Willem Breuker

25 Jaar Nieuwe Muziek in Zeeland (25 Years of New Music in Holland)

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This sampler taken from various studio and live recordings and done for Holland's new music festival is a rare and beautiful thing. Not only does it feature work elsewhere unavailable, from a wide range of composers including Willem Breuker, Morton Gould, Morton Feldman, Diamanda Galas, Giacinto Scelsi, Iannis Xenakis, and others, it showcases premier players recordings these works. Feldman's "Projection I," from 1950, is played with great sensitivity and restraint by Frances-Marie Uitti on violincello, with Feldman himself giving a kind of freeform lecture in his heavily accented Brooklyn voice. Uitti also makes an appearance on Scelsi's "Le Fleuve Magique," playing the instrument in an entirely different manner, aggressively and without a whit of composure. What's better is that these two selections are side by side on the disc. Breuker's three-movement "GUTS," written for carillon bells, is among the most introspective, tender, and moving things he's ever composed. His knowledge of the instrument's tonal balances is remarkable, and his ability to create floating accents and rhythms from such a random device is a surprise. Galas's multi-tracked meta-linguistic approach to singing and recording is otherworldly in her selection from "Les Yeux Sans Sang." Unlike the torrential assaults she usually rains down upon an audience, this work comes from the underside of her voice and concentrates on its shifting tonal atmospherics rather than dynamic or dramatic power. She looks and finds the various shades of gray and black needed for her performance and investigates them thoroughly, introspectively even, creating an overtonal and timbral soundtrack to work against with a looped delay. Other highlights include Geoffrey Douglas Madge's scintillating performance of Morton Gould's "Boogie Woogie Etude," from 1943, with its crystalline tone and strident 4/4 figure moving first into cut time and then halving it again, which makes for a blue of New Orleans joy from a classical composer performed by the greatest interpreter of classical composer's emulating jazz ever! In all, there no weak moments on this anthology, with only one passable one -- Floris van Manen's "Klompen" -- the rest are highly original readings of one-of-a-kind works from across the new music spectrum, which makes this a fine collection to seek out.

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