Anthony Braxton

Compositions 175 and 126

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Recorded live at London's Sadlers Wells Theatre in May 1994, this realization of Anthony Braxton's Compositions 175 and 126 was released by Leo Records in 2006 on a double CD. Both works are outgrowths of the composer's Trillium opera project, which was first defined a full decade before this recording was made. In 1984, Braxton stated that "Trillium is a point of definition in my music system. The continuum of works that will make up this music state represents the third solidification (layer) of my evolving materials (the first being vocabularies, the second being the form and/or system type and the third being ritual statements). When completed, Trillium will consist of a complex of 36 autonomous acts that can be refitted into any combination to total 12 three-act operas." Composition 126 was originally designated "Trillium - Dialogues M (1986) Joreo's Vision of Forward Motion," a four-scene, one-act opera with two interludes for six soloists, dancers, choir, piano, large orchestra, and percussion. This was conceived with instructions for costuming and stage design. As presented in 1994, the work involved four vocalists, an 18-piece creative orchestra (including a string quartet) under Braxton's direction, and a partially electronic "constructed environment." Structurally and texturally, the music at times seems closely aligned with what Braxton refers to as the Post-Webern Continuum, in the selection and configuration of tones and the use of silence as a structural element. The keyboard improvisations of Roy Powell are especially intriguing, as is the interplay among the instrumentalists behind the declamatory vocals. Composition 175, which occupies the first disc in the set and features two vocalists rather than four, illustrates a later stage in the Trillium development. The opportunity to experience Anthony Braxton's approach to opera is most auspicious. The producers of this edition were sensible enough to provide a full libretto for those who feel the need to absorb every nuance of the work. To place these performances in context it is useful to note that the recording which precedes this album in the Braxton saga/discography was his duo reunion with electronics and synthesizer virtuoso Richard Teitelbaum in a live concert at Merkin Hall in New York City on April 28, 1994. Braxton's next recordings would be made with his piano quartet at Yoshi's Nitespot in Oakland, California in June of that year. That phenomenal date, which was preserved on a four-CD set by the Music & Arts label, featured saxophonist Marty Ehrlich in a spread of 27 jazz standards with a positively rambunctious Braxton at the piano.

Track Listing - Disc 1

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
1 43:29

Track Listing - Disc 2

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
1 33:50
2 14:35
blue highlight denotes track pick