MILLENNIAL MASTERS, VOL. 2 On Ablaze

Published: March 30, 2014

Originally Published By: Fanfare Magazine

Ablaze Records, a joint Australian/American concern, has stated that they are “committed to the talent of tomorrow and to distributing this [music] as widely as possible.” To that end they select pieces for inclusion on several partially subsidized releases: Millennial Masters focuses on chamber music from mostly younger practitioners and is altogether edgier, noisier, and occasionally confrontational.

Russian-born, American resident Vera Ivanova’s Quiet Light (2009) is a case in point; though described by the composer as an attempt to musically illustrate the shafts of light as they illuminate the interior of a Russian Orthodox church, the solo violin’s shifting perspective of harsh, grating tones, string harmonics, and shards of melody suggests these evocative light beams are more like razor-sharp lasers. The flute component of Zachariah Zubow’s all-too-brief Nebulae (2010) likewise makes use of extended, unconventional techniques, in conjunction with an eight-channel tape of mysterious, imaginative, Ligeti-like (think 2001: A Space Odyssey ) effects. Electronics are the focal point in Australian composer Daniel Blinkhorn’s two concise works; the sampled environmental materials of Relatively Loud Tones (n.d.) offer an ambiguous story in voices and textures, while Place/Space Threnody (n.d.) manipulates instrumental sounds into an abstract collage of drones and clatter. And jolting electronics interrupt the atonal brass quintet episodes in Arthur Gottschalk’s Heavy Metal  but coalesce into a convincing whole.

Performances throughout are more than adequate to the varied tasks at hand. It’s hard to imagine a contemporary music fan who would appreciate everything here equally, but there’s a good chance something could pique one’s interest.

– Art Lange

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