Despite the billing of its two principals, this date is actually realized by an all-Italian (except for Stockhausen, of course) octet. Take the edges of vanguard European classical music, insert into them a jazzman's sense of timing and harmonic extensions and an improviser's ear, and this is what you get. Utilizing a pair of trumpets (the leaders), flute, piano, bass, drums, and a vocalist (with a three-voice recitative choir behind her), the music found here in song form is an exploration into the literal middle of European musical culture for the last three centuries. It feels like an oratorio without a script, and is as haunting as a series of prayers without anyone to pray them to. The brass and winds are lovely together, tightly scripted and playing contrapuntal to the rhythm section on most of the selections. The clearest example is in "Gigerl Marsch." Utilizing a march tempo and a German lyric, one feels as if Mahler himself had written the counterpoint into the cadenzas that come out of the body of the text and split into a jazzy chromaticism on the flute and piano. This is such a strange recording, so full of angles and edges and mirrored surfaces reflecting back at the listener that oftentimes one gets lost and cannot make out where in this text they are. But that's also the beauty of it. This is music that is made of everything, yet it exists in its own time/space continuum. The rigorous challenges to comprehend the composer's efforts are more often than not rewarded grandly.
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AllMusic Review by Thom Jurek