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musica viva Festival
Munich 2008

Czernowin: Pilgerfahrten
Dillon, J: La Navette
Furrer: Konzert für Klavier und Orchester
Hartmann, K: Symphonie 'L'Oeuvre'
Hölszky: Countdown
Lim: Ochred String
Pintscher: Hérodiade-Fragmente
Reimann, A: Cantus
Saariaho: Vent Nocturne
Saunders, R: Blue and Gray
Scelsi: Uaxuctum (1966) for 7 percussionists, timpanist, chorus and orchestra
Stockhausen: Mixtur 2003 for 5 orchestra groups, 4 sine-wave generator players, 4 sound mixers, with 4 ring modulators and sound projectionist
Traditional music from Egypt and Persia
Xenakis: Antikhthon

Various orchestras and chamber groups

Neos Classics - NEOS10926 (SACD - 6 discs)

A number of highly regarded orchestras, choirs and ensembles gathered in Munich for the very first Musica Viva Festival. This selection of recordings demonstrates a wide range of New Music. Two "extreme" British composers were represented, Dillon and Saunders. Jörg Widmann (recently Composer In Residence at Wigmore Hall) is clarinet soloist in Reimann’s Cantus as well as having his own delectable Armonica for accordion and glass harmonica included; British pianist Nicolas Hodges is soloist in Beat Furrer's rebarbative piano concerto, in a disc featuring four formidable women composers.

Newest examples are sensibly leavened with some neglected "classics" such as Hartmann's 'L'Oeuvre' Symphony (1938) in its first complete performance. Vol 1 is devoted to two renderings of Stockhausen's Mixtur (2003), "the beginning of live-electronic orchestral music", and a new realisation of Scelsi's Uaxuctum, highlighted in the above abbreviated alphabetical listing; see full details.

The music ranges widely, from Hartmann's quasi-romantic Symphony 'L'Oeuvre' Symphony (1938) in its first complete performance, to cutting edge European modernism; and finding room for Sufi songs and Persian drumming; something for everyone but nothing for everybody!

Presentation is economical, six discs in slip cases boxed with a 50-page multilingual booklet. I did not find most of the short descriptions of each work generally helpful. An important conspectus from cutting-edge Germany; well worth exploring, though not cheap...

It is a pity that the discs are not offered separately; at c. £63 this important window onto the continental contemporary music scene will mostly appeal only to specialist collectors; it should however be taken by all the libraries of academies/colleges with contemporary music departments.

Peter Grahame Woolf

See also; http://www.musicweb-international.com/SandH/2002/Jan02/Cutting_Edge.htm