Saturday, May 03, 2008

HurdAudio Rotation: From the Pastoral to the Ferocious

Ludwig van Beethoven: The Symphonies [disc 4] Recorded in 1993. The International Music Company: 205298-305.

Symphony No. 6 in F major (op. 68) "Pastorale"

Conductor: Mark Ermler
The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra

The exercise is to somehow hear past the crushing familiarity, past the iconic quality of this work into a renewed listening experience. Sitting down and hearing this work from beginning to end helps with this challenge. The snippets and excerpts one knows so well (particularly if they endured a History of Western Music course in undergraduate school) practically leap out within the first movement. Beyond those touch points the structure that makes this symphonic work so statuesque begins to make itself known to the ears. The languid, "pastoral" poetry rendered within a classical, tonal language.

Ludwig van Beethoven: The Complete Quartets Volume III. 1994. Delos: DE 3033.

String Quartet in F Major, Op. 59, No. 1 ("Razumovsky")
String Quartet in A Major, Op. 18, No. 5

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

The Opus 18 is as polished and refined as the classical language gets. The lessons learned from Haydn are applied and worked into sheen so smooth one can almost see their own reflection in this music. Then there is the Opus 59, the first of the "Razumovsky" quartets. This is one of these transition period works where Beethoven has applied the same level of polish and attention to detail even as he begins to fray the edges of classical tradition. The influence of his teacher has faded as his personal voice comes through. It's a fascinating work with multiple levels of material unfolding throughout its form.

Albert Ayler: Holy Ghost [box set - disc 2]. 2004. Revenant Records: 213.

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

Albert Ayler Quartet - September 3, 1964 @ Cafe Mantmartre, Copenhagen, Denmark
Albert Ayler: tenor saxophone
Don Cherry: cornet
Gary Peacock: bass
Sunny Murray: drums

Burton Greene Quintet - February 1966 @ Slugs', New York City
Burton Greene: piano
Albert Ayler: tenor saxophone
Frank Smith: tenor saxophone
Steve Tintweiss: bass
Rashid Ali: drums

Albert Ayler could soar into some high altitude improvisations, seemingly untethered to the material world even as the earthy melodies of "Spirits," "Mothers" or "Children" maintain a soft hold on his flights of fancy. With the rhythm section of Gary Peacock and Sunny Murray soaring right along side his free improvisations these live recordings compiled for the Holy Ghost box set offer a slice of Ayler's artistic development in the wake of finding creative allies to back up his high flying ideas and confident voice. Adding Don Cherry to this group just makes this disc that much more worth the spin with a quartet willing to calmly push things higher still. As a sideman of the Burton Green Quintet Ayler blasts a ferocious sonic storm like a caged animal straining against the his confines as Rashid Ali keeps pace with the unbelievable energy of this sound.

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