Breaking the Rules with Berio, Brittelle, Burhans and More

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This week on the New Canon, we look at the career of Luciano Berio as seen through the prism of his complete piano works. Hard to believe it, but these six pieces, as played by Francesco Tristano on our Album of the Week, have an extraordinary knack of summing up the composer's nearly eight decades of listening to and making music. 

Berio was one of those composers (like Tristano himself, who freely moves between club music and Bach) who reminds me of that Katherine Hepburn aphorism: "If you obey all the rules, you miss all the fun." While Berio professed to being a serialist, he also disregarded a lot of the conventions of the musical form and it made his music all the more beguiling and spellbinding for it.

We hear that on a few other new releases featured this week, including a revisit of Hilary Hahn and Hauschka's wholly-improvised album Silfra, plus the prelude to William Brittelle's newest, chamber-eque, opus Loving the Chambered Nautilus, a new piece by Caleb Burhans for trombone and piano recorded for Albany Records, and works by composer-performers Erdem Helvacioglu on Innova and Garth Knox on ECM.