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Classical Reviews - Miscellaneous Collections

Written by Radu A. Lelutiu
Friday, 04 May 2012

Ablaze Records is a fairly new label that is dedicated to, among other things, promoting the works of living composers. For its Millennial Masters series, the label invites interested composers to submit their works in digital format for review by a panel of various experts, including audio engineers, and the winners' works are then included on a commercial recording. The album for consideration here is the second volume issued in the Millennial Masters series (a third volume will be forthcoming), and includes nine works penned in recent years by eight young composers from around the globe.

Even though it contains unrelated works, there is a natural flow to this album as a whole that I can't quite explain. Perhaps much of it has to do with the fact that many of these works reveal—explicitly or implicitly—a fascination with cosmic phenomena, transformation, and the unknown. While there are most definitely no weak links here, some works are, at least to my ears, more affecting, memorable, or inventive than others. Aurora (by Hong Kong-based composer Joyce Wai-chung Tang), Nebulae (by American composer Zachariah Zubow), Relatively Loud Tones (by Australian composer Daniel Blinkhorn), The Outer Space (by Polish-American composer Lucas Lechowski), Heavy Metal (by American composer Arthur Gottschalk), and Yûgen III (by Chinese-American composer Stephen Yip) fall in this category. All in all, this album paints a fascinating fresco of the wealth of ideas, media, and compositional techniques that are used to write contemporary music.

Although it was recorded in nine separate recording sessions, the sound quality of this album is first-class, as are the musicians and ensembles featured here.

Recommended for those with an interest in contemporary and experimental music.

—Radu A. Lelutiu