Saturday, February 26, 2011

HurdAudio Rotation: Sonic Monuments

Johann Sebastian Bach: Bach Edition [disc I-1]. Recorded in 2006. Brilliant Classics: 93102/1.

Concerto no. 1 in F major BWV 1046 (Brandenburg Concerto 1)
Musica Amphion
Remy Baudet: violin, piccolo, leader
Frank de Bruine: oboe
Tennis van der Zwart: horn
Erwin Wieringa: horn

Concerto no. 2 in F major BWV 1047 (Brandenburg Concerto 2)
Musica Amphion
Remy Baudet: violin, leader
William Wroth: trumpet
Frand de Bruine: oboe
Pieter-Jan Belder: recorder

Concerto no. 3 in G major BWV 1048 (Brandenburg Concerto 3)
Musica Amphion
Remy Baudet: violin, leader
Sayuri Yamagata: violin
Irmgard Schaller: violin
Staas Swierstra: viola
Marten Boeken: viola
Mariette Holtrop: viola
Rainer Zipperling: cello
Richte van der Meer: cello
Albert Bruggen: cello

I'm sure nearly every sentient being has been exposed to the Brandenburg Concertos at some point either consciously or unconsciously (or both) at some point. They project an aura of sophistication and are frequently used as such as accompaniment. As works of art experienced as their own focal point the enduring qualities of this music is nearly overwhelming. In particular, my ears became fascinated with the use of repetition in this music. The carefully measured dosages and harmonic sequencing that gives this music such an organic quality. These are propelled by the pulsating, music-box like rhythmic quality of these Baroque gems. One can hear the enlightenment coursing through the veins of this music. Beyond that, the harmonic sequences jump out at me. So much contemporary music has this material at its roots. I can hear traces of punk and minimalism in this material. This music is a genuine wonder.

Anthony Braxton: 9 Compositions (Iridium) 2006 [disc 4]. 2007. Firehouse 12 Records: FH12-04-03-001.

Composition No. 353 - Dedicated to the composer Butch Morris
The Anthony Braxton 12+1tet
Anthony Braxton: alto saxophone, soprano saxophone, sopranino saxophone, clarinet, E-flat contralto clarinet
Mary Halvorson: electric guitar
Nicole Mitchell: flute, alto flute, bass flute, piccolo, voice
Sara Schoenbeck: bassoon, suona
Reut Regev: trombone, flugelbone
Carl Testa: acoustic bass, bass clarinet
James Fei: alto saxophone, soprano saxophone, clarinet, bass clarinet
Andrew Raffo Dewar: soprano saxophone, c-melody saxophone, clarinet
Jay Rozen: tuba, euphonium
Stephen H. Lehman: alto saxophone, sporanino saxophone
Jessica Pavone: viola, violin
Aaron Siegel: percussion, vibraphone
Taylor Ho Bynum: cornet, flugelhorn, trumpbone, piccolo trumpet, bass trumpet, shell

The dedication to Lawrence D. "Butch" Morris is fitting. The art of "conduction" - or conducted group improvisation - is very much within the DNA of Composition 353 as well as much of Anthony Braxton's ghost trance musics. Part sublimation of creative effort into a communal whole and part social/spiritual ritual, this music soars through multiple dimensions. Leaving behind hour-long slices of a brilliant eternity. A sonic glimpse of the impossible.

The more I listen to these 9 Compositions (Iridium), the more I am struck by the intense qualities of this ensemble. The individuality that emerges as I get to know these players both within and outside of this music. This is a music that is democratically shaped even as it shapes everyone involved (listeners included). These 12+1 players represent a creative village of 26 active ears. A village I am lucky to inhabit one hour at a time.

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

The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra

Symphony No. 4 in B flat major (op. 60)
Barry Wordsworth: conductor

Symphony No. 5 in C minor (op. 67)
Claire Gibault: conductor

Why listen to the Beethoven symphonies? Perhaps because they are transcendent. The first movement of the fourth symphony was particularly so for me this time. Reasons not to listen to the Beethoven symphonies? They've been pounded into the ground. I was less than thrilled with the fourth movement of the fifth symphony simply because it is both too familiar and such an obvious point of reference for much of the worst excesses of film scoring of the last half century. But it is unfair to attribute such sins to their obvious source. These are both amazing works and there is much to learn from each of them even if so many have over learned their thematic qualities. Beethoven had the distinction of perfecting formal progression. He could compose an introduction, a theme and development and a coda like no one else. Contemporaries who have borrowed from Beethoven have stripped this music of its formal qualities. It's good to have an aural reminder of how this music works when it's composed with a sense of time to go along with its arrangements.

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