Ensemble Resonanz / Moses Sumney

Bryce Dessner: Tenebre

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Tenebre is the title of one of the works on this album by rock-to-classical crossover sensation Bryce Dessner, and also of the album as a whole: on offer here are four separate works, not a single work called Tenebre. The pieces have been played, and in some cases recorded, in other settings previously. As such, the album offers a good starting point for those curious about this musician, whose experiments with classical music have lasted longer than those of his rock compatriots who have attempted such a thing. His success has now extended to continental Europe, for the performers here, Ensemble Resonanz, are from Germany. This group has experimented with the presentation of contemporary music in the setting of a nightclub called "Club Resonanz," and overall, it would be hard to imagine a group more sympathetic to Dessner's aims. The question of whether you can spot Dessner, the rock songwriter, in the music of Dessner, the classical composer, is not a simple one and seems to have been partly responsible for his commercial success. The connections aren't obvious, but there's a certain rock attitude added on to Dessner's postminimalist and downtown New York influences, and Ensemble Resonanz gets this. Sample the evocatively titled Skrik Trio. Dessner's staying power depends on where he goes from here, perhaps with a larger work, but this is an excellent snapshot of where things stand now.

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