LANGGAARD: Symphony No. 6, “Heaven-Storming.” Music of the Spheres

LANGGAARD: Symphony No. 6, “Heaven-Storming.” Music of the Spheres. Edith Guil­laume, soprano (Spheres); Danish Radio Chorus and Orchestra (Spheres) conducted by John Frandsen; auxiliary orchestra conducted by Peter Weis; DANACORD D.M.A. 064, produced by Ingolf Gabold (Symphony) and Peter Willernoes

For the past 10 or 15 years there has been an unmistakable, if modest, wave of musicological interest in Northern European symphonic music of the 20th century. Yet, while listeners pursue their enthusiasms for Pettersson, Brian, Rubbra, Sallinen, and others (stimu­lated by vigorous recording activity in their respective countries), the Danish composer Rued Langgaard (1893-1952) remains surprisingly unknown. I say surprisingly because, apart from the merit of his music (usually a relatively small factor in the attention drawn to a composer), Langgaard was a fascinatingly provocative and enigmatic figure. Defiantly romantic, he sought to embody grand spiritual visions in his music. Though he earned his liv­ing as a church organist, he composed 16 symphonies, with subtitles such as “Defoliation,” “Belief in Miracles,” “Flood of Sun,” in addition to the “Heaven-Storming” heard on this disc.

Langgaard’s early works were rooted in the language of mainstream Central European Romanticism. However, toward the end of World War I, he began to explore more unconven­tional techniques: tone-clusters, a kind of angular, dissonant polyphony, and, particularly, a static approach to texture and sonority that might be said to anticipate, in a very crude way, developments of 50 years ahead. These seemingly incompatible stylistic threads are jux­taposed with bewildering incongruity in Music of the Spheres and in Langgaard’s magnum opus, Antikrist, an opera-oratorio that occupied him for 20 years and was recently broadcast in Denmark.

According to Bo Marschner’s article in The New Grove (very little has been written on Langgaard in English), during the 1920s he became so infuriated by the mundane objectivity of the neoclassical trends then flourishing that he abandoned his radical experimentation (which had all been wildly cosmic in intent) after less than a decade, and reverted to a stub­bornly reactionary romanticism. This he accompanied by virulent polemical attacks on the prevailing music establishment. As with Pettersson, such refusal to “play ball” was rewarded by total ostracism from his musical community.

What is the music like? In its metaphysics it suggests Bruckner and Scriabin; on the other hand, composers like Ives, Brian, and even Grainger or Cowell come to mind as musico-historical analogies—visionaries interesting more for what they attempted than for what they achieved, who often combined the most radical and most conventional elements simultaneously, and who seemed hampered by technical incompetence in realizing their visions convincingly. In sound, Langgaard offers a truly strange, often very static and un­digested array of associations, from Wagner and Liszt to Nielsen to proto-Ligeti.

Both works on this disc date from the late teens, or shortly thereafter, and represent two of Langgaard’s most “important” compositions, in the conventional musicological sense, i.e., they are among his most experimental ventures. However, they are not necessarily his most successfully realized ones. Music of the Spheres comprises some 15 sections and lasts about 35 minutes. The work is accompanied by the motto, “The stars may seem to twinkle kindly, but their message is cold and merciless.” The individual sections also bear captions like “Longing, desperation, and ecstasy,” “About seeing the sun through tears,” “Like sunbeams upon a flower-decked coffin.” Much of the choral contribution is wordless and atmospheric, while the soprano has one solo, set to a poem by Ida Lock. The work does contain galvanizing moments that seem always on the verge of launching into really satisfy­ing music. But such moments usually prove to be abortive, and the work gropes clumsily from one section to the next, ultimately providing the rather frustrating feeling of unfulfilled expectation.

The Symphony No. 6. “Heaven-Storming” followed closely on the heels of Music of the Spheres. It is another work of grand ambition, bearing the motto, “Then Jesus used force and drove the storming armies of evil under the canopy of heaven…. ” While the earlier work re­veals Langgaard reaching in the direction of a Ligeti, the “Heaven-Storming,” a far more linear work, displays a polyphony not unlike that of Hindemith. However, if Music of the Spheres suffers from insufficient motion, then this symphony suffers from an excess of activ­ity. The work plunges headlong into a turbulent morass of grim, undifferentiated contrapuntal sludge, punctuated occasionally by apocalyptic climaxes. After a while the effect becomes as static as in the other work.

I am interested to hear more of Langgaard’s music. His Symphony No. 4. “Defoliation” (Danish EMI 6C 063-38100) is a far more romantic work and adds another dimension to the picture presented on this disc. On the basis of what I have heard thus far, Langgaard ap­pears to be an intriguing character whose reach far exceeded his grasp.

These concert peformances are adequate, and are reproduced well on a disc that lasts nearly an hour.

KILLMAYER: Nocturnes (to John Field). SCRIABIN: Sonata No. 10. Three Etudes, Op. 65. FISER: Sonata No. 4.

KILLMAYER: Nocturnes (to John Field). SCRIABIN: Sonata No. 10. Three Etudes, Op. 65. FISER: Sonata No. 4. Volker Banfield, piano. WERGO WER-60081, produced by Ulrich Kraus

This is an astounding record, and commands interest on many levels. Volker Banfield is a brilliant German pianist in his mid-30s who studied in the United States and has now returned to his own country. Not only do the pieces selected for this recording have great merit in their own right, but as a group they share a common aesthetic thread: each, in its own way, delves into dark, eldritch psychic realms. Banfield performs these works—each monstrously difficult, both technically and musically—with complete pianistic mastery and with unflinching interpretive conviction, making the entire record a complete, awe-inspiring artistic whole.

Wilhelm Killmayer (b. 1927) is probably the most fascinating composer in West Germany today. Wergo has released a number of his highly original, enigmatic works, as has Colosseum, another German company (see Fanfare 11:2, p. 72). Independent of any con­temporary-music clique, other than the disparate group that might be termed “meditative metaphysical seekers” and includes Miloslav Kabeláč, Andrzej Panufnik, and others, Kill­mayer’s music displays impressive psychological depth as well as consummate control of musical materials. One clearly senses in Killmayer a powerful and individual creative mind. These 1975 Nocturnes are haunting quests in and around the rhetoric of romanticism. Familiar 19th-century phraseology slides in and out of focus like the unsettling shifts of perspective in a dream, creating at times an almost Jekyll/Hyde effect. These pieces leave far behind the superficially similar crazy quilts of Rochberg, Bolcom, and others, whose work appears as amateurish gimmickry by comparison. The primary impressions of Kill­mayer’s five Nocturnes are of poetic mood-paintings; the echoes and glimpses of earlier styles provide a secondary level of fascination. Pianist Banfield’s projection of these ex­traordinary pieces fulfills the challenges of the music, and he plays them as if they were acknowledged masterpieces, as indeed he should.

The jacket describes Volker Banfield as a specialist in the piano music of Scriabin, and his performances of these works, all among the most excruciatingly difficult of Scriabin’s demonic late pieces, confirm the claim beyond a doubt. I am one who feels that Scria­bin’s great visionary impetus was matched by a compositional technique fully capable of consummating his intuitions into satisfying artistic entities, both large and small. But one of the reasons Scriabin’s skill is so often discredited is that few pianists possess the musical intelligence necessary to distinguish the kaleidoscopic textural threads according to their relative importance, while simultaneously retaining the unifying rhythmic sweep. I have witnessed pianists such as Richter and Horowitz fail to penetrate the pieces on this disc with the fluent comprehension that Banfield demonstrates.

Rounding off the record is the Piano Sonata No. 4 of Czech composer Lubos Fišer. Fišer, now in his mid-40s, is one of the more intriguing members of the group of Czech composers who seem to focus on the musical expression of the macabre. (Listen, for example, to Fišer’s virtually insane Crux for violin and percussion on Panton 11-0351.) The Piano Sonata No. 4, based on the opening motif of Scriabin’s Sonata No. 10, is pure Fišer. Not overly impressive on a structural level, the work is a string of episodes that evokes a menacing sense of terror through sharp, brittle outbursts, sinister ostinatos, and sudden dynamic contrasts. While not as sophisticated as Killmayer or Kabeláč, Fišer produces some stunning gestures and effects. Again Banfield presents the music in the most force­ful, convincing way, concentrating on the dynamic extremes, powerful sonorities, and brittle articulation.

This is one of the most compelling records of piano music I have ever heard. Not only do I recommend it to those voracious contemporary-music enthusiasts, but also to every devotee of serious piano music and of intelligent pianism. With great eagerness I await more opportunities to appreciate Banfield’s artistry through further explorations of visionary piano literature. Wergo, new distributed in the U.S. by both German News and European American Music, has provided a fine sonic canvas for Banfield. Sound quality is rich and full; surface noise is minimal.

HOVHANESS: Symphony No. 38, Op. 314.

HOVHANESS: Symphony No. 38, Op. 314. Hinako Fujihara, soprano; Northwest Cham­ber Orchestra conducted by Alan Hovhaness. PANDORA PAN 3001.

After many years of exploring in virtual obscurity a highly distinctive musical pursuit, whose uniqueness in America has been shared, only partially perhaps, by Henry Cowell, Lou Harrison, and John Cage, Alan Hovhaness and his blend of archaic Western elements with aspects from a variety of Eastern musical cultures began during the 1960’s to achieve a substantial and broadly based following. This recognition was stimulated partially by the attraction of the youth movement to the work of Indian musicians like Ravi Shankar (remember “raga rock”?). However, there has always been much in Hovhaness’ music worthy of legitimate admiration, although the haste with which he composes and his apparent absence of self-criticism have resulted in an enormous body of music, much of which shows obvious evidence of re-cycling, over-extension, redundancy, and general carelessness. Yet from each stage of Hovhaness’ evolution, key works stand out as embodying a genuinely transcendental sort of spirituality, expressed with great subtlety and sensitivity. From the 1940’s there is the fiery primordial, yet visionary Armenian splendor of works like Lousadzak, Khaldis, and Anahid, alongside which Khachaturian sounds like middle-Eastern Muzak; and there are those evocations of early-Christian ecclesiastical ecstasy, such as Alleluia and Fugue, Avak the Healer, and the Celestial Fantasy.

During the 1950’s, these two threads were woven together, and combined with influences from India and Japan, in a profusion of highly varied, original, and fully convincing compositions, from the exquisite delicacy of a miniature masterpiece like Upon Enchanted Ground to the substantial, almost symphonic impact of works like the Concertos Nos. 7 and 8 for Orchestra, Talin, and the Symphony No. 2, “Mysterious Mountain,” and Symphony No. 6, “Celestial Gate.”

During the 1960’s, what had hitherto been a relatively minor element in Hovhaness’ music—quasi-aleatoric waves of buzzing sound that rose in giant crescendos and then receded—began to assume central importance. This technique was often combined with a kind of slow, angular, canonic melodic style with sliding pitches, derived from ancient Korean music, giving birth to works that, at their best, as in Floating World-Ukiyo and Fra Angelico, evoke a spirit of wild, menacing chaotic power and frenzy, or timeless cosmic serenity.

In the 1970’s, another stage in Hovhaness’ evolution began to emerge, as he appeared to embrace certain harmonic and melodic materials that had previously seemed inimical to the diatonic purity of the Hovhaness idiom: he introduced a large dose of chromaticism  into his polyphony, and elevated the half-diminished-seventh chord to primary harmonic stature. Along with these harmonic innovations appeared a marked simplification of texture and, most of all, a distinct retardation of rhythmic motion. New works were longer, but the integration of structure and content necessary to sustain them was wholly absent. Of course, Hovhaness followers were used to wading through a dozen new works in search of a winner, but the winner seemed not to appear. Now, nearly 10 years have passed, during which time approximately 20 new symphonies have been added to the Hovhaness canon. Having become acquainted with nearly half of these, as well as a number of miscellaneous pieces, I have yet to discover a redeeming work from this period. True, some works, like the 24th and 29th Symphonies, have attractive moments that shine out from the surrounding mire. But, for the most part, these are long, tired, over­blown, and directionless behemoths that simply cannot sustain the attention of the most sympathetic listener. Yes, Hovhaness’ music has always been simple, and he has always sought to create a sense of serenity. But there is a difference between simplicity and simple-mindedness, and a difference between serenity and catatonia.

To take the 1978 Symphony No. 38 as an example: the work begins in a lovely, if familiar, hymnlike manner, proceeding soon to a vigorous fugue that raises hopes that the Symphony may signal a rejuvenation. The second movement is also fairly attractive. The third movement introduces the solo soprano (on this recording, the 68-year-old com­poser’s newly wedded wife). But by now the action has bogged down in a long, repetitious pentatonic flute solo, and the entrance of the soprano, who continues the melismatic line over a lightly scored accompaniment, does not provide the needed relief or contrast. From here on to the end of the nearly hour-long Symphony, the pace varies between moderately slow and unbearably slow. During this stretch of time, long cantorial lines are extended way beyond their ability to hold one’s interest, enriched by scarcely any tex­tural, contrapuntal, or harmonic involvement. The fifth and concluding movement, plod­ding along in the same vein as the foregoing, offers no sense of finality or summation; the music simply ceases. The overall effect is numbing, and one marvels sadly at the apparent absence of judgment exercised in the manipulation of large units of time duration.

The performance on this recording is presumably authoritative. The small orchestra from Seattle, Hovhaness’ current home, is rather tentative, but quite adequate technically, and the solo playing is competent. Soprano Hinako Fujihara’s unusually high range is challenged by the composer. The quality of her voice is extremely light and pure, but the limited dynamic and expressive range of the music does not give the listener a very full picture of her capabilities. The quality of the recording is borderline acceptable, but the surfaces are generally rather noisy.

GLASS: Glassworks

GLASS: Glassworks. Philip Glass Ensemble conducted by Michael Riesman. CBS FM 37265. produced by Kurt Munkacsi and Philip Glass.

Glassworks is the first product of CBS’ highly publicized contractual arrangement with Philip Glass—an arrangement that CBS obviously feels will be commercially advantageous, while apparently renewing its traditional commitment to living composers. And who could be more appropriate for this than Philip Glass, a composer with a large, devoted following, a reputation as a leading figure in one of today’s most active avant-garde musical movements, and a recent opera—Satyagraha—thatelicited a wildly enthusiastic audience response and won the praise of Time magazine. After all, here is a modern composer with serious credentials, and people seem drawn to his music. Isn’t this what we’ve all been searching for?

My first reaction to this new release was to say, “In a nutshell, there’s nothing wrong with this–it just isn’t ‘classical’ music.” But that sounds patronizing, and it hangs us up on that old semantic dilemma. What I mean to say is, if you turn to music for the opportunity to share someone else’s perceptions and perspectives on the “big” issues of life, for a multi-level experience that reveals its greatest depths only with increased familiarity, if you like music that requires you to bring your own intellectual, emotional, and psychological faculties to bear on the experience—well, then, I don’t think you’re going to be satisfied with this record.

What we have here are six “cuts”—some slow, some fast—based largely on the static maintenance of a texture created by the arpeggiation of a slow succession of (mostly) added-note and seventh-chords. The appeal of these textures lies in the juxtaposition of different rhythmic patterns produced by the various instruments, combining to create a pulsat­ing composite, communal arpeggiation. (Let me note here that readers who equate or assume that I am equating the music of Glass with that of Steve Reich are making a big mistake. Reich’s recent work is far more stimulating and involved and seems to be growing more so all the time.) Most of the music on Glassworks is produced by acoustic instruments, but gives the impression of electronic synthesis, partly because of the highly mechanical, depersonalized performance style sought and achieved. Mind you, the resulting sound is not at all unpleasant to the ears—in fact, listening to it is rather like continuously popping arti­ficially flavored gum-drops into one’s mouth. There is an essential simple-mindedness, a spiritual vacuousness, to this music, which somewhat resembles rock music before the melody track has been laid down. And there, I believe, is a clue to this record’s intended level of appeal. In a very serious sense, this is a sort of artsy counterpart to disco music—a plugging-in to basic neurological or endocrinological sensation unmediated by conscious facul­ties, comparable to the anesthetic attraction of a TV sitcom or cop show, a video game, or other artifact of current mass culture.

Sound quality and surfaces are impeccable. No program notes are included. (I wonder why not.) Incidentally, CBS has mixed the cassette version of this disc especially with the Sony Walkman-type tape players in mind, compensating for the reduced bass response characteristic of those machines.

FLAGELLO: Sonata for Violin and Piano. Declamation for Violin and Piano. Harp Sonata. CORIGLIANO: Sonata for Violin and Piano. Music for harp by Tournier, Dussek, Faure, Salzedo, Prokofiev.

FLAGELLO: Sonata for Violin and Piano. Declamation for Violin and Piano. CORIGLIANO: Sonata for Violin and Piano. Eugene Fodor, violin; Arlene Portney, piano. LAUREL LR-137, produced by Herschel Burke Gilbert.

THE VIRTUOSO HARP. Erica Goodman, harp. BIS CD-319 (compact disc), produced by Rob­ert von Bahr. Music by FLAGELLO, TOURNIER, DUSSEK, FAURÉ. SALZEDO,PROKOFIEV

The music of Nicolas Flagello is one of our culture’s well-kept secrets. Very few of his major works have been recorded and most of the recordings that do exist present the music in rather mediocre performances. Yet Flagello is a composer ideally suited to the tastes and values of a large number of today’s listeners. Assuming the grand romantic stance without the embar­rassment or self-conscious distancing of the “New Romantics,” his music is serious in tone, emotionally gripping, and tightly structured, while clearly revealing its roots in the language of turn-of-the-century Europe. Despite developmental techniques that are thoroughly traditional, Flagello’s own voice is so powerful and his conviction so intense that one quickly overlooks the suggestion of anachronism prompted by a birth-date of 1928 and a birthplace of New York City and instead focuses on the distinctive creative personality that emerges.

As one might expect from the foregoing description, the core of Flagello’s output lies in large-scale works for large forces—operas, symphonies, oratorios, concertos, and the like, of which there are many. Of course, the economics of today’s music world successfully ensure that such works remain in oblivion. However, the three pieces offered now in their first recordings, though relatively small in scale, are substantial, mature, and ambitious—representative of his best efforts. And in the fine performances and superb recorded presentations found here, they serve as excellent introductions for those listeners not yet familiar with the music of this remarkable composer. 

The two sonatas date from the early 1960s, a period that saw the appearance of some of Flagello’s most significant works. Both are conventional in outer form: Each is 15 minutes in duration, and each consists of three movements. Both reveal to some degree the composer’s deep spiritual affinity with Ernest Bloch. The harp sonata, in particular, opens with a stern motif quite reminiscent of Bloch’s Concerto Grosso No. 1. As the movement develops, its mood grows turbulent, reflected in writing of considerable textural complexity—quite demanding for the harpist, in view of the instrument’s essential unwieldiness in handling freely chromatic counterpoint. The violin sonata’s first movement also reflects a sense of agitation and turbu­lence, though it opens with a sweet wistfulness. Both movements are highly concentrated, allowing no gratuitous redundancy, yet with plenty of room for their dramas to unfold and for their passionate lyricism to soar.

The slow movements of both sonatas are also conveniently comparable. Both follow a favorite style-format of Flagello’s: the gloomy, dark-hued barcarolle. The Lento of the Harp Sonata is the highpoint of the work—a poignantly simple but hauntingly atmospheric melody framing a climactic central section. The slow movement of the violin sonata is more vocal in character, a somber recitative followed by a plaintive aria. Both movements are directly affecting and thematically memorable in a manner rare in music of recent decades.

Flagello’s final movements lean at times toward a grotesque jocularity that may seem a bit forced and obligatory. (At such times conventional principles of balance seem in conflict with a natural proclivity for darker, weightier subject matter.) The finales of both sonatas might be said to exemplify this tendency, though they do fulfill their roles successfully. The third movement of the harp sonata, in particular, comes close to sustaining the emotional and intellectual depth of the preceding movements, concluding what is certainly one of the most musically sat­isfying solo works in the instrument’s repertoire.

The Declamation is an intensely power-packed work of about eight minutes. Compared to the two sonatas, it is somewhat more “dissonant” in its harmonic language, more angular in its contours and patterns, and more terse and concentrated in its phraseology. (Its somewhat greater astringency is not attributable to its slightly later date of composition [1967] as Flagello’s style has remained essentially unchanged since 1959, although his mature language dis­plays considerable breadth and flexibility.) The work’s title comes from the solemn and declamatory prelude and postlude that present (and recapitulate) the motivic material devel­oped in a central section marked by continual restless turmoil.

The early Violin Sonata of John Corigliano serves as a fascinating counterpart to the Flagello works. Though they occupy roughly the same stylistic “camp,” broadly speaking, among the various “schools” of American music, and are equivalently “modern” in their language, Corigliano’s is drastically different music: high-spirited, showy, and much more “American-sounding.” Its idiom is less individual—derived from Piston, Barber, Bernstein, and Proko­fiev—and its import is far less personal. It is a fun piece, full of energy, graced by pretty melo­dies, and offering an appropriate measure of virtuosic excitement.

For some time Corigliano’s Sonata has been represented by a brilliant and authoritative performance by the composer’s father, with pianist Ralph Votapek. Laurel’s new release features far more up-to-date recording qualities, and Fodor’s performance is somewhat more polished, although not without some technical snags in a few particularly difficult pas­sages. In the Flagello pieces, where there is no recorded competition, Fodor submits vigorous, assured readings that convey the impact of the music with authority. Pianist Arlene Portney offers solid support.

For the remainder of her harp recital, Erica Goodman provides a varied and enjoyable program. The 15-minute Sonatine by the well-known harpist Marcel Tournier inhabits a lush, richly textured impressionist vein. Listeners fond of this language will find it a rewarding piece that offers somewhat more depth than many pieces of the genre. And even Dussek, Bohemian contemporary of Muzio Clementi, is heard to advantage in an absolutely lovely sonata (in one of my least favorite styles). Harpist Carlos Salzedo is represented by a piece called Scintillation, which he wrote in 1936. This is a surprisingly abstract, austere treatment of several Latin ele­ments to form a challenging display piece. The other selections are better-known: Fauré’s richly imaginative Impromptu and Prokofiev’s charming Prelude in C. Goodman surveys this de­manding program with astonishing aplomb, appearing not to be fazed in the least by any of the technical challenges encountered—and the Flagello sonata provides more than its share. In fact, if there is fault to be found, it is in a certain stiffness and coldness of phrasing, where a bit of warmth and flexibility might have been stylistically appropriate. Nevertheless, her playing exhibits a degree of technical security and control rarely encountered on the harp. The sonic ambience provided by BIS is somewhat reverberant, but not at all unpleasant. 

FINZI: Intimations of Immortality. Cello Concerto. In Terra Pax. A Severn Rhapsody. Introit. Nocturne (New Year Music). Prelude. Three Soliloquies. Romance. The Fall of the Leaf. Farewell to Arms. Two Milton Sonnets. Let Us Garlands Bring.

FINZI: Intimations of Immortality. Ian Partridge, tenor; Guildford Philharmonic Choir and Orchestra conducted by Vernon Handley. LYRITA SRCS 75

FINZI: A Severn Rhapsody. Introit. Nocturne (New Year Music). Prelude. Three Soliloquies. Romance. The Fall of the Leaf. London Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Sir Adrian Boult. LYRITA SRCS 84

FINZI: Farewell to Arms. Two Milton Sonnets. Let Us Garlands Bring. In Terra Pax. Ian Partridge, tenor (Farewell; Milton); John Carol Case, baritone (Garlands); Jane Manning, soprano and John Noble, baritone (Terra Pax); John Alldis Choir (Terra Pax); New Philharmonia Orchestra conducted by Vernon Handley. LYRITA SRCS 93

FINZI: Concerto for Cello and Orchestra. Yo-Yo Ma, cello; Royal Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Vernon Handley. LYRITA SRCS 112

This review heralds the increased accessibility in the United States of four magnificent recordings of music by Gerald Finzi, all originally released in England on Lyrita during the late 1970s. The performance of Intimations of Immortality had been licensed at one time to Musical Heritage Society, and was available on MHS 3598; the disc of short orchestral works conducted by Boult had been issued on the defunct HNH label (4077). It is indeed fortunate to have these discs available to American collectors, so many of whom seemed to discover this extraordinary composer just as the records were dropping out of circulation. The original Lyrita pressings are superb—better than the erstwhile MHS and HNH alternatives.

If one were to try to specify the “essential” Gerald Finzi on records, these four discs would probably comprise the best selection. A choice is difficult, but one can reasonably claim Intimations of Immortality as perhaps the composer’s most fully realized major work, reflecting on a large scale both the majestic nobility and breadth and the sensitivity to poetic meaning so characteristic of Finzi. It is interesting to reflect on the similarities between this work and The Dream of Gerontius, to which it is deeply indebted musically, and, in many ways, is a worthy sequel. Though completed a full half-century after Elgar’s oratorio, there is virtually nothing in the later work that would be stylistically inappropriate in the earlier one. (To quote Finzi scholar Diana McVeagh, describing another piece: “This music is itself a symbol, and by being so ‘out of time’ becomes timeless.”) Is it a coincidence that, while Elgar’s work deals with the journey of a soul from life to after-life, Finzi’s contemplates the passage from pre-life into life?

Representing another side of.Finzi’s art is the disc containing seven short orchestral pieces, conducted by the late Sir Adrian Boult. While some may find the repeated expres­sions of restrained, elegiac lyricism too much for one sitting, almost every piece is a gem on its own terms (my favorites are the Introit, Romance, and The Fall of the Leaf). Perfect for late-night listening, this disc is a must for every Finzi lover.

SRCS 93 presents four works that demonstrate Finzi’s mastery of poetic setting on a smaller scale—which many would probably assert is Finzi’s greatest gift of all. Here he un­dertakes, respectively, five Shakespeare settings (dedicated to Vaughan Williams on his 70th birthday), two of Milton, poems by Ralph Knevet and George Peele (16th-17th cen­turies), and a 20th-century Christmas poem by Robert Bridges. These four works depict vari­ous aspects of Finzi’s undeniably narrow stylistic range, from the lighter, almost folk-like tunes in the Shakespeare settings (listen once to “It was a lover and his lass” and you will never forget it), through the darker, more probing Milton settings, through the more outgoing, straightforwardly descriptive In Terra Pax, to Farewell to Arms, with its Bach-arioso-like melody, Finzi’s most identifiable trademark. As always, the taste is impeccable, the tre­mendous intelligence never failing, the music never uninteresting.

The fourth disc contains Finzi’s Cello Concerto, his last major work. In it he reached beyond the perimeter within which he was usually content to remain. Though not his only major abstract work, it is clearly his most ambitious. Here he sought not only to master the challenge of a large formal structure, but also, through it, to express a more complex, varied range of emotions than was usual for him. This undertaking was no doubt influenced by an awareness that the Cello Concerto was to be one of his final works. Again Elgar comes to mind—in this case, his valedictory cello concerto—as an obvious point of comparison. While Finzi’s overall stylistic debt to Elgar is beyond dispute, his concerto is an estimable work in its own right. Elgar’s is clearly a retrospective work, by a composer of weakened creativity—its strengths are best appreciated when viewed with an indulgent critical eye. Finzi’s concerto, written by a man still in his prime, is a clearer, more balanced structure, at times revealing an aggressive, defiant spirit. However, 41 minutes is a long time for a composer like Finzi to sus­tain interest; while the second movement—familiar territory for him—is lovely, the outer movements show a degree of strain and their energy does flag noticeably. Nevertheless, it is a worthy contribution among cello concertos, and one that provides pleasant respite from the standard array of empty virtuoso vehicles. It is, ironically, noteworthy that a celebrated soloist like Yo-Yo Ma has taken the initiative of introducing the public to an unusual work like this, and I look forward to his continued interest in this and other works that can enrich the stagnant concerto repertoire. I am often asked how it is that conductors and soloists who claim to be concerned with broadening their audiences and rejuvenating the repertoire can pass over the music of composers like Finzi, in favor of some obviously incoherent sham per­petrated by a composer who has managed to elbow himself momentarily into the limelight, or a stale warhorse that has long ago lost whatever luster it may have had. I recently had the oc­casion to speak with Yo-Yo Ma, and asked him whether he had many opportunities to per­form the Finzi concerto, which he plays beautifully on this recording. He replied that he has tried repeatedly to interest conductors in the work. However, he has discovered that since they are unfamiliar with Finzi’s music, they simply dismiss it on the assumption that it couldn’t be worth the effort to learn. (I find that amateur music aficionados are invariably incredulous to learn that, in many cases, their sophistication in matters of repertoire exceeds that of quite a few celebrated artists.)

The performances on all four of these records are superb, as is the sound quality throughout. Among the many fine musicians represented, the extraordinary artistry of tenor Ian Partridge warrants special mention. Great praise also goes to Lyrita, a company whose high standards in every aspect of production set an example for the industry. It is through recordings like these that music lovers around the world have begun to discover some of the treasures from the past hundred years of English music. 

ELGAR: The Dream of Gerontius.

ELGAR: The Dream of Gerontius. Nicolai Gedda, tenor; Helen Watts, alto; Robert Lloyd, bass; London Philharmonic Choir; John Alldis Choir; New Philharmonia Orchestra conducted by Sir Adrian Boult. MUSICAL HERITAGE SOCIETY MHS-827246X (two LPs), produced by Christopher Bishop

The choral works of Sir Edward Elgar have not been absorbed into the mainstream international repertoire the way his orchestral works have, in recent years. The Dream of Gerontius, venerated as a classic in England, where choral music plays a central role, is still something of a rarity here. I have encountered a surprising number of aficionados of late-Romantic music who remain ignorant of this work, which Richard Strauss praised lavishly when he heard it in 1902. Elgar himself wrote, “This is the best of me,” and his esteemed biographer Michael Kennedy describes it as “wholly Elgarian in its fluency and its remarkable combination of grandiloquence, ecstasy, and intimacy,” while Sir John Barbirolli sensed that it was “written in a constant white heat of inspiration.” I myself am in the fullest agreement with these observations.

Probably its text and subject matter are responsible for its relative neglect in this country, as Cardinal Newman’s florid, elevated piety could hardly be less in keeping with today’s cul­tural climate. Concerning the journey of a dying man’s soul as it leaves his body and rises to face its judgment, in the company of a sympathetic Guardian Angel, who comforts it, discuss­ing its fears and uncertainties, this dramatic poem was viewed as anachronistic even when it appeared in 1865. Dvořak had intended to set the poem, but reconsidered in light of its con­troversial content. Elgar’s decision in 1898 to use it as the subject of a major work signified a public assertion of his own Catholicism, which had until then been a source of discomfort and embarrassment for him.

In music, however, religious sentiments that blaze with mystical fervor are usually more compelling than those (e.g., Brahms’ German Requiem) that are diluted by detachment and apologetic rationalism. The intensity of Elgar’s conviction results here in a work of consistent exaltation, nobility, and spiritual beauty, a work in which vocal solos, operatic in their melodic immediacy, are masterfully integrated with spacious choral writing and majestic but dignified orchestration. The sheer musical interest is so high that the work’s two long, unbroken sections, which treat this rarefied spiritual content with little contrast in pace or mood for more than 90 minutes, never lapse into dullness.

There have been four stereo recordings of Gerontius, all originating in England: one, from 1965, featuring tenor Richard Lewis and mezzo Janet Baker, conducted by Sir John Barbirolli, at one time issued on Angel SB-3660, and still available from England as EMI SLS-770; Lon­don 1293, released in 1972, featuring the late Peter Pears and Yvonne Minton, and conducted by Benjamin Britten; CRD 1026/7, released in 1977, with soloists Robert Tear and Alfreda Hodgson, and conductor Alexander Gibson, available for a few years as Vanguard VSD­71258/9; and Boult’s 1976 recording, still in print as EMI SLS-987, but newly reissued in Musical Heritage Society’s easily accessible, bargain-priced, no-frills packaging (though with Michael Kennedy’s informative liner notes intact).

On the occasion of the Vanguard release in 1980 I compared all four versions (see Fanfare 3:5, pp. 74-76), finding the most satisfactory to be those conducted by Boult and Barbirolli. Both conductors had the benefit of close personal association with the composer’s own personal interpretation of the work. This is not necessarily an unqualified key to musical understanding, but in this case, at any rate, seems to have left the two with a more sympathetic attitude toward the work. Of the two, Boult’s recording is the more polished in almost every respect and is thus probably the more appealing to the casual listener: Nicolai Gedda offers the best Gerontius of all of them—the only one not disfigured by vocal flaws and mannerisms. Moreover, Gedda is the only one to imbue Gerontius with the human, flesh-and-blood quality distinctly indicated by Elgar. Robert Lloyd offers stunning renditions of the two bass solos, while Helen Watts is a fine, musically sensitive Angel. In addition, the sound quality is the best of the four, with a fullness and spaciousness that do justice to superb orchestral and choral performances.

However, there is one unfortunate liability with this performance: the conducting of Sir Adrian himself. Although Boult is held in high esteem by many, my own admiration for him is limited to his bringing to the public so many of the glories of the 20th-century English orchestral repertoire—the music of Vaughan Williams and others. Indeed, I believe it is his almost exclusive association with this repertoire that is largely responsible for his high reputation. But I have always found him to be quite a dull, pedestrian interpreter, with very little to contribute in the way of musical insight. In those cases, as in Gerontius, where he attempted to offer more than a purely literal reading, the results could be awfully insensitive, with misgauged tempo modifications that distorted the work’s dramatic topography. Weaknesses of this kind are espe­cially destructive to the impression made by an unfamiliar work as they may easily go unno­ticed, their consequences attributed to the work itself. For this reason, I urge listeners to seek out the Barbirolli recording, at least as a second version. Here despite dated sonics, mediocre orchestral playing from the Hallé Orchestra, and a strident, sibilant (but musically intelligent) Richard Lewis, one encounters a deeply sensitive, profoundly loving conception. Barbirolli’s phrasing is meticulous, projecting the impact of the work with awe-inspiring eloquence. Moreover, with no slight intended toward the artistry of Helen Watts, Yvonne Minton, or Alfreda Hodgson, who grace the three other recordings with exceedingly fine renderings of the role of the Angel, they must all bow before Janet Baker (who, in a radio interview, aptly cited this recording as one of the greatest achievements of her career). Her incandescent portrayal offers a warmth and intimacy that becomes a true embodiment of the almost maternal devotion sug­gested by Elgar’s music.

So we are left with two almost complementary mixed blessings that, admittedly, create a problem for the listener contemplating a single version of this masterpiece. (I would recommend going for both of them.) One more warning must be raised regarding this MHS reissue: The surfaces of my review copy were quite poor; listeners with reasonably sensitive equipment are advised to proceed with caution.

SCHWANTNER: New Morning for the World. COPLAND: A Lincoln Portrait. WALKER. An Eastman Overture.

SCHWANTNER: New Morning for the World. COPLAND: A Lincoln Portrait. WALKER. An Eastman Overture. Willie Stargell, narrator (Schwantner); William Warfield, narrator (Copland); Eastman Philharmonia conducted by David Effron. MERCURY 289-411 031-1, pro­duced by John Santuccio and Rayburn Wright

Following the musical development of Joseph Schwantner rather closely for several years has given me a strong feeling of ambivalence. On the one hand, an authentic musical sensibility can be discerned, together with an impetus toward direct and clear communica­tion, and a gift for combining highly imaginative sonorities with affecting melodic/harmonic motifs. The result is a greater emotional immediacy than most of Schwantner’s contem­poraries have been able to accomplish. On the other hand, after becoming familiar with even a small number of his works, one begins to realize that Schwantner’s range is quite narrow, relying on a small number of different devices: richly colored ascending arpeggios that are subsequently fragmented and re-articulated through staggered, interlocking effects; deli­cate use of percussion; lusciously orchestrated pyramids that build dramatically, often to solemn quasi-chorales, which cut abruptly to hushed, awesome, slightly elegiac quasi-hymns, squeezing every last tear from poignant appoggiaturas. All of this is quite irresistible on a purely endocrine level, but the effect is more predictable with each new piece.

What is especially disturbing, however, is that Schwantner—very much like such other young Americans as John Corigliano, David Del Tredici, Thomas Pasatieri, and even Philip Glass, in their own respective styles—seems to have focused his effort specifically on those effects that will engender the “big bang” from his audience, bypassing aspects of musical composition that may be harder to achieve. Overlooked, in particular, is the integration of emotional effect with musical development, which requires both disciplined formal logic and a strong contrapuntal foundation. While such virtues may not necessarily be appreciated on an initial encounter, they are essential for prolonged appreciation and enjoyment. In general this laxity seems to distinguish many of the “New Romantics” from the older generations of “Modern American Traditionalists,” exemplified by Giannini, Creston, Persichetti, Mennin, Flagello—or Copland, for that matter, who certainly was able to reach an audience instantly, without sacrificing craftsmanship. It is a matter of commitment to quality, regardless of immediate payoff, and has absolutely nothing to do with the question of accessibility vs. obscurity.

I feel this ambivalence more intensely in regard to Schwantner than to many of his col­leagues, largely because of the considerable extent of his gifts, and I feel it more strongly in reaction to New Morning for the World, one of his most recent works, than to any other I have heard. First performed earlier this year on Martin Luther King’s birthday, the 27-minute orchestral work includes readings from speeches by the black leader.

One has the distinct impression that Schwantner has tried to produce something along the lines of A Lincoln Portrait, certainly a masterpiece of the genre, and comparisons are in­evitable. Both works attempt a tasteful evocation of patriotic sentiment—a difficult endeavor, especially in today’s world when reactions to such efforts can vary widely, from jaded cynicism, to begrudging acknowledgment, to sincere pride and nobility, depending on one’s temperamental susceptibility as well as one’s political feelings. I have always found Sandburg’s presentation of Lincoln’s words to be quite sensitive and, indeed, inspiring. And, despite a general distaste for pieces that include narration, I find Copland’s music so ideally suited to its subject and so effectively constructed around the spoken portions that I never fail to admire it when I encounter it during the normal course of things; and my reaction seems to be echoed by most people, judging from the reception it is usually accorded. A Lincoln Portrait differs significantly from Schwantner’s piece in its use of folk melodies as thematic source material, giving it a more overtly national flavor than the more recent work displays. On this disc, incidentally, Copland’s piece is given a performance of breadth and richness, read ably by William Warfield. I would recommend this as a good choice for anyone seeking a new recording of the piece.

From the standpoint of a general concert audience hearing it for the first time, New Morning for the World achieves much the same sort of inspired nobility—indeed, I suspect many will be quite bowled over by it. Here, more than in any of his previous works known to me, Schwantner embraces the symphony orchestra’s capacity for richly romantic expression, thereby enhancing the almost hypnotic intensity of King’s words. The work builds to a climax of great emotional power, which some listeners will liken to a corresponding point in Panufnik’s Sinfonia Sacra. Yet, for the reasons described earlier, repeated listening, while not destroying my enjoyment of the work, has made me more aware of its rather obvious weaknesses and over-calculated effects. It is somewhat like weeping at a sentimental melo­drama, while being fully conscious of the devices employed to induce such a visceral response. New Morning for the World  is too long by a good one-third, padded by superfluous repetition, and too dependent on increases in orchestral texture and dynamic level as means of heightening its emotional impact.

Former baseball star Willie Stargell, who has been the sole narrator of Schwantner s work since its premiere, is given top billing on the disc. The contrivance of this gesture is mitigated by the fact that Stargell serves as an excellent speaker. Although ostensibly in­experienced in such a role, he captures the almost incantorial rhythms of King’s prose with remarkable sensitivity. The orchestra performs superbly, as it generally does on its record­ings. The sound quality is also up to Eastman/Mercury’s usual high standards, although it is cut at a very low decibel level, so that a high gain setting is necessary.

George Walker’s eight-minute Eastman Overture is an uncomfortable attempt to create a breezy, concise piece in an essentially Berg-like, expressionistic vein. The Overture shows a degree of competence, but its incompatible elements prove unwieldy. Whether one likes the piece or not, however, it certainly deserves more commentary than the one sentence it is granted on the liner. In keeping with the informal, “everyman” sort of concept behind this disc, virtually no program notes are included. What little there are concentrate on Stargell’s cliché-ridden account of the experience of performing with an orchestra (“… it’s a BIG jump from the ballpark to Carnegie Hall!” ). I join my colleagues in protesting the decline in quality and quantity of program notes supplied by the major record companies. This is an insult to the consumer that should be recognized as such.

RUBBRA: Symphonies: No. 5; No. 10. Improvisations on Virginal Pieces by Giles Farnaby. A Tribute. BLISS: Checkmate: Five Dances.

RUBBRA: Symphonies: No. 5; No. 10. Improvisations on Virginal Pieces by Giles Farnaby. A Tribute.  BLISS: Checkmate: Five Dances. Melbourne Symphony Orchestra (Symphony No. 5);West Australian Symphony Orchestra (Bliss); Bournemouth Sinfonietta conducted by Hans-Hubert Schonzeler. MUSICAL HERITAGE SOCIETY MHS-827285Y (two discs), produced by David HArvey and Brian Couzens.

Edmund Rubbra died earlier this year, at the age of 85, one of the finest of those to carry on the true symphonic tradition into our time. Although record companies like Chandos and Lyrita have begun to make Rubbra’s contribution known to the “serious record collector,” the mainstream music world knows virtually nothing of his magnificent legacy, partly because major conductors, whose ignorance defines the limits of what is performed by the more visible orchestras, are largely unaware of his existence. This is especially regrettable because Rubbra is the sort of 20th-century composer whom the mainstream music world is presumably looking for: that is, a composer with a unique personal vision, capable of illuminating and enriching human experience, while using a language that is accessible enough not to obscure his meaning from the general listener. There is no great shortage of such composers, but Rubbra is one of the most rewarding, with 11 symphonies that document nearly half a century in the evolution of a deeply sincere and compassionate spiritual/philosophical perspective. Devoid of cheap tricks or meretricious effects, Rubbra’s music is consistently noble and lofty, yet never preten­tious (except to those for whom simply to strive toward a major metaphysical statement is a pretense). For these reasons, his music has often been compared with Bruckner’s, although I find that Rubbra offers an experience of broader dimensions.

As a (presumably unintentional) memorial, Musical Heritage Society is reissuing as a set two Chandos releases devoted largely to the music of Rubbra (Chandos ABR-1018, reviewed in Fanfare 6:6, pp. 158-59; Chandos CBR-1023/CHAN-8378, reviewed in Fanfare 8:3, pp. 233-34). The relatively large membership of the Musical Heritage Society is fortunate in hav­ing this music made so inexpensively and so readily available to them—especially because one of the works—the Symphony No. 5—is an ideal introduction to the Rubbra symphonies.

Composed in 1948, the Fifth represents something of a departure from Rubbra’s previous symphonies in its adherence to more conventional norms, its balanced contrasts of mood, and its more moderate emotional cast in particular. While perhaps not Rubbra’s most profound work, it is by no means shallow; but it does provide an especially accessible initiation to the procedures through which his symphonic structures are built: the slow, largely polyphonic un­folding of material whose identity is maintained through intervallic unity. Abrupt shifts in mood and sharp contrasts are avoided in favor of the gradual accumulation of energy and com­plexity. While the second and fourth movements approach an uncharacteristic levity that is less to my taste (which is admittedly peculiar in its preference for consistency of mood), the first and third movements reveal moments of an almost Mahlerian elegiac lyricism that haunt the listener long after the work is done.

The Symphony No. 10, composed in 1974, represents considerable further development, though it remains unmistakably the product of the same sensibility. It is a relatively brief (17 minutes) symphony in one movement, fully integrated by an overall consistency of vision and tone. It is more abstract and less overtly melodic than the Fifth, but direct and sincere at all times. One of the marvels of Rubbra’s mature work is its open-endedness, the sense of freedom and spontaneity with which it appears to unfold, but which never seems aimless or episodic thanks to the motivic discipline and logic that prevails. Listening to Rubbra’s music, one can­not fail to feel close to the spirits of Roman Catholicism and Buddhism that seemed to exert a strong influence on the content and tone of his work. His symphonies are reflections on the ebb and flow of life and the cosmos, delivered by a benign but somewhat removed observer—un­hurried without being prolix, improvisatory without being digressive. These contemplations may be tender or tempestuous, but they are always gracefully articulated. Their somber tone and lofty perspective are likely to suggest Sibelius, especially in the Tenth Symphony, where the similarity is quite strong. But Rubbra achieves a linear coherence that often eluded his Finnish predecessor.
In addition to these two symphonies, a couple of less important works are also included in the set. A Tribute was composed in 1942, in honor of the 70th birthday of Vaughan Williams. Similar in style to Rubbra’s contemporaneous symphonic movements, it consists of a solemn, long-breathed introduction, followed by a brief, rather stiff-edged quasi-scherzo.

Improvisations on Virginal Pieces by Giles Farnaby is a diverting suite constructed in 1938, along the lines of Respighi’s Ancient Airs and Dances—light and refreshing in tone, but somewhat subdued in coloration, befitting the temperament of the composer-arranger.

In this context the suite from Sir Arthur Bliss’s earliest ballet, Checkmate (1937), seems a little out of place. The music is bright, cinematic, and colorful in its post-Elgarian, cosmopolitan, English urbanity, but its substance is quite trivial.

Conductor Hans-Hubert Schönzeler is known as a Bruckner specialist, so his attraction to Rubbra is not surprising. While his interest in the music is welcome, his performances tend to be a little stiff and cold. More flexibility, or perhaps a more polished orchestra, might help.

Chandos recordings are justly praised for their fine sound quality, which is reflected in this reissue. But Chandos is also known for its impeccable surfaces—among the best in the world—and Musical Heritage Society is not, unfortunately. This set is recommended, then, to those who want an inexpensive introduction to the music of Rubbra and don’t mind the risk of noisy surfaces. Others are urged to locate the still-quite-available Chandos originals, premium-priced, but premium-quality.

REICH: Music for Eighteen Musicians

REICH: Music for Eighteen Musicians. Steve Reich and Musicians. ECM-1-1129, produced by Rudolph Werner

Of the various reactions against the hyper-cerebral academic serialism that monopolized the modern music scene during the 1950’s and 60’s, one of the strangest and most highly publicized of the past few years has been the sort of ostinato-music practiced by, most notably, Philip Glass and Steve Reich (b. 1936). For those who have yet to experience this new genre, these composers have devised a sort of music based on the static reiteration of small, simple motivic units, which are then subjected to barely perceptible alterations that change the nature of the sound over a long period of time without abrupt transitions or contrasts of any kind. In Reich’s music, gently syncopated figures usually interact with a constant rhythmic pulsation of a rather rapid rate, adding to the mesmerizing quality of the music while giving a greater semblance of activity. Aside from rhythmic and textural aspects, the basic parameters of the music are simple: melodies are usually pentatonic, harmony rarely exceeds the seventh-chord in degree of dissonance, and tonality is static over long periods of time. The overall effect resembles, in a variety of different ways, African music, Javanese gamelan music, as well as the music of Lou Harrison, Carl Orff, and Harry Partch.

Music for Eighteen Musicians, completed in 1976 and first performed in that year, appears to be Reich’s most recent major work. I had the opportunity to attend a live performance of the piece on the same day that I received this record for review. Reich and his troop of musicians have achieved a rather impressive cult following, and every seat of Columbia University’s Wollman Auditorium was taken, with the overflow crowd filling  every available space on the floor. The players, among whom is Reich himself, appear in informal attire, and perform with no visible ostentation whatsoever. Despite the fact that some might detect in the music an evocation of psychedelia—what others might describe as a hypnotic or transcendental feeling—Reich vigorously denies that he has any such intentions; rather he insists that his music is meant to be apprehended by clear, perceptive minds; that, like the music of the classical masters, it is susceptible to appreciation on levels ranging from the casual to the professionally analytical, but that it presumes no mystical or mind-altering preparations or propensities. Still, I would venture a supposition that most listeners whose musical expectations have been conditioned by the rate of stimulus transformation afforded by the western symphonic tradition will find themselves impatient with the apparently static unfolding of Reich’s music, and that those listeners with the greatest proclivity for meditative or altered states of consciousness are likely to be those most favorably impressed by what Reich has to offer. Not the least of the attrac­tions of this music, incidentally, is the achievement of the performers, who are able to sustain these ostinatos over long periods of time without faltering—a feat that must demand extraordinary discipline. I might add that the crowd at Columbia rewarded Reich and his ensemble with an enthusiastic standing ovation.

I find Music for Eighteen Musicians to be the most satisfying and fascinating of Reich’s pieces that I have yet heard. Just under an hour in duration, it is scored for violin, cello, two clarinets doubling bass clarinet, four women’s voices, four pianos, three marimbas, two xylophones, and metallophone. The work is based on a succession of eleven chords, deliberately introduced at the outset. Each chord is then used as a prolonged cantus firmusover which a brief mini-composition is generated. The many sections that comprise the work are connected to one another, and a pulsating ostinato continues throughout. Furthermore, as section leads into section, several elements from one are held constant through the next, so that the progression is very gradual, and the continuity is never broken. The diversity of instrumental color in this particular work, and the concentration of musical substance, compared with other works of this genre, are undeniably compelling. There is a luxuriant yet strangely impersonal quality to this music, as wave-like rushes of delicate sound-crystals ebb and flow in throbbing pulsation. In its indulgence in depersonalized sensation there is something characteristically 1970’s.

Whether one is sympathetic to this sort of thing or not, few listeners would find any of these sounds objectionable in themselves. Yet the virtual absence of climax or contrast, and the extremely slow unfolding make great demands on the listener’s attention, and I for one find myself growing rather impatient by the time the piece is half over. This is, however, not to deny the inherent interest at any particular point or the originality of the sounds themselves and of the concept behind this approach to formal articulation.

This disc is a perfect illustration of the superior richness both of sonority and of detail offered by the recording medium. The intricacies of the music come alive with incredible clarity and depth, and the performances are truly inhuman in their precision. The surfaces are equally fine.