Anthony Braxton – Composition for Four Orchestras

Composition for Four Orchestras

Anthony BraxtonComposition for Four Orchestras Arista A3L-8900 (1978)

The most notorious — some would say infamous — release from Anthony Braxton’s tenure on Arista Records.  It is a composition rooted in Arnold Schönberg and the serialists, with a multi-orchestra form similar to Karlheinz Stockhausen‘s works like Gruppen & Carré.  Brief passages even resemble the minimalism of Morton Feldman and Steve Reich.  This was recorded superbly, and the musicians perform well considering they were given only three hours to rehearse. It’s not terribly exciting though.  There is always a kind of nagging issue with grandiose works like this that the composer is really just trying to garner social prestige by demonstrating an ability to summon resources (four orchestras are fairly expensive and capital-intensive to assemble) rather than to make any particular musical statement….listeners should decide that for themselves on this one.