Sunday, July 03, 2011

HurdAudio Rotation: The B's

Anthony Braxton: 9 Compositions (Iridium) 2006 [disc 8]. 2007. Firehouse 12 Records: FH12-04-03-001.

Composition No. 357 dedicated to the composer Galina Ustvolskaya
The Anthony Braxton 12+1tet
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
Anthony Braxton: alto saxophone, soprano saxophone, sopranino saxophone, clarinet, e-flat contralto 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

Technically, these ghost trance music are focused upon pulse and the relationship between a large ensemble with pulse. It's a relationship that includes operating both within and without the pulse. Beyond that theoretical level, ghost trance music is also about realizing a flat hierarchy between players. Which in and of itself is about playing within and without sublimation. The openness to trance states (which is aided through performing for extended periods of time) this music forms a beautiful tapestry of timbral and improvisational range. The appearance of percussion at the focal point during part 3 of Composition No. 357 is both remarkable and augmented by the absence (or non-reliance upon) percussive elements before and after this point in time. A fabric that moves effortlessly between multiple sub-groupings of the 12+1tet. This music is high achievement and listening to it is pure Braxtonian bliss.

Johann Sebastian Bach: Bach Edition [disc II-1]. 1999. Brilliant Classics: 93102/24.

The Well-Tempered Clavier, Book 1
- Prelude & Fugue No. 1 - 12

Leon Berben: harpsichord

The Well-Tempered Clavier is a known, and understandable obsession. Offered here on harpsichord. An important timbre for Baroque keyboard music and one that reveals the startling clarity of lines and fugue in this performance. The systematic exploration of each major and minor tonality with a prelude and fugue is deeply appealing and speaks of an exercise in creative play. Here J.S. Bach demonstrates both his mastery of tonal language and his obsession with key centers and what each one suggests on a melodic and harmonic level. This is listening that has withstood the test of centuries.

Ludwig van Beethoven: The Complete Quartets [disc 6]. 1994. Delos: DE 3036.

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

String Quartet in D Major, Op. 17, no. 3
String Quartet in C-Sharp Minor, Op. 131

The pairings on these discs highlights the transition Beethoven's style underwent over the span of his career. Rendering an audible demonstration of the student of Joseph Haydn expanding outward from his classical roots. The C-sharp minor quartet exploring a much larger range of materials than the politely classical Opus 17. The variation in movement durations in the later work is striking with one movement lasting just forty-five seconds compared to the fourteen minute movement that follows it. The use of pizzicato, sul ponticello and mutes in the late work shows a compositional pallet that includes timbral considerations of the string quartet medium that was a bit more advanced than I would have assumed from Beethoven. The use of rhythmic propulsion is also startlingly contemporary sounding. The evolution of the string quartet clearly passed through these works.

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