Food, people, music: part of what fascinates is variousness. Take the world of contemporary classical music: it’s inhabited not only by Elliott Carter’s thorny dissonance (11/19/09, 12/12/09), but also by this composer’s spectral elegance.
Tristan Murail (1947-), “Le Lac pour ensemble” (2001)/Argento Chamber Ensemble
Composers who have taken inspiration from spectralist methods . . . aren’t tune-happy populists by any means. But they have brought a new sensuousness to European music. In place of the spastic gesturing that was de rigueur during the Cold War era, their work often unfolds in meditative, deep-breathing lines. While spectralist music would hardly serve as the soundtrack to a yoga session, it does have the capacity to generate a state of eerie calm. In a way, it is the European counterpart to American minimalism, which, back in the nineteen-sixties, returned emphatically to musical ABCs.—Alex Ross