dawes: violin
Kenneth Perkins: violin
Terence Helmer: viola
Denis Brott: cello

The juxtaposition of early and late works - as is frequently done in this collection - helps show off the sharp contrast between Beethoven's early and late periods. And these ears continue to gravitate toward the sprawling, inventive later works while retaining an appreciation for the classical excellence of the early period. Here the opus 130 consists of six movements of fluctuating duration and proportions. This lends the work an organic quality missing from the more rigidly constructed opus 18. Both works are polished with extraordinary attention to detail and developmental unity. And those are qualities that make this music so durable.

Albert Ayler: Holy Ghost box set [disc 1]. 2004. Revenant Records: 213.

Herbert Katz Quintet - June 30, 1962, Helsinki, Finland
Herbert Katz: guitar
Albert Ayler: tenor saxophone
Teuvo Suojarvi: piano
Heikki Annala: bass
Martti Aijanen: drums

Cecil Taylor Quartet - November 16, 1962, Copenhagen, Denmark
Cecil Taylor: piano
Jimmy Lyons: alto saxophone
Albert Ayler: tenor saxophone
Sunny Murray: drums

Albert Ayler Trio - June 14, 1964 - Cellar Cafe, New York City
Albert Ayler: tenor saxophone
Gary Peacock: bass
Sunny Murray: drums

Each time through the first disc of this box set I am again struck by the contrast and the unfolding chronology of Ayler finding his personal voice in Europe. From the forgettable lounge music jazz standards at the onset of this disc to the heat of the sparks that kick up once Ayler connects with drummer Sunny Murray. And in the middle of this experience is the twenty minutes of bliss that is the Cecil Taylor Quartet of 1962. That track is one of the great gems of this collection.

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