Tibor Szemző: The Conscience | July 1993

Jan Danzig | record review | July 1993 | English


This recording by Hungarian composer Tibor Szemző succeeds on many leveIs. On a musical level, the performances by the variety of contemporary ensembles are hauntingly beautiti and the intonation of the spoken word elments provide a soothing and effective balance to the dream-like sounds of the strings and winds. Once the listener takes in the content of the narrative an entirely different listening experience begins to take place. The first piece „Skullbase Fracture”, offsets the music of a chamber ensemble and a gypsy band with some very strange tangential prose concerning a skullbase fracture. The second piece, „Optimistic Lecture” is incredibly thought provoking in its juxtaposition of a Jewish Prayer. „Our Father, our King! We pray thee, turn us not back empty from thy presence.” With an existential discussion of post-neo-avant-garde behaviour, „Man must realize that he is responsible for his own life and fate and must insist upon this responsibility beyond all limits.’ The music accompanying these two elements is equally powerful in its contradictory interplay. The third and final piece „The Sex appeal of Death”, an essay discussing how Western civilization has erased the death experience from its consciousness, is read by a young child. A heavy experience indeed. If the audio content of this CD isn’t thought provoking enough, there are complete liner notes on the three pieces as well as an analytical discussion providing one interpretation of this collection of compositions. The recording’s main power is its ability to both intrique and challenge the listener simultaneously.This is certainly not difficult music and is a must for those who like their art with a heavy dose of intellectual stimulation.

Jan Danzig

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