DG is expanding its 20/21 series of contemporary music by reissuing some older material. Guitarist LEO BROUWER’s expert recordings from the early Seventies have immense variety, from composers as diverse as Cardew, Bussotti, Henze and Brouwer himself (471 589-2, £13.99).
The booklet notes unaccountably deal with only some of the ten works – most, I must warn the nervous, from the late-Sixties avant-garde.
But the avant-garde could have a sense of humour: in LIGETI’s Aventures and Nouvelles aventures (471 608-2, £13.99), the vocalists and instrumentalists seem trapped in a surreal domestic landscape; Mysteries of the Macabre finds trumpeter Håkan Hardenberger impersonating a demented police chief; and Gerd Zacher plays an organ blown at reduced pressure in Harmonies.
If this is all too much for you, GUBAIDULINA’s beautiful violin concerto Offertorium may be more to your taste (471 625-2, £13.99). It’s superbly played by its dedicatee Gidon Kremer, who also leads a chamber ensemble and soprano Christine Whittlesey in the tougher Hommage à TS Eliot.
More exotic is music for traditional Japanese instruments by TAKEMITSU (471 590-2, £13.99), mostly for biwa and shakuhachi, but including In an Autumn Garden for gagaku orchestra, a timeless meditation with extraordinary instrumental colours.
Finally, STEVE REICH and his first orchestral work, Variations for Wind, Strings and Keyboards, coupled with Music for Mallet Instruments, Voices and Organ and Six Pianos (471 591-2, £13.99).
With glowing performances from the San Francisco SO under Edo de Waart and Reich’s own group, it’s a good introduction to his music of the Seventies, and proves that there’s more to reissues than multiple versions of well-worn repertoire.