This collection, the third in a series from Miso Records in Portugal, collates the prizewinners of the Música Viva Competition from 2004 to 2006. The competition has assumed increasing importance on the international circuit, with 2006 being the seventh year it has been held. Entry to the competition is limited to composers under the age of 35. The last few years has attracted an average of 120 applicants from a range of nationalities.
Jury membership for the competition changes each year. Christian Clozier, Trevor Wishart, and Miguel Azguime adjudicated in 2004. In 2005, Annette Vande Gorne, Marek Choloniewski, and Miguel Azguime covered the duties, and in 2006 judging was undertaken by François Bayle, Morton Subotnick, and Miguel Azguime.
The disc contains eight tracks: two works from 2004, and three from each of 2005 and 2006. Given the jury selection of winning works from a large number of entries each year, the sonic production quality is uniformly high. As a documentary of the competition's outcomes, and a reference point for others who may wish to emulate the standards required, the disc is a worthwhile addition to any library.
The disc also gives a clear sense of the aesthetic that was favored over the period of selection, which is remarkable for its cohesiveness in reflecting predominantly academic Anglo/French and sometimes German electroacoustic music styles. Partly this may be a result of the age limit imposed on composers, with younger composers reflecting the voice of their teachers; but perhaps it also reflects on the orientation and backgrounds of the adjudication panels.
Whatever the reason, given the range of approaches available to electronic music over the last decade, the aesthetic uniformity between many of the works on the disc, and the lack of stylistic progression over the period, is notable. Accordingly, although there are many works included that are strong within established electronic genres, the few works that are stylistically adventurousness and also engage dramatically clearly stand out.
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To aid the listening process, the composers have provided biographical and program notes for the disc. The resulting texts vary considerably in both length and quality, and a tighter writing brief would have added to overall presentation.
The first track from the 2004 competition is by Adrian Moore, titled Dreaming of the Dawn (14'04"). Largely drawing on the British electroacoustic music tradition, it is inspired by an Emily Dickinson short poem. Sonically, it uses heavily treated woodwind instrumental samples, which appear in the introduction. The work demonstrates an astute control of timing and timbre, and has a clear sense of development. The approach is delicate and sensitive, with a good range of gestures. Stylistically it is an odd mixture, including a comic moment with a chord often heard in horror films, and nods to popular music synthesis. Although a refreshing approach, the stylistic diversity may disturb some traditionalists. [End Page 91]
Mr. Moore's work is followed by Language (6'27") by Joshua Goldman, also from 2004. This is the shortest work on the disc, and the notes provided are scant. The composer indicates that it is a "stereophonic sound structure composed for seven vocalists (none of who are using their vocal cords)" (p. 5), and that the work should be played in complete darkness within the limits of avoiding damaging hearing and equipment. The approach is pointillistic and sparse, and owes much to the vocal works of Trevor Wishart. There is a keen sense of placement, although this is a little static in some sections. The humor is engaging, and in the context of the disc, the work differentiates due to its use of sound sources.
Three works are presented from 2005, and the next two tracks from that...