with use of overtones, tonal awareness,...and other, different creative visions review page 2

review page 2 Eleanor HovdaPhilip BlackburnNoah Creshevshky,
NOISE with Matthew BurtnerJerry HuntNick Brooke
Xenia Pestova,​ Manuel Zurria

Innova Rec.Eleanor Hovda : The Eleanor Hovda Collection -4CD- (US/PL,2012)***°

Innova Records decided to release a 4 CD box with works of the still a bit neglected composer and performer Eleonor Hovda. With these recordings we begin to picture the sound pallet she started to develop, as her own sound, because that is what she was searching for and what she developed over the years and left behind as “moments” with a vision behind them-, a bit more than as movements. 

What we know is that she got an AD at American University, had teachers like Morton Feldman, George Crumb, Pauline Oliveros and John Cage and that she followed a course at Stockhausen’s. It is clear how she was influenced by Cage when she made pieces for inside the piano, that what she called ‘tambour piano’. Different from Cage her main goal was not to develop a new sonic pallet for contemporary compositions, but to start from an investigation of sound itself. She had no interest in a trust for compositional, melodic or other structural preparations, the development had to come from inside, from spatial and also the very physical awareness of its use of instruments, from the movement from the body that performs with it, its gestures, which she managed to expand to or eventually extract from dance and performance after the investigation and preparation of the material and all its aspects that come forward from it itself, as a preparation for these moments of dance and music in united combination of development. At first, it seemed that she reorganised the shape of what is called a musical instrument within a group of performers making at the same time a new starting point of colours for the orchestra or ensemble itself. The playing of the instruments is also much more physical than usual. This is a form of vibration, of oscillation, of intonation, with the use of rubbing that in result changes the natural element of the actual playing of an instrument into that of air or wind for instance. Roughly said, one could eventually recognise soundscapes in time reminiscent the use of drones elsewhere. The flutes in that case take a bit of the role of the improviser, like the reinvention of birds responding to their environments. A second influence surely must have been her husband, flutist and conductor David Gilbert. For him she reconsidered the flutes also as a breathing instrument more than a melodic instrument, again reducing it to it’s a physical instrument of expression. What happens more often is that the sound of iron comes forward, in fact rather often, not unusual for improvised music of the 20st century. Foundations of changing movements then more are performed by clarinet or piano. The music moves in space very naturally like breathing, like an improvisation, she was more interested in the conditions of elements like being described in physics, as characteristics in motion as starting points compared to let’s say song melody. For listening to four CD’s in one take the disadvantage of the focus of sound becomes a bit more omnipresent, forming something out of nothing, but without other direction than its own presence, still is a bit little and very minimal as an outsider to orientate within its full amount of realities for such a long extent, I am sure we miss a bit the performances and also dance concepts themselves. But with the scores included as PDF’s in the booklet showing many strange accentuations for the interpretations there is a lot to discover over time…

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Innova Rec.      Philip Blackburn : Ghostly Psalms (US,2012)***'

I am not at all surprised to read that Philip Blackburn followed a course at the Deep listening institute by Pauline Oliveros (amongst several other contemporary schools). “Ghostly Psalms” is a fitting title for this album with a certain diversity of projects with a common approach but with different instruments. It is as if something of a general buzz, an aftersound keeps hanging in the air, in the environment, the same performers who expressed something there before now, continue to improvise on those remains. The tracks flow well into one another but the starting points and settings and used instruments are a few times different. 

The first track uses the sounds of the Wisconsin harbour, including alarm bells and boat whistles. These could as well be school bells or train stop bells and the horns at times could have been car horns, all these sounds strengthen an listening awareness but I also liked the idea how the context could be intermingled, as if different human expressed sounds in different environments of urban life have certain similarities. One could possibly recognise as being true or not some children playing ground sounds, steam whistle sounds, but also the inclusion of bowls and chimes and bassoons/trombones/Tibetan horn, so also extensions of a deliberate amplification of the environmental sounds into a real performance. 

The largest part of the album is the “Ghostly Psalms” themselves, in different parts and with some different performers and additional ideas. In it there has been parts dealing with the harmonic series especially in the bowl-like sounds. Elsewhere the idea of a virtual rhythmicon has been dealt with, associated with such tones in a similar way. 
One of the tracks has some spoken word monologues, like people/performers with separate expressions around the same subject (on “Jungle Litany”), sounding like a big podium performance.  On one of the other tracks, “Draw On, Sweet Night”, sampled collages of choir music are changing itself rapidly by manipulation of brainwave and muscle movement reactions. Elsewhere fragments of Christian choir music are mixed with contemporary organ tones. Another track plays more directly with permutating overtones and undertones of two organs. Rubbed bells add peeping tones. There has been a play with resonance mixed with vocal whispers and choir singing and performance, including a few more instruments like a Thai pipe organ. 

The effect of all of this is only partly an awareness of sound and environment and the reconsideration of its elements into manipulation and blowing up its characteristics, mostly the characteristics become dissolved back into the same environment like an echo, becoming once more one with its own remain. Thus this becomes a bit dream-like.

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Pogus Rec.      Noah Creshevsky : Rounded with a sleep (US,2012)****'

It is a relief and surprise to hear Noah Creshevsky changed his own concept/approach a bit for this release, taking off the extreme a bit when he rearranges his conceived talent this time into slower progressions, in which it is even more clear and easier to follow what he is doing and expressing, allowing in this way a more normal level of emotionality and speed of evolution into the unfolding of his expressions. From his ideas of hyperrealism the (hyper)kinetic approach has been left out. This is created more onto the rhythm and the level of the speech where every tone is expressed either like singing or like spoken language. 

On the first track, “Rounded With A Sleep”, it still is recognisable how he builds up his composition with almost sampled, picked out direction of a musical phoneme under the form of a tone, accent, arpeggio, or whatever choice of a specific instrument, combined with the next one to form his composition with those phonemes instead of notes. In this case you can follow the rhythmic accents in a way someone is singing, directing, moving in space with the dance of the composition. This composition has a layer of singing with an orchestral accompaniment (violin, cello, voices and later flute improvisations and harpsichord) that consists of this collage-like collection of phonemes of movements. 
The second track, “La Sonnambula”, has more continuous improvisations on piano, clarinet and vibraphone, some in contemporary series' of notes, while a certain fluent and melodic, at times almost jazzy improvisational movement develops with it as well. “Lisa Barnard Redux” consists of several layers of slightly breathy or quietly singing expressions of spoken word rhythms of consonants, an original playful idea of using human voice. The last part turns to a vocally arranged Baroque chamber-like music melody, while the rhythmic play continues further in the background. 
“What If” is a composition with a fast steady melodic piano piece played like a Baroque harpsichord piece of which some notes in between are played on separate notes on the harpsichord as if being some accompanying echo, a bit annoying and disarming the composition as an idea and very playful at the same time. Luckily this idea evolves further when the piano composition becomes a more contemporary composition, so that the harpsichord seems to free itself from this bodice, taking a lead a bit further on, improvising a bit and then returning playfully to this combined body of Baroque notes. 
“Tomomi Adachi Redux II” reminds me a bit of the brilliant Asa-Chang & Junray release which was a play of rhythm, Japanese language and a lot more. This track by Noah Creshevsly has an original vocal part based upon fast word expressions that sound like the Japanese language, mixed with funny vocal sounds accents, accompanied by chords of another Baroque melody on guitar. I feel it is a bit of a shame that this idea of accompaniment does not evolve itself to something else once it made itself clear (which would have uplift it to a next level, something the Asa-Chang release always did), it is instead kept basic and simple to an expression of one, still very good idea. 
“The Kindness Of Strangers” is played by a few layers of electric amplified guitar (?) mixed with keyboards perhaps, there is attention to the way it is performed as if there is a constant up and down fading in of sound while picking and sliding accents are expressed, the combination of all these ideas are sonically interesting, the change itself is natural like an improvisation. And it also builds up further by adding some voice contributions in the same way, as if giving it a song expression context too. 
“In Memoriam” is a chamber-music piece where the direct orchestral playing is much more easy to follow than ever before on Noah’s compositions, giving it an extra dynamic, almost emotionally rich expression to the movements. The way the descending and ascending speed changes are added to the composition and bowed playing recreates the way the orchestra has been played, showing a very practical use of his hyperrealism idea, while being expressed on a new classical piece that expands Bartok to something of more emotional value. 

There are really many ideas in this album that are worth discovering. The full concept is highly enjoyable, well alternated and highly accessible, so these are a good start before delving deeper into the works of this talented composer.

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Innova Rec.     Nick Brooke : Border Towns (US,2013)***°

You can hardly pass the pick and sample era, engaged by people who can hardly focus for too long, this unfixed modern mind is only constantly skipping and pushing buttons to go the next pages, heading for the next thrill, the next action movement, quick and nervous, hardly concentrating long on one slower subject except when hanging emotionally attached to something, suddenly one does not know how to progress from any error with transformations equally well. More and more modern composers are no longer coming from or belong to the generation of deductive minds dedicated to large compositions this way downwards. Their minds had been saturated as well with impressions, while skipping themselves as well their numerous and still hardly hanging together impressions. They themselves also start to embrace collage, samples, and the processes of this new, modern mind. 

This piece by Nick Brooke seems to be a mixture of cabaret and musical, including inspirations from classical singing and memories of pop music while using sampling collages of sounds, often related with that singing, as if associating the events and scenes with a comic book, never too serious, and at times adding things like burps or effect which almost become like a blasphemy to its own seriousness or genre, with some extra elements of arrangements, the pieces are broken into several rhythmically cut schizophrenic layers, with use of repetition and a rhythmical cutting progress keeping a bit of logic in the pieces while dividing the mind through this processing as well, and even though each of the elements seek partly for some harmony or rhythmical contrast and response, especially the comic elements and dividing contrasting progress at the same time this works also disturbing in the end, making you nervous never finding a real sense of or in this order. Perhaps the theatrical stage collage will still provide that bigger logic, but only hearing this constant collage of schizophrenia makes it difficult to get the grip of sense of why this is really happening. It is all so prepared, without showing the extra purpose of an emotional engagement, this mostly remains a technical hearing process being enslaved to all impressions, from radio pop tunes to classical education memories, to 50s vocal groups singing, without finding the common source that makes them work together other than into a border land of logic, of a hearing of memorizing process alone, as being part of the fixed and impressoned by it composer’s mind who just uses a survival trick to keep all this together into something more special, just like a technical architect who started to cut and slice tapes in his free time and making an order of that destructive field only to find a new order, a logic, which not necessarily provide already a real sense behind all these memorisations or a new sense.

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Pogus Rec. Jerry Hunt :Haraman Plane, 
Three Translation Links (US,rec.1993,re.2013)***°'

Much more often, when I hear that new composers compose music for a classical orchestra, I have the feeling that this is remains a conservative idea, because nearly everything has already been said with it, and also, without a sensitivity to other sounds that these milked out combinations, the tendency to fall back on paper music alone will be almost inevitable. There's much more in music possible than with that sort of limited formula of a classical orchestra. This traditional orchestra to me has become an unrealistic tool for new creative expressions.
I have still noticed however, on the first track of these compositions, a new idea that resonates to the classical orchestra that hasn't been done yet. This element to arrange in essence does not yet provide entirely different compositions compared to classical music when I simply compare this to the melodic changes being used and I heard here, because this aspect here is limited to tensions and to intonations with some tones dominating during each emphasis. What is however entirely different is the way how or better with what the orchestral composition is made here : it "vibrates" very much and expresses itself very much with just that vibrato aspect dominating. Besides this element, we still have percussive bells and noise 
accents being added too, while the vibratos of tones come and go in layers and in different tones, like some directed wind with pressures of/on certain tones. These tones pass by in layers like a reverb orchestra being slowed down, ot like some kind of weird life-form or an expression of physical movement that haunts and that hunts you down. It is like orchestrated beast that acts in a way as if every element is dedicated to the hive of the composer.

(This approach slightly reminds me of a variation of ideas that could interest people who also like the composer Giacinto Celsi).

This approach continues further into the second track with the addition of extra layers so that here it gets even more an orchestral effect, with the present sections of orchestral violin strings (in the high pitched tones), the layer of the flutes and various wind instruments, and the tonal layer of the low strings, with still its distinctive and perfectly placed percussive accents to it. More and more, the music forms a sound world with some inhibited organic repetition, higher tones whirling and slower wings-like waves, while it's nervous intonation of timbre remains, as if hyperactivity is mingled with meditative strength and its further restriction of it. I have no idea how it is composed and if tape or computer was used to actualise it's desired effects, it surely has something of electro-acoustic music while keeping an orchestral music mind and effect to it. The intonation or stressed factors slowly show it's changes.

On the third track, some extra and also interruptive mechanical rhythms are added with different colours of keyboard-like layers, under the form of percussive breathy-noise accents and even several more keyboard-tonal-like irregular rhythms played in different mono-colours. After a while these vibrations remain hanging in the air,  like a dark cloud, dense and dramatic, but still with an ending as if the storm and rain went over.

The fourth track takes a more percussive emphasis, like a shaky rain, and from here with additional string effects being added this time. This part demands already more from the listener for it remains rather long in the same area like a darker cloud of rain. The nearly annoying percussive sounds return too, giving side-effects to the cloud, making nervous tensions in the cloud. I wonder how much this represents also the mind of the composer, as someone who is over-sensitive and nervous, feeling a tension and pressure of directions by too many things that are noticed at the same time. You can imagine here the pool of thoughts and experiences, that are like reflecting circles on the supposed to be quietness of the brain. In this case, the mind doesn't come to it's ease or rest. At some stage, a real storm breaks loose with deep bass and shaky percussion. The percussive powers are taking over the scene, while being accompanied by brass with irregular timbres and strings. Then the brass-like drones starts to lead with triangle-alike fast percussion. This returns to the keyboards-alike endless over-layers. I am not sure what to think off this part yet, because I can sense also a certain imbalance or loss of control over the situation, not succeeding any more to open it up, to have it breathing well from inside consciously. One needs to know that the composer had severe lung cancer around this time, something in all it's genius ideas also in this composition it is like something is taking over.

The nervousness which in the first track started as simple vibrations into an original characteristic, now is taking over everything completely. This next part starts with percussive and horn-like vibrations, combined with shaky electro-acoustics (plastic? and paper objects). We feel orchestral strings vibrations, like an inward nervous vibration. It is not too difficult to listen to, but it does not feel it can (still) go anywhere to, 
is more like a busy and nervous vibration, with electro-acoustic vibrations of movement in combination with the deep brass kind of sounds. This is a dense and dark area. There's also something chaotic about this density, something dramatic.

On the last part, the nervousness comes to the phase of becoming chaotic in its (cell) origin, while pickings and harp-like programmed contemporary notes are added, all these layers remain slightly nervous layers too, a combination of the effect of brass, keyboards with added electro-acoustic paper waving percussion...

The label says “The three sections of this electronic work constitute the composer's last pieces. He regarded the recorded version of this work as a "document for rehearing." The overall sound is the densest and most intricate in this one of a kind artist's body of work. The three sections consist of "interlocking audio and video optical discs which provide the fundamental image, sound and program control strings ... action code pattern structures ... for a group of transactional mimetic gesture exercises ... inflection calls evoking ... melody streams" with simultaneous tracks of acoustic percussion. The sonic result is an entrancing, overwhelming, evocative shamanistic performance of brilliantly designed electronic timbres.”

Jerry hunt since 1978 had always been interested in solo performances using theatrical mimics and semi-mythical gestures which were also inspired from his interest in esoteric ideas based upon, for instance, the magic of the Enochian tablets and its ceremonial practice. He had developed interactive systems with a computer while sound and sight are deliberately confused and intermingled to provoke an act of theatrical bewilderedness. Some of these works were used especially for video recordings. He was artist-in-residence 
at the Video Research Center in Dallas from 1974-77, and in his later years he had devoted himself full-time in fulfilling commissions and working on collaborative projects with such people as visual artist Maria Blondeel 
(Gent), performance artist Karen Finley (New York), and composer and software designer Joel Ryan (Amsterdam). The website Classical Composers also mentions that “Hunt was also an innovative computer systems designer and created mysterious alliances of computers and primal energy in his installation pieces (like a voodoo hut with computerized proximity detectors triggering electronic sounds for the New Music America festival in Houston).”

After having suffered for too long from his lung cancer, he ended his life by using gas for it, something which he prepared with all details, leaving nobody behind that would suffer any consequences of that action...

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Innova Rec. NOISE plays Burtner (US,2013)****
  -music by Matthew Burtner-


This concept surprised me for its starting point, its focus and motivation and exploitation for a chamber music use of noise, with the investigation and usage of different forms of noise into new music compositions. I must say that I am not at all a fan of the genre Noise, which exists too, a genre which for me still is exactly what it is : noise, but before putting you off, just let me tell you : this is nothing like it. The element of noise is already known and has been used before in contemporary classical music & new music, like I have noticed before in scores with not only white noise, but also differently coloured noise, like you can find it on the scores from Stockhausen (-just check also the liner notes of the 1972 debut from one of his occasional pupils, Klaus Schulze, who mentions different forms of filtered noise on “Irrlicht”). 

NOISE is also one of the projects and ensembles with which Matthew Burtner is a long time cooperator. This ensemble is specialised in performing experimental scores with complex notations. Here, the ensemble, also with Matthew Burtner participating (on sax), composed / prepared / performed a full album of chamber music in which they used as starting points different perspectives of noise that were used before in Burtner's music. One of the forms of noise are the click tracks in computer generated music, something which I thought to hear in the track “(dis)Sensus – Dissensus” but where the liner notes say it was used as a foundation for new relationships in the track “Polyrhythmicana”, a piece dedicated to Henry Cowell's “Rhythmicana”, an investigation in deep rhythm. Each instrument is wrapped in aluminium foil for an extra acoustic noise. In “Snowprints”, this could refer to white noise, which is generally when taken out of its own is called “snow”, but instead it used more directly a combination of the environmental noise of instruments, in combination with the soft white noise sounds of snow (the real snow!), when being confronted with changes by wind, temperature and time changes. “(Dis)Sensus”, the liner notes say, is about the “noise explored in the politics of interaction within the dynamic closed system of the ensemble”. 

Even though one could expect pieces that are merely entirely based upon the different forms of noise, the Ensemble more incorporates noise into chamber music, which is something else. In new music you could still expect a composer to prepare ideas that are played and sometimes interpreted by an ensemble, more and more in modern music, the composer began to have different roles of participation, from director to inspirer. Some mind needs to prepare the right distinguished elements, other forms of organisation are allowed to form its results with it too. Every level of participation has developed a sophistication in its own processing of ideas and practice. For the album, the ensemble merely used certain forms of noise in combination with poly-rhythms and via I guess partial improvisation, the result remains hanging in between chamber music, improvisational music, and also, sound sensitive exploration.

-----------The CD-----------

On the first part of “Polyrhythmicana”, the noise of aluminium foil interferes drastically with the rhythms on the cello. This is combined with monotone variations of tonal rhythms on cello, guitar and bell, while flute improvises most freely, driven by intonation. On the second part, the emphasis lies on the fast wood-percussion, combined with mono-rhythms on cello or double bass and flute, with theatrical accents provided by flute/bass drum. The third part focuses more on the irregularities in monotone overlapping rhythms of metal block, flute and wooden resonance box with tin foil resonating. On the fourth part different irregularities are explored in a slower mode, played by guitar with foil and flute and cello in close harmony, slowly changing tone, in a rhythm that has a hammered part and slowing down rhythm, like a stick falling down, while the cello and flute and in the end the guitar still play a few variations on top that makes the investigation complete. The last part shows the orchestra without any noise (cello, glockenspiel, flute, percussion), playing a harmonious chamber music version of that what happened before, with its descending rhythms, little variations, and small irregularities of change during its evolution, giving the impression of speeding up a bit and intermingling each layer like in an interaction of waves. 

“Snowprints”, as announced before, will have a subtle foundation of soft green white noise evolving over time, while the chamber orchestra listens and finds certain wave harmonies and a slow rhythm in it.  This sounds very natural and has its own descriptive beauty, with accents of contemporary piano with flute. The piece has different parts where cello / flute / piano improvise further with different forms of a chamber-music outcome. Near the end the chamber-music ensemble, which became to form a unity sounds like the hanging on a clothesline in the wind, peeping rhythmically too, or like a metal door in the wind, while the softer noise remains equally audible, like two focuses in space, like an object and the surrounding grass or in this case, snow and with the elements playing in it.

“(dis)Sensus” starts from the sound of writing on a carton box/loose plate, mixed with clicks from digital errors. These last rhythms and its variations are used for a chamber music piece based upon peeping and violin overtones sounds, at first, then are used for an improvisation with sax, violin and piano improvisations, freely, unattached and more like open minded jazz music mixed with contemporary classical music. 
- The approach is still very different, but it still is interesting to compare this idea with another use of digital clicks with chamber orchestra that can be heard on Efterklang's earliest album, their masterpiece “Tripper” (2004), which is made in a chamber-like modern progressive pop style.- 
During the different variations and parts, more polyrhythms are tried out ; -the ensemble feels free and just are “themselves”.  Also drumming is used for the rhythmical foundation. Thoroughly the piece forms a stronger theatrical expression. This is confirmed with additional instruments that come to it (police whistle, drums, peeping toy, toy flute).

An interesting album, where you can easily come back to and discover more in it in different details.


To comprehend the album even better, it helps to know the three main engagements of Burtner musical interests, which are embodiment, ecoacoustics and polyrhythm in chamber music. The interest in Noise-systems could eventually be added to this list as a fourth interest. Important for some of these interests and for the sense of hearing things differently is that he was born in Alaska. In the midst of silent nature pools, Burtner learned to listen to environments and realised the interactions that were happening or possible in/with it. Each sort of interaction needs a way of listening, needs a disciplined understanding and empathy for all that is available, for what can be worked with, without disturbing the balance.

People who read my review pages before, might have heard before of one of Butner’s other projects, the NOMADS (Network-Object Mobile-Agent Dynamic System), which is a telematic system (a tool for interaction across remote or local networks) and more specifically about the MICE project or the human-computer ensemble and orchestra (two MICE-related reviews you can find here). As a technologist he has developed systems for human-computer-environment interaction. 
Musical Ecoacoustics embeds environmental systems into musical and performance structures using new technologies. Abstracted environmental processes are seen from a musical vision and are given feedback. Not only sounds (audio) can be received and re-organised, but also other measurable parameters. There are hundreds of perceptions available and working upon our senses (temperature, interaction with the elements etc. ) that now are better included for a more thorough interaction on a sonic level. It is there where the first realisation came from the importance of the participation of noise. I can say about this that noise defines the object. Where waves define the abstract core, noise brings us to a confrontation with the real environment, the colours and its direct interaction.

The idea of Embodiment goes deeper into the physical experiences in certain environments, using interfaces with sensors to enhance that connection. Such models can be used in a theatrical and visualisation context to make the sensibility in the audience better prepared and the experience itself more complete.

One of the instruments that was invented for his purposes was the Metasaxophone, an acoustic tenor saxophone retrofitted with an on-board computer microprocessor, and an array of sensors that convert performance data into independent continuous control messages for a computer. In combination with a unique microphone system, each amplified sound can be controlled as well. This enhanced instrument was explored on a different CD on the label, called “Metasaxophone Colossus” (2004) which will be reviewed on a different page soon.

I also hope that one day one of his more theatrical/operatic pieces will be released on CD/DVD.

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Innova Music Xenia Pestova : Shadow Piano (RU/UK/NZ/..,2013)****’
-music for piano, toy piano & electronics-

When Xenia Pestova plays the piano, I have the impression the pieces are able to breath well and feel like being inspired, at other times it is more absorbed into the moody art of playing, but in the best choice of pieces I always have the impression Xenia Pestova is capable of showing us that piano music also has a third dimension, because that last aspect rarely is shown well, a reason why people tend to take a distance from piano music quickly as well. Personally I think that the piano sound itself is rather limited in its hammering process and by it’s body’s corner/edges so that especially the bass strings sound awfully flat. John Cage expanded the range of colours of the strings via the idea of the prepared piano, but there’s even much more possible how to enhance the instrument limited range.

The first piece by Scott Wilson for instance made immediately a very clever use of stereophonic effects and of the fading in and out of sounds, a process of playing a composition in three dimensions instead of the usual two via melody and rhythm and only the illusion of space like a respectful distance of entity, like via the movements of the counterpoint or also the embedded silences. The reverb effects here are also being used and reproduced like electroacoustic texture that is part of the composition, which is again a bright and brilliant enhancement. 

Also on other pieces we hear the use of electroacoustic material, but this is mostly more used as texture or as a background recording that is not interacting equally much in real-time or more directly. 

The piece from Lou Bunk finds its own space-and-time rhythm on the toy piano in a similar way like Cage found such rhythms via the prepared piano, with more colourful and different spatial variations. Also here you still get the impression of a three-dimensional vision with movement.

Also on the other pieces, the chosen tracks breath well vividly and inspired. Andrew Lewis track plays more with contemporary melodies. The last piece by Katherine Norman combines the piano and a textural drone with spoken word.

All pieces on the album were chosen by the pianist herself and are by befriended composers. Xenia Pestova had already been celebrated before for her interpretation of Stockhausen’s “Mantra”. Personally I think the album is an extremely good and fresh presentation of how piano music and playing could be and with it this could win the listeners again who got bored too easily of piano music in the fist place.

Xenia Pestova is mostly known as a Toy Piano concert Artist. She studied at numerous places and received her Doctoral Music degree in Canada. She is also currently the Head of Performance at the Bangor University School of Music in North Wales.

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Die Schachtel          Manuel Zurria : Landcape with Tears (I,2015)****

Arranger / flutist Manuel Zurria had already a release on the label before ; he could have easily published this release on labels like ECM. He had established the group Alter Ego in 1990. He had worked before with composers like Luc Ferrari, Alvin Lucier, Arvo Pärt, John Cage, Morton Feldman, László Sáry, Louis Andriessen, Aldo Clementi, Zoltan Jeney, Stefano Scodanibbio, Salvatore Sciarrino, Jonathan Harvey and Kevin Volans. For this release on several track he worked closer with composer György Kurtag. The main returning theme, hence the title, are tracks that developed an expression through melancholy. Secondly, the returning main composer is John Dowland, alternated with mostly modern composers. The Renaissance lute music of Dowland (who I always associate closely with Purcell, again for its sophistication, and returning melancholy if you wish), is here arranged for church-like organ and flute(s). It is this sort of close harmony overtone drone of organ that mixes with the different flutes that comes close to the range of the vocal tonal areas, which again is a returning theme of sensibility, which gets different angles of specific focussed attention for the modern composers. But even for the interpretation of Dowland, at closer listen, (listen to the ending of track 3 especially), one can also hear the additional use of electroacoustic spatial reverbs and workouts additionally to the performance, which enhances the classical approach to a welcome ear of sensitivity of newer times. The track by Mary Jane Leach shows overlapping tones and even more subtle use of space and overtones with voices and other close tones. Howard Skempton’s track shows the richness of timbres and different hatmonies of combining different flutes mixes also into organ-like backgrounds. Also the new music track by Peter Zötvös shows ranges of harmonic combinations with flutes. A strange idea I think is the forced mix of a sobbing Japanese woman, possibly taken from a movie, mixed with Dowland. The association of such a voice with music, as for instance shown by J.A.Caesar can be very effective, but in a way it is no perfect match in which two parties really feel being adapted to each other. Other new composers played are Gavin Bryars and Juste Januluyte. For lovers of Pärt, Dowland and such, this album can provide a few additional qualities to experience and to enjoy.

Manuel Zurria also showed a reference to writer/philosopher Michel De Montaigne.

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