Only gradually has the music world come to realize how individual George Perle's music is, what a flexible musical language he has developed, and how different that language is from serialism. Perle never writes down to an audience and never worries about "accessibility," but he is a firm believer that "a piece that 'makes sense' will reach one, at some intuitive level, even at first hearing." Perle's divergence from mainstream twelve-tone music came early. In 1937 he borrowed the score to Alban Berg's Lyric Suite through which he discovered Schoenberg's twelve-tone system; but instead of regarding the row as an inviolable ordering of the twelve pitches, he considered it a modified scale that the composer could move around in at will. By the time he realized his mistake, he had discovered so many possibilities in his own, more flexible system that, as he said, "Schoenberg's idea of the series seemed so primitive compared to mine." Perle persevered in developing a "twelve-tone tonality," method of using the entire chromatic spectrum that corresponds closely to the major/minor system of traditional tonality.
The young Thalia Ensemble erupted into the public spotlight with their being chosen as winners at the prestigious biennial York Early Music International Young Artists Competition. Their debut release spotlights the compositions of Antoine Reicha. Regarded as a pre-eminent composer for winds, Reicha , a flautist had an uncanny gift of melding the various wind instruments into a rich sonic tapestry in his compositions and the Thalia Ensemble’s inspired and dynamic playing proves to be a perfect match with the lively Wind Quintets.
This disc features one of Perle's earliest surviving compositions Pantomime, Interlude and Fugue (1937). Also included are his 1971 Fantasy-Variations, which combine an improvisational (but precisely notated) musical rhetoric with a more tightly structured variation format; Six New Etudes (1984), a companion set to Perle's immensely successful Six Etudes of 1976 (recorded by Bradford Gowen on NW 304); Suite in C (1970), and the fiendishly difficult Short Sonata (1964). In 1986, Perle received the Pulitzer Prize in music and a MacArthur Foundation Fellowship—honors confirming his belated emergence as one of today's most distinguished composers