this is (at least in the northern hemisphere) a time of year which provokes much reflection in many of those who reflect; but i'll keep all that to myself for the time being.
it's also a time of year when money gets spent and people buy things, in countries where the promise of happiness is based on ownership. so, anyway, leo had a sale (still on i think) and i bought some things.
actually my first raid on the leo's sale yielded composition 94 for three instrumentalists, a delightful unearthed gem which will probably get written about at some point. but i later found myself ordering all three double volumes of the yoshi's ninetets (gtm, '97) and throwing in composition n.96 while i was at it. these arrived, with considerable felicitousness, on xmas eve... but it's not until tonight that i got an opportunity to do more than fetishise the objects themselves. only one hour of listening time, it had to be comp. 96 really.
now, the maestro doesn't play on this smallish (37-pc) orchestra recording, but 96 (dedicated to the recently-deceased karlheinz stockhausen) is such a major landmark/reference point in the collage structures of the 80s and early 90s that it has to be reckoned with, and this is the recording we have of it... and a very interesting piece it is too. it did not get (anything like) my full attention - at this stage i just want to start listening to it, get it into my system so that elements from it will ring bells when i hear them quoted later; over time i may hope to acquire a detailed understanding of the piece itself, but i'm not worrying too much about that for now.
the first section was quite strange and actually did focus my full attention onto the music at times, because it was uncannily similar in some ways to some of zappa's orchestral writing, or at least it seemed so to me; big clashes of sound thrown up against each other, lots of tension and anxiety, very "difficult" or dissonant and complex tonalities... ok, i'm sure i could be describing any number of modern composers there; it just reminded me of zappa, which i was not really expecting (although, come to think of it... hmmm, see comments).
however, the way the piece evolves is really entirely different from anything i have heard fz do.
if any readers want to fill me in on some details wrt stockhausen, please do - for the moment i don't have much to go on, but that being the case it's surprising how closely b's homage mirrors one account i have read, that of clarinettist anthony pay (in bailey, improvisation) who worked with stockhausen as part of the london sinfonietta: i took away (besides the memory of the taboo-breaking trumpet-player) an impression of a composer concerned to chart the course of the universe, however that sounds in the telling, (among other ways) by interspersing episodes of order and chaos, or stasis and movement... and that's very much how 96 comes across during this first airing. when the music settles it stays still for some time, and sounds as if it could do so forever; but growth emerges from stasis and the transitions back to dissonance and clash do not seem forced, but organic... this is a tantalising piece and i want to go back to it before i try and say anything more about it.
the ninetets... well now, in more ways than one these are leading up to the iridium box: six performances on three nights, six (six!) reedmen, nine players subdivided into three trio sections, each with its own leader... important recent collaborators... essential! i'm delighted to have these, but have not yet had time to listen to any of them and for the moment i'm content to keep anticipating.
reading steve day's listening diary in the notes gave me an awkward twinge or two, i must confess... hey, you mean some people get paid for doing this? ;-)