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The Oak of the Golden Dreams

4.0 out of 5 stars 1 customer review

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Audio CD, August 24, 1999
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Richard Maxfield is a composer whose impact and reputation relative to his small output is enormous. Finally we are able to hear a full disc of his coupled with works by Harold Budd on this rerelease of a pair of out-of-print recordings originally released on the Advance Recordings label. Fans of Harold Budd's later quiet electronic works will be amazed to hear staunch minimalist works dating from the late '60s and early '70s; the seed of the later work can be found here as can the overriding tonality and sensualism that Budd is best known for. The breadth and vision of Maxfield's four cuts is striking. Composed between 1960 and 1963, Maxfield adapts no particular style, instead skittering about from electronics to tape loops. The disc's centerpiece is his 1961 "Piano Concert for David Tudor," a 12-minute exploration of a wired-up piano. Tiddlywinks pluck amplified strings and gyroscopes whir inside the instrument, releasing an array of sounds you never thought a piano was capable of creating. "Amazing Grace," from 1960, predates James Tenney's early plunderphonic composition, "Collage #1 (Blue Suede)" by a year. It's often been referred to as a seminal plunderphonic work; we're fortunate enough to be able to hear it finally. --Kenneth Goldsmith
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Product Details

  • Conductor: n/a
  • Composer: Richard Maxfield, Harold Budd
  • Audio CD (August 24, 1999)
  • SPARS Code: DDD
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: New World Records
  • ASIN: B00000K3LC
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #224,409 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Format: Audio CD
Pairing the music of Richard Maxfield and Harold Budd on one CD may seem a bit unusual, but it works.
Maxfield's music runs the gamut of experimental techniques with an Ives and Cage-like American spirit of adventure. He truly threw out the rule book and devised his own language of organized sound. These pieces sound very fresh and cutting edge even today... it's hard to believe they were composed in the early 60s. You may not listen to Maxfield's music often, but you'll be glad you had the experience.
While Maxfield's suicide was a tragic end to a promising creative career, Harold Budd went on to achieve relative fame in today's ambient/"New Age" movement. Many may not know he was once an avant-garde composer of "difficult" music. The pieces on this CD are some of his earliest recorded works, written shortly after abandoning atonality in favor of "shamelessly beautiful" consonance and simplicity. "Oak of the Golden Dreams" is a Terry Riley-esque piece for synthesizer, while "Coeur D'Orr" combines organ-like drones with live saxophone improvisation, a precursor to "Bismillahi 'Rrahman 'Rrahim" from "The Pavilion of Dreams".
This CD is a welcome addition to any adventurous music collection, thankfully resurrecting long out-of-print recordings of two unique American composers. (And the liner notes are excellent!)
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