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The music of Torke is dynamic, brilliant, upbeat, exciting, rhythmic, syncopated, bouncy, repetitive sometimes like dance music ("Overnight Mail"), sometimes through processes similar to those of minimalism ("Telephone Book", "July", "Flint"), and always entertaining. But here, in these works composed between 1995 and 1997, it also goes, significantly more than his earlier works collated on the two previous Argo CDs devoted to him in the early 1990s (Michael Torke's Color Music, Chamber Works) in the direction of "pretty" but inconsequential lounge music (the slow movements especially), big band jazz, sometimes souding like no more than a minimalist version of the fluffliest music of Poulenc (Finale of "Telephone Book"), "easy-listening" music-for-entertainment-only, consumption music. By the way, in case you wondered, the titles of Torke's works have no particular meaning or relation with the content of the pieces: by his own admission, he composes abstract music, then finds the titles, to make the pieces more appealing to the public - sorry, that's an interpretation: "to help bring it into the world and make it real" in his own words.
The likening of Torke to Brahms in the otherwise informative liner notes might have seemed a good idea, but ultimately it is rather embarrassing. Why not Bach, while they were at it ? Like, you know, that direct line that goes from Bach - Beethoven - Brahms - Wagner - Mahler - The Beatles - Torke - and me. No kidding: "what Brahms, Torke and the best of popular music share is instant memorability. What Brahms and Torke also share (which is only true of a very small percentage of popular music) are layers of structural logic that support the memorable tunes which make repeated listenings a constant adventure of discovery... ".
No, this is not Brahms, this is entertaining like a good jazz band. When you've had enough Dizzy Gillespie and Duke Ellington, listen to Torke.
And, Michael, in a hundred years from now, we can convene and discuss the jugements of posterity on the basis of the four major symphonies that you will no doubt some day compose, four concertos, major chamber and piano music, and not just on the basis of your entertaining but rather fluffy "Hungarian Dances"... Best wishes.