The 63 pieces that make up composer Georg Kröll's Tagebuch (translation: daybook or diary) range from 14 seconds to three minutes each. They are vast mediations in miniature on the history of European music, from Frescobaldi to Darmstaadt and Cologne. A part of the Gruppe 8, Kröll began his career as a serialist, and now considers himself liberated from musical history, though he borrows from it freely -- especially the tone rows of serialism. Kröll's use of serialism is interesting in that he will create a tone row to extrapolate from it in order to create new chromatic or harmonic ideas based on the principle of the row being the harmony, but as a gateway to new architectures and even metamusical (music written about music) considerations; sections 14 and 50, based on tonal and lyrical considerations, of Kurtág and Messiaen, respectively, or numbers 39-51, based on open-ended notational relationships of Morton Feldman's "False Relationships and the Extended Ending," are examples. But there are many referents throughout the text that are fascinating for the way they seem to occur to the composer: section 21, with its use of Ligeti's dynamics, or 36, with its echoes of Dvorak, or even 60, with its mosaic of chromatics based on a leitmotif by Webern. They offer not reminiscences as much as they do the creation of a new musical linguistics that is open to, yet challenges, all comers, and creates from these challenges a deeply personal, idiosyncratic, yet highly accessible view of harmonic architectures. The manner in which they can be dissembled and re-created according to either whim or purpose, evolving into a kind of chromatic "truth," show that structure and history are not limiting in and of themselves, but are only insofar as a composer allows himself to be stifled by their weight and appearance: all music can be manipulated for intellectual and emotional purposes outside their original frameworks, yet they serve as guides for the creative persona to add to in depth and dimension. Tagebuch is a fascinating and profound study and treatise on how, at least for the piano, all European classical musical traditions can be made to both resemble on another, and can be remade into something else altogether. Tagebuch is subtle, humorous, and brilliant.
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