Friday, February 19, 2010

A Living Composers Anthology, Volume 15

I have not sampled any of the earlier volumes, but I have been listening to Erm Media's Masterworks of the New Era, Volume 15. It's a three CD set at a budget price, which is a good thing. There are generous time allocations per disk, so that you get a great deal of music to hear. There are 22 composers represented, people you may not have heard of, and again, that's generally a good thing for the music. Do you know Arnest? Flinn? Kapson? Probably not.

Robert Ian Winstin conducts, alternately, the Kiev Philharmonic and the Prague Radio Symphony in performances that seem quite good and the sound staging of the recordings is quite excellent.

So what of the music? Here I have reservations. There is such a wide net cast for works by living composers that the range of styles and relative weight of each piece can vary considerably. There are modernist sorts of pieces, there are postmodernist works, there are works one can only classify as conservative, and all that is fine if done well. Then there are those that seem a bit on the light side. Worst of all there are a one or two that sound to me like they could have been used as soundtracks for Doris Day's 1950's comedies or something similar. In short there are a few works here that to me spoil the effect of the others. Masterworks? Some definitely not.

On the other hand what is interesting here is in the majority. For the good price I suspect it's worth your while to invest in the volume if you have a need to discover some new voices in the music. A little judicious weeding out would have made this set even better. But for all that there are still quite a number of works that are well worth hearing.

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