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Class of '38

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    Great primer for modern composers

    The eight composers on this compilation were all born in 1938, and then went in every direction away from each other. This overview is actually a great jumping-in point for learning the range and bold moves of modern experimental classical music. Gloria Coates' &quot Symph. 15 III What Are Stars?&quot has the stately frame of an urban anthem, with simple majesterial horns and tumbling drums, but the strings fidget frequencies like an atonal hive underneath. John Corigliano's &quot A Black November Turkey&quot springs out spritely on its way before worrying itself into a tentative uncertainty, then finally jumping back onto the path determined. Jose Serebrier's &quot Fantasia (For Strings)&quot is one of his seminal works, a darkly lush rumination that is at times romantic and desperate. Frederic Rzewski's &quot Four North American Ballads: No. 4 Cotton Mill Blues&quot rises and falls in modal piano variations that recall a train crossing different landscapes, including deconstructed barrelhouse blues passages. John Harbison's &quot Trio (1968)&quot spins dissonant viola, violin, and piano in circles, at times sparring and others wounded. Joan Tower's &quot Tambor&quot is rhythmic and declarative, like a reconsidered Copland, before moving into atmospheric interludes over soft vibes and dappling strings, always swooping and evocative. William Bolcom's &quot Cello Sonata II Adagio Semplice&quot is a night fever of serpentine piano and cello, sometimes relaxing into bittersweet beauty. Charles Wuorinen's &quot Josquiniana&quot builds in serial swells that are akin to a medieval folk melody, courtly and yet pastoral. There's also a second disc included with intervies of six of the composers to round out the education. A choice primer all around.

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