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Erik Friedlander: 50 Miniatures for Improvising Quintet

Jewish philosophy, religious belief and mathematics buttress this startling CD, a collection spanning tune, snippet, melody and outburst. Inspired by the 14th letter of the Hebrew alphabet, it consists of seven groups of seven pieces, capped by a standalone. It is best listened to as a whole, as it resists casual sampling, and its shape isn’t made clear until its restful conclusion.

Rigorously composed, with room for explosive improvisation, cellist Erik Friedlander’s work was commissioned by the Contemporary Jewish Museum, where it was performed in 2008 as part of a special project curated by sometime Friedlander collaborator John Zorn. Remixed and reconfigured, it now surfaces on this spiky, rigorously modern disc.

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