Microtonal music encompasses music in which the octave is divided into smaller parts than the traditional Western division into 12 half-steps. Experimentation in Western cultures has taken place for decades but has certainly not managed to uproot the accepted 12-step division. The American Festival of Microtonal Music primarily focuses on the music of composers who believe there's more to be had from the broad octave than 12 mere steps. What does any of that have to do with a program of music by Brahms, Beethoven, Bach, Tartini, and others? Each of these composers certainly subscribed to the traditional 12-step octave. But this focuses on the unique and highly varied tuning systems that were in play at different points in music history. For listeners interested in such detailed attention to tuning, this album and its extensive liner notes (available only on-line) will certainly be of interest. For the rest, the performances given by the AFMM members falls quite short. Technical precision throughout the disc is mediocre, and despite the system to which the piano is tuned, the other instruments should still be playing in tune with the fixed-pitch instrument. The sound quality throughout is also rather dry, nasal, and severely imbalanced.
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AllMusic Review by Mike D. Brownell
|A Musical Offering, BWV 1079|
|Trio in B flat major, Op. 11|
|Horn Trio in E flat major, Op. 40|