Austrian Music Box12: Classic/Contemporary

Conceptual definitions and its social connotations determine the music market by genre labels for CD sales, concert promoters and the media. Although there have been many years of resistance to concepts such as “serious” and “easy listening music”, the pigeon holes keep persevering in our minds, music racks and program booklets. However the preservation of this little beloved and yet resistant traditional division, with its numerous sub-categories, which also entails the assessment to the current valid criteria, is questionable and becomes quite evident in the selection of the Austrian Music Box 12  “Classical / Contemporary Music”. For the selection of this CD, the musicologist and music journalist Daniel Ender combines various approaches that make genre boundaries sometimes appear to be obsolete.

One of the composers who can not be missed on a CD like this is Friedrich Cerha, who celebrated his 85th birthday last year and yet continues to enrich the musical life with new compositions. His half-hour piece “Instants” on the CD represents his vast variety of skills and experiences and is surrounded by a number of  works by younger composers who often integrate the traditional music, only in order to process it into a unique musical language. For example, Maja Osojnik,  a singer, flutist and composer, who ventures in the frontier areas of contemporary music and is represented with slowly swelling orchestral clusters referring to sound scapes of the 1960s; or Klaus Ager, referring to the Second Viennese School and its consequences. Manuela Kerer lets heterogeneous elements of different genres collide and merge in an occasionally humorous and whimsical way. The title of “Composite Sketch” by Thomas Amann points with its sudden changes of state to the smooth transition between sudden ideas and the precise elaboration that can often be found in contemporary music. As usual in an extremely concise way, Joanna Wozny takes us with “Vom Verschwinden einer Landschaft” from tense sonic progressions to quiet and rich tone colored worlds.

Besides the composers, there are also the performers who bring the works to sound. For example, the young zither player Martin Mallaun who liberated the traditional-prone instrument of dusty alpine associations and revived it with new life by exploring vast soundscapes  – the same can be said for the composition “Göttertisch, interpreted by the reknowned improviser and trumpeter Franz Hautzinger. Or vice versa, the ensemble Franui or the Ensemble Amarcord Wien together with soprano Elisabeth Kulman, who bring a breath of fresh air with their interpretation of Mahler’s music. Not to forget the ORF Radio Symphony Orchestra Vienna, which was fortunately been rescued with enormous efforts from its abolition. Indeed, it would have been fatal to lose such a qualitatively high body of music  and such a rare institution that represents various music eras and brings numerous large-scale compositions to the public and will hopefully continue to do in the next decades.
Doris Weberberger
(translated from German)

Track List:

  •     Gustav Mahler: Wo die schönen Trompeten blasen (from: Des Knaben Wunderhorn), Performers: Franui
  •     Franz Hautzinger: Göttertisch (from: kleine Göttermusik), Performer: Martin Mallaun
  •     Manuela Kerer: AURIMI, Performers: Winkraft-Kapelle für Neue Musik und Jugenblasorchester
  •     Maja Osojnik: Little Dream Machine, Performers: ORF Radio Symphony Orchestra Vienna, Gottfried Rabl
  •     Friedrich Cerha: Instants for orchestra I & II, Performers: WDR Symphony Orchestra Cologne, Peter Rundel
  •     Thomas Amann: Composite Sketch, Performers: ORF Radio Symphony Orchestra Vienna, Gottfried Rabl
  •     Joanna Wozny: Vom Verschwinden einer Landschaft II, Performers: Sophie Schafleitner, Dimitrios Polisoidis, Andreas Lindenbaum, Janna Polyzoides
  •     Klaus Ager: Geo Mah Ramson, Performers: ORF Radio Symphony Orchestra Vienna, Klaus Ager
  •     Gustav Mahler: Wer hat dies Liedlein erdacht, Performers: Elisabeth Kulman & Amarcord Wien