The Group for Contemporary Music

Wuorinen Trios

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If this collection of trios for various instrumental combinations indicates anything, it shows that Charles Wuorinen's modernist credentials are still valid, his musical principles are uncompromised, and his intellect is undiminished. Yet there is a case to be made for Wuorinen's accessibility, a rare enough quality among composers of serial music but one that has made his works appealing in spite of their complex theoretical underpinnings. By the mid-'80s, Wuorinen had polished his musical rhetoric, clarified his procedures, and honed his skills in writing chamber music so any rough edges from his early experimental period were rubbed smooth and his mature music became more concise and intelligible. To some extent, this economy of techniques and expressions makes his music seem classically organized, tighter, and all of a piece, so even lay listeners can perceive the formal consistency of the musical arguments and understand where they lead; indeed, the six works on this disc are all fairly short in length and easy to follow in their compact structures and direct activity. Add to these Wuorinen's unerring sense of timbre, spontaneity in the repartée, and brilliant textural invention and it becomes clear that this music is approachable and enjoyable simply because it is well crafted and coherent, not because of dubious borrowings from past masters or outright pastiches. Wuorinen and his splendid Group for Contemporary Music turned in authoritative performances in these 1991 recordings for Koch International that sound terrific even by contemporary standards.

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