Thursday, January 21, 2010

John Zorn as Present-Day Composer

Late last year Tzadik Records released John Zorn's Femina, his chamber composition dedicated to women in the arts. It comes with an interesting booklet of photographs by Kiki Smith, but the music is the main attraction.

Femina utilizes a small chamber ensemble of piano, harp, percussion, violin, electronics, recitation and cello to create a multi-stylistic work that combines minimalist ostinatos, free sounding passages, modern contemporary classical writing and other elements as well. The combination itself is not extraordinary; it's the music itself.

Everything comes together on this recording to create a memorable experience. It has a Zen-like largess in the way it spans outward into music of spacious expanse. It is music that is truly open, in the best sense of the word. I find it exhilarating. Zorn has managed here to recapture the feeling of wonder and enchantment that sometimes has been lost from modern music.

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