Braxton: Compositions No. 1, 5, 10, 16, 30, 31, 32, 33 & 139

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COMPOSERS: Braxton
LABELS: Hat Hut
WORKS: Compositions No. 1, 5, 10, 16, 30, 31, 32, 33 & 139
PERFORMER: Hildegard Kleeb (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: ART CD 4-61941/4 (distr. Harmonia Mundi)
Though he’s best-known as a jazzman, Anthony Braxton has long been a prolific composer too, with operas, string quartets and orchestral works to his credit. This four-CD set comprises his notated music for solo pianist, a music inspired by the unlikely trio of Schoenberg, Stockhausen and Fats Waller. The results are decidedly atonal, though suffused with a melodic quality that sounds at times as if Braxton were trying to refigure Romanticism into a post-serial sound-world. Listen, for example, to Composition 32, like a giant bell tolling underwater, to the private, inconsolable grief of Composition 33 or the sunlit reverie of Composition 139. This is challenging, rewarding music, played here with exceptional power and delicacy by Hildegard Kleeb. Graham Lock

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