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Minimal approach

PATRIC STANDFORD listens to the music of Elodie Lauten

4Tay    CD 4023

Elodie Lauten: Waking in New York - Portrait of Allen Ginsberg. © 2003 4Tay Records

Elodie Lauten was born in Paris in 1950, the daughter of jazz musician Errol Parker, and came to New York 1973 when she was 'discovered' by poet Allen Ginsberg and encouraged in her already precocious excitement for sonic invention. She went to New York University, learnt a lot from LaMonte Young and others, married, became a Buddhist, and is the inspiration for dance and concert events, sound installations and the staging of operatic presentations, workshops and collaborations with instrumentalists and librettists. She has a formidable list of work which includes some curiously esoteric articles.

Her most recent piece was the première at the Willow Place Auditorium, Brooklyn of Symphony 2001 in its revised and unabridged version. This is a joyful nineteen-minute orchestral celebration of the Millennium in Sioux songs, mystery, magic, Buddha, making light of the dark predictions of Nostradamus, and building seven very brief movements from correspondences between colours and their sound frequencies.

Close on its heels follows the subject of this CD review, Waking in New York, a flow of Allen Ginsberg's introverted thoughts and impressions compiled only six months before his death, and made into a kind of Two Act musical by Elodie Lauten, with singers Mark Duer as Ginsberg, Meredith Borden as Compassion, with Tyler Azelton and Sherrita Duran as the two faces of Freedom. Lauten is described as a leading light of postminimalism, and this piece seems to be doing something like that, a minimal approach to word setting, harmonic structuring, instrumental colour and even the text itself [listen -- track 1, 1:00-2:58].

For a short time its fascination is mesmerising, but neither music nor text are quite Sondheim, and only a strong personal enthusiasm or connexion would stimulate concentration for over an hour on this recording. It could be better live, and it does make one curious about other works (like that Symphony 2001), but on CD its mechanical syllabic setting, show-style vocals and instrumental constraint creates a longing for greater subtle invention [listen -- track 3, 0:00-1:00]. The Lauten website is, however, quite a revelation.

Copyright © 18 October 2003 Patric Standford, Wakefield, UK


Elodie Lauten: Waking in New York

CD 4023 DDD Stereo NEW RELEASE 66'32" 2003 Elodie Lauten

Mark Duer, baritone; Meredith Borden, soprano; Tyler Azelton, soprano; Sherrita Duran, soprano; Grigory Kalinovsky, violin; Jaram Kim, violin; Tania Askins, viola; Andrei Tchekmazov, cello; Rafael Agudelo, contrabass; Ulla Suokko, flute; Bill Ruyle, drums; Mustafa Ahmed, percussion; Elodie Lauten, synthesizer

Waking in New York - Portrait of Allen Ginsberg, from the poetry of Allen Ginsberg (in two acts)



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Record Box is Music & Vision's regular Saturday series of shorter CD reviews