Friday, June 25, 2010

George Crumb - Vox Balaenae

George Crumb is an American avant-garde composer, born in 1929. His music is among some of the most unique and not retarded avant-garde classical music I've heard. It's extremely atmospheric - and interactive. I'm sure the performers had fun playing these pieces. The music of George Crumb is more difficult to play and decipher than it is to listen to, I think. The instrumentation is a tiny bit complex - many outside tools and instruments aside from the basic piano and string and wood instruments are used in these pieces to create Crumb's desired effect. For example, in Vox Balaenae, Crumb has instructed the piano performer, at certain parts, to pluck at certain strings in the piano while the lid is open, to place a chain on top of the strings while playing so as to create a metallic effect as the hammers hit the strings, as well as to play a key repeatedly while moving the flat head of a chisel up and down a string so as to increase and decrease the pitch of the key, making it sound much like a synthesizer. There are many sounds on this album that I had no idea these basic instruments could make, and the range of effects is purely magical.

This might be one of my new favorite classical albums for sure, (though I am enjoying Camille's 3rd Symphony quite a lot). It is full of life and yet so mystic you feel as though you are passing through a small wooden door into a new, brighter world. Just listen and let yourself be taken away, perhaps for a moment - perhaps for a lifetime, by George Crumb.

2006; 24 tracks


1-11. Eleven Echoes Of Autumn (Echos 1) for violin, alto flute, clarinet and piano.
12-15. Four Nocturnes (Night Music II) for violin and piano.
16-23. Vox Balaenae (Voice of the Whales) for electric flute, cello and amplified piano.
24. Dream Sequence (Images II) for violin, piano, percussion and glass harmonica.

Performed by the Ensemble Für Neue Musik Zürich.

Vast, lonely, timeless...


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