I really wanted to like this disc. I like a lot of atonal music, and Boulez, Nono and other Darmstadt greats are a substantial part of my daily listening habits. Charles Wuorinen made himself a reputation in the early 1970s as the foremost American twelve-tone composer, and while his music no longer always sticks to that particular method of composition, he continues to be a fan of complexity. This Naxos disc, a 2006 reissue of what Koch put out in the early 1990s, features six trios for various instruments. The performers are from the Group for Contemporary Music, an ensemble Wuorinen himself helped found many decades ago.
I found the music appalling. Wuorinen's music is atonal, but he has found no other way to build up a discernible structure, which European serialists had made a priority two decades earlier. His music is certainly busy, with many different strands, but there is no coherence between them and it just all seems like sonic noodling. Except for the instrumentation, I can't perceive much difference between any of the pieces. Furthermore, they are so generic that I probably couldn't tell them apart from, say, one of Peter Lieberson's student pieces. Granted, these trios were written in the span of only four years in the 1980s, and Wuorinen has had a career long enough for considerable stylistic change. I may explore other Wuorinen discs at the library. However, after hearing this I'm pretty disappointed, and it's hard to keep my hopes up that there is some substance to the music of this controversial figure.