Author Topic: "New" Music Log  (Read 152356 times)

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Offline Todd

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Re: "New" Music Log
« Reply #520 on: October 16, 2021, 04:43:45 AM »



If you're gonna listen to one version of Kalabis' Second String Quartet, you might as well listen to two.  The Panocha strip away some of the bite and harshness and deliver a smoother, more meticulous rendition.  The slower music generally sounds more beautiful here.  So outta the gate, one can hear contrasting styles.  Best to have both, of course.  (The Panocha barely gets the nod.)  Ladislav Kubík short String Quartet in One Movement follows.  The early 80s era work is at times a taut, nervous ball of energy, at others an almost grim, nervous slow grind.  Astringent and dissonant, packing in all the string quartet tricks in a short span - think Webern, Bartok, and nameless avant garde composers mashed together - the piece moves along with striking logic, with no musical idea coming close to wearing out its welcome.  Vladimír Sommer's String Quartet in D Minor ends the short recording.  It starts off gently, beautifully, harking back to late 19th Century music, but after little more than a minute, the music adds some intensity.  It never really sounds harsh or modernist as its mid-50s vintage might imply.  In that it's sort of like Martinu, but it sounds nothing like Martinu.  The Adagio ends up upping the beauty and the tension, somehow, and the concluding Vivace adds more energy and pulsating energy alternating with playful, light music that again harks back to the 19th Century, or maybe the early 20th.  One may detect whiffs of Korngold, too, which is no bad thing.  All things considered, it works rather well.

Of course the Panocha deliver the goods, and sound is better than expected given vintage and source.
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Offline Todd

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Re: "New" Music Log
« Reply #521 on: October 23, 2021, 06:15:34 AM »



A second disc of chamber music by Jia Daqun.  The disc opens with Flavor of Bashu for two violins, piano, and percussion.  A blend of western and eastern styles and sounds, one can easily think of it as an even more eastern Bartok, with hints of John Cage thrown in.  That doesn't really do justice as a description, but it's decent shorthand, and fans of dissonant music and some aggressive percussion may very well dig this piece a whole lot.  Counterpoint of Times switches over to a wind ensemble written using the golden section ratio in parts.  The bright piece sounds more vaguely avant-garde French than Chinese, but that's OK, too.  It lacks the impact of the opener, but it ain't too shabby.  Next is the String Quartet from 1988, and it offers a basically perfect merging of Chinese folk tune inspired music and avant garde string quartet writing one hears more commonly.  You get the night music pizzicato thing and glissandi, and so forth, but here it emerges even more colorful and varied than is often the case.  Muy bueno.  The disc closes out with the brief The Prospect of Coloured Desert, for Violin, Cello, Percussion, and both the Sheng and Pipa, so this work has the most decidedly eastern sound to it.  Jia, does not fall back on straight up folk music at all.  Instead, the instruments play fully contemporary, abstract music, like an up to date Bartok.  The more distinctive and unusual sound makes it stand out more than the other works, which says something.  Overall, the music sounds most compelling and makes the listener want to seek out yet more works by the composer. 

Tip-top playing.  Tip-top sound.
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Offline Todd

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Re: "New" Music Log
« Reply #522 on: October 31, 2021, 06:10:59 AM »



Picked up on a lark when spotted on closeout, this disc ended up far surpassing any reasonable or unreasonable expectations I may have held.  The pleasant surprises start with Korngold's Unvergänglichkeit.  Tuneful, yes, as expected.  Lush, kinda, yeah.  But more than that.  The theme of immortality sparked the composer to write music that presages Messiaen's later religiously themed good stuff.  Karl Goldmark offers good, (literally) old-fashioned German lied in the Schubert and Brahms tradition, never daring to tread an original path.  But that doesn't matter a whit since the songs works so darned well, melodic and unchallenging but unyieldingly inviting and lovely.  Cornelia Hübsch nails her part, singing with beauty and superb diction, with Charles Spencer tickling the ivories in a most becoming way.  Superb in every way.
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Offline Todd

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Re: "New" Music Log
« Reply #523 on: April 30, 2022, 05:57:25 AM »



When two of the best instrumentalists recording today put out a duo recording, especially when one is William Youn and the other is Nils Mönkemeyer, then it’s only a matter of time before listening.  This recording, entitled Whispers, is devoted to the music of Konstantia Gourzi, and she also plays some percussion in some pieces and penned the brief intro.  The pieces are all inspired by nature and were written for Youn and Mönkemeyer specifically. 

The listener gets to hear tip-top shelf playing from two artists at the top of their game, and production values are high end as well.  The music does not quite work as well as I had hoped.  wind whispers for solo piano opens, and the overall mood is set.  A blend of minimalism and almost New Age inspired music has multiple beautiful parts, all but guaranteed with Youn playing, but doesn’t really engage this listener.  The second piece, evening at the window II, for viola and percussion, leaves a similar impression.  With call of the bees, starting with a beefy piano ostinato underpinning some more gnarly but lovely viola playing, one gets to something more enjoyable, a bit closer to chamber music with oomph.  The back half of the recording, comprised of messages between trees, a love song, and melodies from the sea, inhabits a stylistically similar world as the first couple works, with the brief duo a love song the strongest piece.  While the earnestness of the project can plainly be heard, the recording as a whole does not match up to the best from either main artist.  Others may very well love Ms Gourzi’s style, of course. 
The universe is change; life is opinion. - Marcus Aurelius, Meditations

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Offline Mirror Image

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Re: "New" Music Log
« Reply #524 on: April 30, 2022, 06:10:33 AM »
Why don't you just start a blog, Todd? Seems like that would be a better idea rather than take up GMG real estate.
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Online Brian

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Re: "New" Music Log
« Reply #525 on: April 30, 2022, 06:35:49 AM »
Why don't you just start a blog, Todd? Seems like that would be a better idea rather than take up GMG real estate.
Wtf is this? These are substantive, descriptive posts about music most of us have not heard. They're some of the most valuable (and relevant) posts here. We have lots of "real estate" taken up by one-word posts, politics, TV, every topic under the sun (all of which is good), and when someone posts about music you want them to leave?

Offline Todd

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Re: "New" Music Log
« Reply #526 on: May 07, 2022, 05:06:05 AM »



Brahms is basically the end of the road for me when it comes to piano concerto gigantism.  I love 'em and listen to 'em rather frequently.  There are a handful of other big beasts out there, like Henze's Second or, at the end of the concerto rainbow/nightmare, Feruccio Busoni's bloated monstrosity of interminable musical notes strung together in almost music.  (Henze was lucky to have a champion in Christoph Eschenbach, back when he tickled the ivories with the best of them, so the piece remains listenable for that reason.)  I wasn't really looking for a really, really long piano concerto, but then I found Kimmo Hakola's fifty-six minute monster for a few bucks, I figured it couldn't hurt, not really, to give it a shot.  I believe I've seen Hakola's name before, as he's part of the Finnish musical scene, and that this recording was made by Ondine ensured some spiffy sonics, so it seemed worth trying.

The concerto starts off with hints of Ravel's D Major, with growling low strings laying the foundation, but that's essentially the only similarity.  The work unfolds over nine movements, and it's a journey, and something of a chore to sit through.  It's from the clang-boom pastiche school of contemporary classical composition.  Alternatively, one could say it's an everything but the kitchen sink style work, with the kitchen sink being tunes.  Tunefulness is most definitely not needed to make a work successful, but it often doesn't hurt.  The work manages to flit from idea to idea, with homages to jazz and Bach and Rachmaninoff and Puccini and Harrison and Ligeti and Klezmer music and organ and almost everything else.  There are multiple assaults by percussion instruments, and passages of oodles of piano notes with no discernible purpose.  And it seems to more or less just unfold as one long, flowing wall of sound, like a piano concerto modelled on Coma by Guns N' Roses.  As an instrumental exercise, it does actually work well enough.  The pianist has a ton to do, and every section of the orchestra gets a workout.  All involved give their all; Hakola is lucky modern conservatories pump out grads who can play anything.

The disc also comes with the Sinfonietta from 1999, and it's more to my liking, and not just because it's only fourteen minutes long.  The string heavy sound, though percussion gets lots of love, is more accessible and nearly tuneful, albeit in a strident, pungent way.  It betrays influences of Lutoslawski and Bartok and various and sundry others, and it just kind of cruises along.  In many contexts, it would be the hard-hitting piece, but following a nearly hour long piano concerto, it's the light entertainment.

Fine playing and predictably fine sound for a disc I listen to maybe once more in my lifetime.
The universe is change; life is opinion. - Marcus Aurelius, Meditations

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Offline Todd

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Re: "New" Music Log
« Reply #527 on: May 14, 2022, 04:34:01 AM »



This disc marks the third appearance of Huang Ruo in the New Music Log thread.  The disc includes multiple, diverse works inspired by multiple artistic and cultural and historical influences, which the composer outlines in his own liner notes.  The works date from roughly 2000 through 2019, so some of the music is super fresh.

Shattered Steps opens the disc, and it starts with the composer himself singing a manufactured language in a Chinese style before segueing to a full-scale orchestra that adopts the overall pulse of the music as set forth by the singing and merging Chinese music, Aaron Copland, and movie soundtrack style music.  That sounds derivative, but it's not really derivative, as I've not heard anything quite like it.  The relentless forward drive and at times chaotic, cacophonous feel works rather well.  It's formless yet focused.  Nice.  Becoming Another, derived from a Chinese saying, combines rich strings and colorful percussion in a Strauss meets Streitenfeld kind of piece, with eastern sounds generously thrown in.  As with the opener, it kind of unfolds continuously throughout its modest length, though it sounds smoother and more continuous, thanks to the low strings.

Next come two excerpts from Ruo's opera An American Soldier, which sets the tragic tale of Private Danny Chen to music.  Mezzo Guang Yang sings two pieces as the soldier's mother, and it immediately calls to mind Britten, Berg, and Zimmermann in overall mien, though it sounds distinct from any of those.  The two pieces amount to only a short interlude and make at least this listener most interested in hearing the whole opera.  The disc turns back to orchestral music with Still/Motion.  Commissioned as a modern companion piece to The Butterfly Lovers violin concerto, Ruo relies on Chinese Opera and Tang Dynasty court music as inspiration, as well as motives from The Butterfly Lovers and Emperor’s Princess Flower.   While the eastern influences are obvious, the western tradition offers the overall structural and technical framework for the music.  It's incredibly cohesive, and marks one of the finest blendings of East meets West in my collection.  This melding of styles and Chinese influences continues in Two Pieces for Orchestra, the oldest piece on the disc.  Eastern influences sound less pronounced in the opening Fanfare, with (unabashedly) modernist style pervading, though it sounds much more noticeable in Announcement, including in this Chinese singing that the orchestral players offer up in the coda.

Finally, the disc closes out with Folk Songs for Orchestra.  The songs come from different portions of China, including, quite purposely, Xinjiang, in the closer The Girl from Da Ban City.  The pieces all fall into the folk-music inspired category, with no question whatever where the influences come from, even if western ears may not be familiar with the source material.  Ruo manages to orchestrate most successfully, evoking the appropriate feel from a modern orchestra using regular instrumentation.  It ends up a crowd pleasing closer for a concert and reinforces Ruo's formidable talent.

The disc is taken from a single concert by the Shanghai Philharmonic from October 2019.  Conductor Liang Zhang appears to have had plenty of prep time with the band because they put in some good work. 

A keeper.
The universe is change; life is opinion. - Marcus Aurelius, Meditations

People would rather believe than know - E.O. Wilson

Offline The new erato

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Re: "New" Music Log
« Reply #528 on: May 14, 2022, 09:35:34 PM »
Why don't you just start a blog, Todd? Seems like that would be a better idea rather than take up GMG real estate.
No No No No No. This is really valuable real Estate and goes to the core of this board.

Offline Todd

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Re: "New" Music Log
« Reply #529 on: May 21, 2022, 05:46:07 AM »


Argentinian composer Graciela Jiménez gets the Naxos treatment with a disc comprised of five works for solo piano and one for piano and cello.  The disc displays a couple consistent traits.  First is poor sound quality.  The disc was recorded in 2017 and the composer acted as producer, so even if one accepts that there are practical considerations to achieving good sound quality (eg, available instruments and technicians), one must conclude she was satisfied with the sound quality.  The piano sounds ridiculously close, almost claustrophobically so, the dynamic range is blunted, the sound is compressed, and there is no edge, though one gets overdone lower register weight if that appeals.  The cello sounds marginally better, but the reverbless sound grates quickly.  The next trait is rhythmic flexibility and, at times, vitality.  At times, the music sounds dance influenced, and at other times it sounds very jazz influenced.  These traits hold whether the music is fast or slow.  The music generally sounds nice enough, and this is about as far from gnarly, academic or avant garde style contemporary classical as one can get. 

Cellist Marinis Villafañe and pianist Dora De Marinis do fine work, though I would rather have heard the composer play piano since she is apparently an accomplished pianist.  No matter, ultimately the sound quality is just not up to snuff and makes this disc not pleasant enough to listen to.  It may get one more listen in my life.
The universe is change; life is opinion. - Marcus Aurelius, Meditations

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Offline Florestan

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Re: "New" Music Log
« Reply #530 on: May 21, 2022, 09:36:23 AM »


Argentinian composer Graciela Jiménez

How a contemporary Argentinian composer could be construed as being a "Classics from Spain" is beyond my power of comprehension.  ;D
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Offline Mapman

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Re: "New" Music Log
« Reply #531 on: May 21, 2022, 09:54:27 AM »
How a contemporary Argentinian composer could be construed as being a "Classics from Spain" is beyond my power of comprehension.  ;D

According to Naxos (https://www.naxos.com/person/Graciela_Jim%C3%A9nez/321108.htm), the composer now lives and works in Spain.

Offline ritter

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Re: "New" Music Log
« Reply #532 on: May 21, 2022, 09:55:30 AM »
How a contemporary Argentinian composer could be construed as being a "Classics from Spain" is beyond my power of comprehension.  ;D
Because she’s been living in Spain for more than 30 years….
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Offline Florestan

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Re: "New" Music Log
« Reply #533 on: May 21, 2022, 10:03:25 AM »
Because she’s been living in Spain for more than 30 years….

Ah, okay, thanks. Still, this explains only the "from Spain "half of it. If she's a Classic, then what is Arriaga or Sor?   ;D
"I’ve always said music should make you laugh, make you cry or make you think." - Kenny Rogers

Offline Todd

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Re: "New" Music Log
« Reply #534 on: May 28, 2022, 03:12:13 AM »



Yet another disc of new music, for me, from Mr Heymann's company.  Deqing Wen is a Chinese born Swiss composer, and another artist who deftly blends disparate influences and cultures in his artistic corpus.

The recording opens with Shanghai Prelude, which is really a Cello Concerto, and while it purports to mix baroque and Chinese music, it sounds more varied than that.  Sure, there's the baroque(ish) form, and some folk music, but one hears Strauss and Stravinsky and Balada and a hodge-podge of post-war neo-isms.  The music sounds ridiculously well blended together unfolds in a continuous almost twenty-minute stream.  It demands some gnarly playing from the soloist - and band - and it almost seems to end just as it's getting good.  I mean, like, yeah.  Nicolas Altstaedt must perform and record this piece.  The high register playing and virtuosic writing also mandates that Sung Won Yang take up the work, as well. 

The Fantasia of Peony Pavilion, based on the work by Ming Dynasty writer Tang Xianzu.  One can hear folk traits, but here expressionistic opera and post-war, aggressive orchestral music dominate proceedings.  The energy, texture, and vitality make it pop.  Where has it been all my life, or at least since 2013?  The oldest work on the disc, Variation of a Rose, from 2000, is based on a Xinjiang folk song named A lovable Rose.  The composer was inspired by personal events to write a piece that very much sounds like a more dissonant, tense, updated version of Barber's Adagio for Strings.  Nice.

Inspiration moves from east to west with Nostalgia, a set of variations based on a French folksong.  The same fluid, continuous musical unfolding from prior works occurs here, while the music sounds less intense and dense.  It still packs a lot into a brief nine-minute span, with ample color and elegance and refined bite.  The disc closes with Love Song and River Chant, an orchestration of a set of piano variations.  Based on folk songs again, only the percussion sort of give away the far eastern influences, because it sounds more Slavic or middle eastern, and then filtered through dense, very western sounding writing with hints of known names (Strauss again, for instance).

Overall, another fine collection of works deserving more performances (the opening piece, especially), and further exploration of the composer's work.

Superb playing and sound from all involved. 
The universe is change; life is opinion. - Marcus Aurelius, Meditations

People would rather believe than know - E.O. Wilson

Offline Todd

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Re: "New" Music Log
« Reply #535 on: June 04, 2022, 05:32:11 AM »

   
An all-New Zealand affair.   Composer, soloist, conductor, and ensembles all hail from the country.  The Lilburn Trust underwrote the recording, just like it funded one of Michael Houstoun’s LvB sonata cycles.  Yep, this here’s a fully southern hemisphere deal.

Geographical niceties aside, it’s time for the music.  For no reason at all, I expected something melodic and tuneful, like an updated Vaughn Williams.  Nope.  The seven movement Piano Concerto that opens the disc starts off in full boom-clang mode, which initially made me think of Hakola’s chore of work to sit through, but fortunately the work is more properly scaled and much more satisfying.  The first movement is a Funeral March – it was written in memory of a deceased friend – and that material serves as the inspiration for the rest of the work.  Sure enough, the faster music in the form of two scherzo and a Presto sound similar, but the atmospheric magic happens in the two adagios and the middle Addolorato.  Sparser, quieter, sometimes trailing off into near silence and sometimes peppered with some night music, it compels. 

The second work, I passaggi dell'anima, or Landscapes of the Soul, gives the disc its title and explores links between painting, music, and landscapes, and was undertaken in conjunction with the painter Maurizio Bottarelli.  Whether one agrees that the work successfully links the subjects at hand or not, the music does sound string-dominated, close to tuneful at times, or least aurally pleasing to this listener, and it does mix accessible contemporary compositional style, nicely varied rhythm, and as promised by the composer, evolving motifs.  This sound like precisely the type of work that orchestras ought to program in well balanced concerts.  Most enjoyable.

The disc closes with a fairly rare type of concerto, a concerto for String Quartet and Orchestra.  (The not properly edited liner notes refer to a Sting Quartet in one instance.)  Martinu wrote one, and I have a recording of that, but I think that’s it for this type of concerto in my collection.  The New Zealand String Quartet take the four soloist parts, and the eleven section, single movement piece unfolds in a fragmented fast-slow-fast structure.  Unabashedly contemporary but also eminently listenable, one must wait for about five minutes before hearing the full string quartet play together, but one is treated to some concerto like playing from the individual members before that, like brief musical intros.  Some dark brass and string playing from the band add some nice variety, like modern Wagner as filtered through the Second Viennese School, with some Schnittke adding further color.  Weighty, properly proportioned, and taking just the right amount of time, the piece works splendidly. 

Everything here is up to modern standard, including sonics, and artists all do excellent work.
The universe is change; life is opinion. - Marcus Aurelius, Meditations

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Offline Todd

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Re: "New" Music Log
« Reply #536 on: June 11, 2022, 05:18:39 AM »



As with Mr Ruo, this marks the third appearance of Jia Daqun in this thread.  This time the disc is devoted to percussion music.  Generally, I do not listen to a lot of percussion music since it lacks a lot of what I usually want.  But I was game.

Generally speaking, rhythm, clarity, timing, and precise execution rule in percussion music, and so it goes here – for the most part.  The opening piece Pole is an exercise in rhythm and punchiness.  Same for the opening movement of The Song Without Words.  But come the second movement, Arias of Gong and Vibraphone, one gets treated to color and harmony not necessarily anticipated going in.  The final movement, Sonority of Drums is back to rhythm and punch.  The disc closes with Sound Games, for five Chinese percussion players.  This maintains the “generic” percussion music vibe with some vocalization tossed in.

The biggest surprise comes in the third work, the nine-ish minute Prologue of Drums, scored for Chinese drums and Chinese winds.  It’s the winds that make all the difference.  The way Jia combines them really evokes some Wow! moments.  Sometimes they sound like a chamber organ.  Sometimes they sound like modern electronic instruments.  Sometimes they sound eerie and ethereal.  At all times they offer wonderful contrast with the percussion instruments.  The work also has some vocal contributions of the seemingly random shouting variety, which I have heard more than a few times in various works.  Generally, I am not a huge fan of this, but it works better than normal here.  It blends in with the rhythmic elements and reinforces them nicely.  It’s an unusual work, but it offers something very new.  (Okay, it’s from 1994, so it’s not new.)  It’s definitely the highlight of the disc.

Mr Jia’s hit rate in his three discs is quite high, and I should very much like to hear what he can do with a full orchestra and with some solo instruments.  Maybe he can write more for his daughter, including a concerto.  That would be nifty.
The universe is change; life is opinion. - Marcus Aurelius, Meditations

People would rather believe than know - E.O. Wilson

Offline Todd

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Re: "New" Music Log
« Reply #537 on: June 18, 2022, 03:37:52 AM »


Until I stumbled upon this closeout disc, I do not think I had ever even seen the name Douglas Weiland.  Born in 1954, the British composer still cranks out works, with these two dating from 2011 and 2012. 

The disc opens with the Fifth Quartet, and it can best be described as classical era music with some light modernist touches thrown in.  The first violinist of The Melbourne Quartet, Will Hennessy, writes the notes, and he cites the biggest of big names – Haydn, Beethoven, Bartok (more of the first two quartets), Schubert – and it's easy to hear why.  While the music most certainly sounds more dissonant than all but Bartok wrote, there is nonetheless a great deal of beauty.  The opening movement does sound lovely, but man, the Siciliana second movement sounds like a Haydn-Schubert mashup, with some Korngold tossed in, all delivered with some gently spicy dissonance.  The concluding two part final movement maintains the gentle modernity soundworld to start, but the Presto section adds some verve, and even a little bite, but it sounds light rather than weighed down.  Weiland crafts easily accessible contemporary music in this quartet.

The disc then moves back to the Fourth Quartet, which comes in at almost thirty-eight minutes spread across five movements, and sounds more modernist, with Bartok the most obvious influence for much of the work.  Weiland does not merely imitate, but some of the techniques sound very close to the Hungarian’s work.  Weiland does maintain a dissonant yet attractive sound, and with the ensemble layering on the vibrato in places, one also gets the sense of some hints of Britten tossed in the mix.  The Scherzo Germanesque has hints of Schubert, but also Zemlinksy and Schoenberg.  After that, the brief Intermezzo sounds relaxed and quite beautiful, and the concluding Allegro molto has some verve and edge, but sounds more relaxed than the opening movements.  An altogether satisfying and varied work that does not sound as long as its timing suggests. 

The Melbourne Quartet play the works magnificently and sound quality is basically SOTA. 

A treat of a disc.
The universe is change; life is opinion. - Marcus Aurelius, Meditations

People would rather believe than know - E.O. Wilson

Offline Todd

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Re: "New" Music Log
« Reply #538 on: June 18, 2022, 09:14:50 AM »
Just wanted to comment so this thread doesn't seem like a void (I am confident that Todd doesn't view it as such)


I see the view count, and even discounting bots, it is clear someone reads the posts.
The universe is change; life is opinion. - Marcus Aurelius, Meditations

People would rather believe than know - E.O. Wilson

Offline (: premont :)

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Re: "New" Music Log
« Reply #539 on: June 18, 2022, 01:40:18 PM »

I see the view count, and even discounting bots, it is clear someone reads the posts.

Yes, I'm one of the regular readers.
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