Herbert Brün / University of Illinois New Music Ensemble

Herbert Brün: Language, Message, Drummage

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The first in a series of four CDs of Herbert Brün's works released by the Electronic Music Foundation, Language, Message, Drummage offers a selection of compositions for tape or instruments. The material covers five decades. The "Five Pieces for Piano" go back to the 1940s. Light and lively, they follow Stravinsky and Bartok's teachings in rhythm, but otherwise feel exactly like what they are: first attempts. Of the instrumental pieces, the "Trio for Flute, Double Bass, and Percussion" stands out. The interplay between the three parts (and their interprets Thomas Howell, Jon Deak, and Michael Udow, respectively) and the structure in three interlocking movements make for a rewarding listen. "Just Seven for Drum," the only composition on this CD from the 1980s, is a rather uneventful snare drum solo. Those not fond of such percussion works will dismiss it. The three tape compositions were created between 1957 and 1972. "Anepigraphe" and "Futility 1964" have the typical crudeness of early musique concrète. The latter is set on a poem by the composer, the subject of which is the futility of sound as language. Made of large gestures, it conveys the grandeur and a certain aspiration at changing the world tape music nurtured back then. The 20-minute "Piece of Prose" (1972) includes synthesized sounds. More arid, it has its moments, but doesn't come close in terms of fascination to the composer's computer works from the mid-'70s. Most people will be annoyed by the presence of both instrumental and tape compositions here, but this CD does give a good "big picture" of Brün's activities.

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