Anthony Braxton’s Composition 222 Performance Reviewed

Source: San Francisco Classical Voice.

Composition 222 is one of Braxton’s ghost trance pieces — so called for having a “ghost phrase” that pervades and structures the entire work. Its organizing phrase is an irregular, pointillistic series of meandering notes daubed out with relentless, metronomic exactitude by Wubbels and Modney at the outset of the work. (At least in this performance. The structure of the piece is extremely fluid — even the instrumentation is only a suggestion from the composer — and Modney’s own recording of the work on his 2018 album Engage dispenses with the piano and begins with ominous whispers instead of a forceful declaration.) Despite having a tumultuous contour and no perceptible meter to hold onto, the theme’s sheer insistence lodged it firmly in the ear, and it was instantly recognizable whenever it returned in the 40-odd minutes of music that followed.