Stories » Gernot Wolfgang's Groove-Oriented Chamber Music is treated subtly and artfully on Vienna and the West / textura

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Gernot Wolfgang's Groove-Oriented Chamber Music is treated subtly and artfully on Vienna and the West / textura

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Not for the first time, the subtitle "Groove-Oriented Chamber Music" appears on the cover of a Gernot Wolfgang release, which in the most regrettable imagining would amount to some vulgar orchestral-techno mashup. Vienna and the West thankfully commits no such offence, and the term itself functions more as a hook to grab the listener's attention. The gesture reflects the Austrian-born, LA-based composer's desire to integrate rhythms from jazz, rock'n'roll, pop, world music, and electronica into his material, yet while groove-related elements are present on this fourth chamber music volume, they're treated subtly and artfully. Wolfgang's preceding release, 2016's Passing Through, was nominated for a Grammy Award in the ‘Best Classical Compendium' category, and it wouldn't be hard to imagine the new one being recognized in similar manner.

If anything, the subtitle could be deemed misleading, considering that rhythm isn't the aspect of Wolfgang's music that on this release dominates: melody, polyphony, counterpoint, and harmony are accentuated as much if not more in the six pieces performed. The album cover's juxtaposition of Vienna and the American West is, on the other hand, wholly apt, given that the recording likewise juxtaposes settings that suggest a Viennese connection (embodied in Wolfgang's recent interest in the harmonic advances made by Second Viennese School figures Schoenberg, Berg, and Webern) and a pronouncedly American influence stemming from the composer's time in Los Angeles, his home for more than two decades. Fittingly, Vienna and the West was recorded in May 2018 in LA, and the musicians who perform its material are orchestra players and first-call studio pros from the area.

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