The American composer Christian Wolff (b. 1934) is the last living representative of the New York School (Rauschenberg, Rothko, etc.). Wolff was not even an adult when he studied with Grete Sultan and John Cage. Wolff’s music was much more politically motivated than that of Feldman and Cage, which is evident on this new WERGO album by Trio Accanto. The album features first recordings made in close collaboration with Wolff in the studios of Deutschlandfunk Cologne/Germany.
Wolff's great “Trio IX – Accanto” (2017) is a testament to his long-standing friendship with the musicians. Peculiarly serene and unobtrusively narrative, the piece features many reminiscences and hidden quotations from music by J. S. Bach to union songs. There are also tributes to Wolff's own “Exercises”, whose more recent numbers can be heard on the album as well.
These “Exercises” sound lucid and atmospheric, yet complex. Each player has to decide for himself/herself on the course of the musical thoughts and spontaneously put them together in the group as an exercise. Collective agreement for individual positions as a musical and social task. This music by Wolff “still sings a longer modernism”, writes Seth Brodsky. “You can hear the historical horizon in it, not as some grandiose prophecy, but like an outline full of white space. The music is interested in the grace of presentness, of being-here, but it doesn’t lack desire.”
Trio IX – Accanto for tenor saxophone, piano and percussion
Exercises 29 & 30 for two or more players, instrumentation free
Exercises 31 & 32 open instrumentation (32 may be a percussion solo)
Exercises 37 & 38 for two or more players, any instruments