MULLER-STEIGERWALT/In Your Head: Despite the fact that almost no one connected with this project could be considered a millennial, there's an incredible amount of forward thinking in this set of ‘new music for piano four hands'. The duo playing are committed to new music, and have been for decades, and their sprightliness and energy belie the unretouched hair. While the war horse repertoire the majors are comfy with are great musical comfort food, this is like a feast with avocado toast, fusion cuisine and an interesting array of spices. The vitaes told in the booklet would make you think this is a load of eggheads on parade but it's anything but. A marvelous display of contemporary classical piano by a slew of serious award winning cats, this will open your ears to the future in fine form. Killer stuff.
HAYES BIGGS/When You Are Reminded by the Instruments: Can classical music have it's own equivalent of civil rights jazz? Biggs' compositions are loaded with the kind of muscular, angular jazz that takes left field to the limit, but here, the canon is loaded with moves that recall crime jazz era Bernstein---and it's delivered with steel drums in the mix. Continually thought provoking and provocative, this all stops just short of being art for art's sake and can get old timers to put down their Sodoku if they really want to follow along with some brain teasers. A must for progressive tastes of all ages.
MICHAEL G. CUNNINGHAM/Mezzanine Seat: Not exactly what you'd expect from an academic hiding out in Eau Claire, WI for the last several decades, Cunningham tells you right up front that he isn't going to tell you what to think and any interpretation of his works you come up with is valid. Often reminiscent of the stuff you'd hear your grand father conducting the record player to on weekends, if this guy didn't grow up admiring what the General was up to with Living Stereo then it's time to get John Daly to throw over all the cards. Marvelous orchestral work that doesn't angry up the blood but doesn't put you to sleep either as it floats out of the pocket on great wings. Well done.
SPECTRA V. 2-A Concert of Music by Members of Connecticut Composers, Inc/various: A recital of sorts of works stretching back to 1989 from local CT classical cats that do a fair facsimile of mash ups ala classics by way of incorporating contemporary elements from the outside and real world making this a live, breathing collection that abhors stasis. With something for everyone, while the apple by and large never falls far from the tree, this is a spiffy little gateway drug to turn you on to the sounds of tomorrow.
JOHN A. CAROLLO/Music from the Ethereal Side of Paradise: A retrospective of sorts, with many tracks here being previously released on various compilations, the singular vision of the composer is the thread that holds it all together. With a penchant for dark sounds, this feels like music for deep thought as it never gets less than serious in it's intent. A very solid listening session that's sure to keep you in your seat and paying attention.
JEFF MORRIS/Interfaces: I used to be friends with a guy that made music for museums. They'd throw money at him and I never understood why. Of course, I had no frame of reference. Morris is doing that installation music thing here, I still don't get it but they are throwing money and awards at him. I still have no frame of reference but I can dig the sequences that sound like film noir chase music from a punk rock mystery---with a lot of Goth chicks in it.
LEGENDS AND LIGHT-New Works for Large Ensemble/various composers: When you get a load of what the foreign orchestras on board here can do, let's just cross our fingers and hope the powers that be don't figure out a way to slap a tariff on this. Taking a&r care to make sure the four composers featured here don't trip over each other to give the orchestra maximum room to maneuver, these contemporary symphonic works are quite masterful to behold, whether they are grand and sweeping or seeming to operate in miniature. Well done throughout.
Number 41/Number 330
September 26, 2018
830 W. Route 22 #144
Lake Zurich, IL., 60047
CHRIS SPECTOR, Editor and Publisher
Copyright 2018 Midwest Record
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