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Friday, November 11, 2011

Ensemble Adventure, "Octandre": Six Composers Write Chamber Pieces Inspired By Varese's Masterpiece

An unusual recording on tap today: the chamber Ensemble Adventure performs (Ars Musici 232211) Edgar Varese's modern masterpiece Octandre, followed by compositions in the spirit of Varese composed by six contemporary composers: Diego Luzuriaga, Thomas Bruttger, Coriun Aharonian, Mariano Etkin, Graciela Paraskevaidis, and Rolf Riehm. I am not familiar with these composers, but what they do and how Ensemble Adventure realizes them in performance is an experience that brings a kind of enlightenment coupled with pleasure. Varese is (was) not a composer given to writing music that espouses conventional western harmony, of course. In his music structures are fundamental to the makeup of a particular composition, especially with "Octandre". How those structures relate to one another is the important thing, like a set of related buildings in a city block. The movement in and out of pitch centers or tonality is not really relevant. It is music of an architectural sort, and a wonderful thing for the development of modernity.

The six composers represented here take the structural, architectural idea of Varese's "Octandre" and run with it, to each his or her own. So you hear "Octandre" performed with a kind of lingering care, then you hear the six compositions that bear tributary resemblance to that work.

The performances are excellent, the music very stimulating, and the recording bright. It's a great idea, greatly realized. Those who love the high modernism of Varese will find this CD a real treat.

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