Ensemble Avantgarde / Sächsisches Blechbläserensemble / Steffen Schleiermacher

Schleiermacher: Ensemble Music

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Steffen Schleiermacher, a German composer and pianist born in 1960, is a skillful practitioner of European modernism, and the listener's reaction to this CD will likely depend on his or her affection for that aesthetic. There is little here that would make a convert out of a skeptic, but a listener attuned to modernism could find much of interest here. This CD features five works, including both chamber music for acoustical instruments and works for ensemble and tape. The largest work, a site-specific piece, Auto Werk mit Hup Raum, was composed for a new BMG factory in Leipzig. In the tradition of Mosolov's Iron Foundry and Varèse's Déserts, Schleiermacher has created a piece of musique concrète using the sounds of the factory and has added an acoustical layer played by a live ensemble. The resulting piece is marked by evolving textures that are thoroughly industrial sounding and has a monumentality appropriate to the huge space for which it was created. In terms of scale and textural variety, it's far removed from Obophon, essentially a little concerto for solo oboe accompanied by five other oboes that is heavy going, lugubrious, and monochromatic. The Three Pieces for viola and bass clarinet are notable for the diversity of colors Schleiermacher coaxes from the instruments, as well as the distinctive character of each of the three miniatures. The instruments are so timbrally well suited to each other that it's a wonder not more composers have used this combination. The MDG audiophile recording uses only natural acoustics without any sound-modifying manipulation. The overall sound quality is extremely clean and crisp, and the balance in the pieces requiring spatial separation is convincingly natural sounding.

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