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Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Axiom: Society of Composers, Inc., An Anthology of New Music

Axiom (Navona 5856) is the 26th volume of the Society of Composers, Inc. CD anthology series. It consists of six diverse compositions by six composers from around the world. You may not be familiar with the composers (I certainly wasn't with most of them) and in part that is the point, to introduce music by composers who deserve a hearing. So there are works by Michael Boyd, Joo Won Park, Israel Neuman, Liviu Marinescu, Jay C. Batzner, and Peter Van Zandt Lane.

There are electro-acoustic soundscapes, pieces for conventional instruments and electronics, pure electronic music and a chamber work. All are worth hearing. If this is a gauge of where new music is today, it shows that there is a multi-stylistic eclecticism prevailing. This of course doesn't contradict my experience of surveying the music being recorded and listened to over the last decade, and in many ways that has been true of the overall situation in the last 100 years. New styles coexist with older ones, composers work in any number of directions in any given synchronous "now".

Perhaps though we have today a world where no one style dominates as the main innovative force, such as serialism did in the '50s of last century, or late romanticism did in, say, the '10s. We live in the present, necessarily. Someday music historians may look back and identify a style trend happening right now as what was important for the era. It is not clear on the ground if that will be so and, if so, what that will be. Certainly not in terms of this anthology. The works represented here do not show a marked tendency to incorporate non-formalist vernacular into the modernism the works espouse, for example. We've seen that can be a factor in the music heard lately in other circles. This hardly matters in terms of the music presented in this anthology. It is well-wrought and advanced music in the best sense. Whether it represents the most viable trends in composition world-wide is probably moot. It's interesting music, after all, and what more should we expect?


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