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<<  -- 2 --  Ron Bierman    ORIGINAL SOUNDS


The better known and generally well-regarded George Crumb places greater emphasis on the mysteries of our universe and takes his history from natural science, not religion. Rather than a simple hymn, it is the soulful cry of the whale that inspired Vox Balaenae. Crumb is known partly for the original sounds he creates, and he doesn't disappoint here. The humpback imitations by cello and flute require virtuosic technique.

The electric flute is the first instrument heard. The flutist is called upon for throaty vocal additions in a style that recalls Japanese Kabuki, probably not a coincidence since the composer asks that the piece be performed by three masked musicians [listen -- track 7, 0:00-1:13]. This first movement is Crumb's reaction to descriptions of the Big Bang. The ensuing five variation movements are named after geological ages 'to symbolize infinite antiquity'. The work concludes with a peaceful Sea-Nocturne symbolic of the end of time [listen -- track 14, 5:46-7:00]. The flute remains prominent throughout the suite. Amplified piano and cello complete the instrumental trio.

The Kellogg premier steals the spotlight. Crumb's much older piece now sounds a bit contrived in comparison. But both composers weave melodic material and unusual tonal colors in a way that is accessible, and worthy of repeated listening. This is an intriguing release with outstanding performances. Strongly recommended for the mildly adventurous.

Copyright © 26 June 2005 Ron Bierman, San Diego, USA


beginnings - eighth blackbird

CDR 90000 076 DDD Stereo NEW RELEASE 56'20" 2004 Cedille Records

Chanticleer (Kellogg prelude only); eighth blackbird: Molly Alicia Barth, flutes; Michael J Maccaferri, clarinets; Matt Albert, violin; Nicholas Photinos, cello; Matthew Duvall, percussion; Lisa Kaplan, piano

Daniel Kellogg (born 1976): Divinum Mysterium (2000); George Crumb (born 1929): Vox Balaenae (Voice of the Whale, 1971)


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