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Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Paradigms: New Sounds for the Modern Orchestra

We live in a time in the arts that cannot yet be captured by one word. It is most certainly "the period after" what came before, but what is that? It is only to say that it is today, not yesterday. Is that necessarily a bad thing? In the field of new music one thing positive about it is that there is no "cultural police" dictating what one must create, no special "out" or "in" group. Oh I suppose you could single out loosely grouped coteries with certain stylistic affinities: high modernists, post-modernists, minimalists, those that create music that could be termed neo-early, neo-classical, or neo-romantic, and of course the avant garde lives on, and so forth, but no one group dominates. What it means to the listener is that there is a wide variety of styles in play in the music being created right now. That's probably healthy and it certainly gives the music lover much to choose from.

With that in mind we look at the new anthology Paradigms: New Sounds for the Modern Orchestra (Navona 5880). Here we have six recent compositions, convincingly played by the Slovak Radio Symphony under Robert Black, and the Moravian Philharmonic under Petr Vronsky, respectively.

There are composers attached to these works that you might not have heard of: Warren Gooch, Rain Worthington, Howard Quilling, Allen Brings, Paula Diehl, and Joseph Koykkar. Yet they are a talented bunch, each providing a work that shows mastery of craft and creative spark.

If you were to try and label the music, it is primarily post- and neo- with some shades of modernism thrown in for good measure. All of the works make convincing statements, make good use of the orchestra as an instrument of color and contrast, and sound contemporary.

The musical as a whole typifies an aspect of the contemporary orchestral scene and does it with some very good, very listenable new music.

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