Adapting to the Times
The music of Charles Wuorinen is well known for its formidable intellectual rigor, its daunting notational complexity, and the extraordinary virtuosity required of its performers. It is also noted as a seminal contribution to the repertoire and theory of American Serialism, a catch-all term describing compositional techniques developed by mid-century American composers (especially Milton Babbitt) from the 12-tone method of Arnold Schoenberg. Just the same, Wuorinen is, in many ways, a traditionalist, for whom music still possesses certain inalienable truths and standards. Seeking to be evolutionary rather than revolutionary, Wuorinen has never sought to denigrate, ignore, or replace music of the past. Nor has he ever indulged cynically in pandering, disposable entertainment music designed for mass consumption. Instead, his compositions aspire to an idealistic potential future. The selections on this compact disc are excerpted from nearly 35 years of prolific compositional activity, and although each work is a unique example of musical ideas and compositional technique, all have in common expert craftsmanship, an engaging rhetoric, and a satisfying sense of completeness. Above all, these works possess an exuberant musicality, a striking freshness and vigor, and an intelligence that invites and rewards attentive, active listening.