Monday, April 11, 2011

HurdAudio Rotation: Ghost Trance Razumovsky

Anthony Braxton: 9 Compositions (Iridium) 2006 [disc 6]. 2007. Firehouse 12 Records: FH12-04-03-001.

Composition No. 355 - Dedicated to the multi-instrumentalist/composer Gino Robair
The Anthony Braxton 12+1tet
Anthony Braxton: alto saxtophone, 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, sopranino saxophone
Jessica Pavone: viola, violin
Aaron Siegel: percussion, vibraphone
Taylor Ho Bynum: cornet, flugelhorn, trumpbone, piccolo trumpet, bass trumpet, shell

Anthony Braxton is a conceptualist of the highest order. His music makes enormous demands upon the creative musician as well as upon the creative listener. The startling thing is how much this music gives back in return for one's efforts. A fully realized sonic universe that synthesizes a staggering array of ideas and sources. It's the kind of place these ears seek to inhabit. These ghost trance compositions are even more exciting. Each one presenting a 60-minute slice of altered beauty. Composition No. 355 builds upon layers of thematic development realized by one of the finest ensembles Anthony Braxton has ever assembled. Each disc within this box set is both interconnected and self-contained. Shedding new light upon different angles of a singular pocket of this Tricentric universe.

Ludwig van Beethoven: The Symphonies [disc 5]. 1994. The International Music Company: 205299-305.

The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra

Symphony No. 7 in A Major (op. 92)
Barry Wordsworth: conductor

Symphony No. 8 in F Major (op. 93)
James Lockhart: conductor

The reason for listening to these works (or any works, for that matter) is to develop one's relationship with the music. To understand and discover the ideas that make this music tick. Somehow, it becomes more challenging to do this with the Beethoven Symphonies because there is already a passing familiarity with them. A false sense of already "knowing" them. It takes a few times through the rotation to develop a fascination with the sequence of materials. Particularly in the seventh and eighth symphonies. There's an infallible sense of form at work well beyond the familiarity (these pieces both will and will not surprise these ears). And the seventh symphony is surprisingly loaded with contrapuntal mischief. It's clear why so many have emulated this material through this medium in the wake of these thunderous works. And the eighth symphony doesn't even begin to foreshadow the devastating impact the ninth would later have.

Ludwig van Beethoven: The Complete Quartets [disc 4]. 1994. Delos: DE 3034.

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

String Quartet in E Minor, Op. 59 No. 2 ("Razumovsky")

String Quartet in F Minor, Op. 95 ("Serioso")

A dip into the middle and late periods of Ludwig van Beethoven's considerable works for string quartet. A body of music that is both rich and not burdened with the excessive familiarity that comes with the fetishized symphonies. Juxtaposed like this, one can trace the creative journey that bridged the Classical and Romantic eras. The "Serioso" quartet hinting mildly at the excesses of Romanticism that would follow a generation or two later. But it is the middle period - and these "Razumovsky" quartets in particular - that hold the greatest fascination for me. The breaking away from the polite regularity of early Classical music's cadence structures and composing a new elasticity into the form. The focus shifts toward the development and Beethoven's uncanny sense of order. This particular performance of the Op. 59 No. 2 positively soars as a transcendent work of art.

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