Cornel Taranu's symphonies mark several phases in the development of Romanian avant-garde music, yet if one knew nothing of his interest in creating a national style, one might say his works fit quite easily under the rubric of international modernism. Despite Taranu's intentions, little here stands out as particularly Romanian or distinct from other experimental trends of the late twentieth century. In the Simfonia Brevis (1961-1962), Taranu's serialism is tempered with modal inflections, which somewhat soften the music's edges; yet the gestural language is still abrupt and severe. Chance operations have a prominent place in the Symphony No. 2, "Aulodica" (1975-1976), but this improvisational heterophony is a recognizable feature of many academic orchestral works of the time. The Symphony No. 3, "Signs" (1984), and the Symphony No. 4, "Ritornellos" (1987), share spectral techniques, and both works involve masses of microtonal clusters and glissandi, swarming over violent rhythms in percussion and brass; the results are strongly reminiscent of Xenakis and Murail. The Cluj-Napoca Philharmonic Orchestra, directed by Mircea Cristescu, Emil Simon, and Cristian Mandeal, respectively, and the Symphony Orchestra of Radiodifuziunii Române, conducted by Ludovic Bacs, turn in respectable performances, but the variable ADD sound suggests that these were recorded under less than ideal circumstances.
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AllMusic Review by Blair Sanderson