Wednesday, January 07, 2009

HurdAudio Rotation: Five Pieces Known by Opus Number

Anthony Braxton: 9 Compositions (Iridium) 2006 [disc 4]. 2006: Firehouse 12 Records: FH12-04-03-001.

Recorded live: March 17, 2006 at Iridium Jazz Club, New York City.

The Anthony Braxton 12+1tet
Anthony Braxton: composer, alto saxophone, soprano saxophone, sopranino saxophone, clarinet and Eb contalto clarinet
Taylor Ho Bynum: cornet, flugelhorn, trumpbone, piccolo trumpet, bass trumpet, shell
Andrew Raffo Dewar: soprano saxophone, c-melody saxophone, clarinet
James Fei: alto saxophone, soprano saxophone, clarinet, bass clarinet
Mary Halvorson: electric guitar
Stephen H. Lehman: alto saxophone, sopranino saxophone
Nicole Mitchell: flute, alto flute, bass flute, piccolo, voice
Jessica Pavone: viola, violin
Reut Regev: trombone, flugelbone
Jay Rozen: tuba, euphonium
Sara Schoenbeck: bassoon, suona
Aaron Siegel: percussion, vibraphone
Carl Testa: acoustic bass, bass clarinet

Disc 4 = Composition 353 - dedicated to the composer Butch Morris

The longing to live within a Ghost Trance world builds as the ears soak within the structured, conducted and improvised long-forms of this large ensemble composition.
Sonic environments are rarely as expansive and inviting as this. The meshing of pulse structures along a sensibility of ritual (and open embrace of so many creative sides of music of the past and present) adds another layer to an already deep appreciation for the sonic universe of Anthony Braxton's creation. To experience Composition 353 is to find resonance within the sonic and social dynamics of the thirteen improvisers assembled for this live recording. This is currently my favorite of the 9 compositions on this box set.

Ludwig van Beethoven: The Symphonies [disc 3]. Recorded in 1994 and 1995. The International Music Company: 205298-305.

Symphony No. 4 in B-flat Major (op. 60)
Barry Wordsworth: conductor
Symphony No. 5 in C Minor (op.67)

Claire Gibault: conductor

The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra

Yes, there is a reason to listen to - and occasionally obsess about - these symphonies. With each transition from "familiar" to "known" I find myself drawn more to the Fourth Symphony in appreciation of that first movement. The conclusion of the final movement feels rushed (in the composed sense, not the performance), which is an unusual quality for a composer who could milk V-I cadences well beyond all traces of restraint. (The conclusion of the final movement of the Fifth Symphony offering a perfect example of cadential excess). There is the sensation of thematic sequences that are set in motion to a logic that transcends most creative actions.

Ludwig van Beethoven: The Complete Quartets [disc 2]. Recorded in 1989. Delos: DE 3032.

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

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

The Beethoven string quartets offer a concentrated dosage of what the symphonies deliver. The chamber medium affording the master significantly more maneuvering room that he took full advantage of. With the opus 18 set one can hear the outgrowth of Haydn-esque Classicism while opus 130 opens the ears to the early Romanticism that marked the course of musical development that followed. The stylistic change between early and late Beethoven is so astonishing - one can imagine the resistance to such dramatic change from his contemporaries. The introspective qualities that emerge with the abandonment of taut, four-movement forms along with the wider range of harmonic modulations into unexpected territories retains its sense as a catalyst and a challenge to composers taking up the medium.

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