Saturday, January 30, 2010

HurdAudio Rotation: Boxing Edition - Box Sets of Braxton and Beethoven

Anthony Braxton 12+1tet: 9 Compositions (Iridium) 2006 - disc 5. Firehouse 12 Records: FH12-04-03-001.

Recorded live: March 18, 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 5 = Composition 354 - dedicated to the composer Charles Wuorinen

These hour long slices of Braxtonian textures do manage to induce a ghost trance state. The layers of pulse, of composed line meeting up with the intensity of long form group improvisation. The unison passages that emerge between different members of the 12+1 ensemble revealing startling compositional support structures within a music that is willfully non-hierarchical. Slabs of sound that invite an intense creativity from the individuals of this ensemble while still remaining completely consistent with the sonic universe of Anthony Braxton. Braxton's own solos operating in a world apart through the depth of his voice and ideas. Box sets such as this offer up an improbable wealth of his music that retains a consistency that may take generations to completely absorb and appreciate.

Ludwig van Beethoven: The Symphonies [disc 4]. Recorded in 1993. The International Music Company: 305298-305.

The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra

Mark Ermler: conductor

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

An early example of program music from a composer not normally associated with spinning narrative through the abstract voices of a symphony. And it only barely hints at the excesses (and heavy handedness) that would follow as the Romantic Era picked up in earnest. Even a casual listening to this work makes it clear that this symphony lives within a major root of Western music traditions. Within the details of this tranquil visit to the countryside through sound lurk the formal sensibilities that are so strongly associated with Beethoven. The formal construction (and his willingness to deviate from conventional practice) along with the unerring ability to develop themes over time. For these ears it is the arrangement of these themes and the manner that they unfold that gives this piece its longevity.

Ludwig van Beethoven: The Complete Quartets, Vol. III. 1986-1994. Delos International: DE 3033.

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

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

The Razumovsky quartets may be more deserving of the fetish poured down upon all nine symphonies. Thankfully, they are not. Leaving these ears to hear them fresh in a way not possible with the over-exposed symphonic works that require a zen mind to hear past the crushing familiarity. It is through these string quartets that the intimidating accomplishments of Beethoven can be appreciated, approached and savored (if not completely digested).

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