This attractively packaged and priced, nine-CD set provides an outside looking in glimpse of multi-reed performer/composer and occasional pianist, Anthony Braxton’s compositions for piano, spanning 1968-2000. In addition, two booklets contain interviews with Braxton amid a comprehensive breakdown and decoding of his song structures.
Belgian pianist Genevieve Foccroulle performs all of these works, comprising the totality of the program. Recorded in New York by Jon Rosenberg, this production casts a chamber-like vibe, although rigid classifications of Braxton’s music are difficult at best, which is a facet that adds to the overall fascination. In effect, Foccroulle conveys a myriad of stylizations that slant towards avant-garde and progressive-jazz along with shadings of contemporary classical overtones.
"Composition N.31," comprises all of disc three, which is a piece that might conjure up notions of an interweaving fusion of divergent musical architectures. Here, Foccroulle projects lucid imagery that intimates Braxton’s fertile mind at large, where art mimics life in all it’s resilient splendor. In fact, one entire booklet is devoted to Braxton’s multipart "Composition No. 171," that reads like a parody on a utopian type of Tri-State environment presented in text and Braxton’s geometric shapes and notations.
The pianist’s sound-sculpting comprises numerous points of reference, to include but not limited to contrapuntal voicings, capacious interludes, lush chord progressions and dissonant clusters. On "Comp. No. 32 (Version 2)," Foccroulle renders dark, lower register tone poems while using the piano pedals to impart a lingering state of flux, shaded with a sense of turmoil. Naturally, these notions are left up to individual interpretations. No doubt, I’m attempting to gain entry into Braxton’s thought-processes and neural network.
Check out "Comp. No.33," which is predominately about the subtly-penetrating sequence of mini-themes. Foccroulle pronounces a semblance of inquisition during "The Trip," which is crafted upon bending lines and abrupt shifts in meter. And she morphs space and time into a prismatic object, such as a painter jabbing at a canvas with his or her brush. In other areas of execution and sound, the pianist injects an air of unpredictability into the grand schema. Essentially, she sustains interest by mixing colorific textures and raising the anxiety level to communicate the human experience while Braxton most assuredly looms as her guiding light throughout this brilliantly realized project. (Limited edition: 500 copies).