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Hypnotically Repetitious

Chamber music by
Chris Lastovicka,
reviewed by

Ahari Press    8 53582 00174 9

Fortune Has Turned. C Lastovicki. © 2005 Ahari Press

Chris Lastovicka was born in 1973 in Houston, TX, and now lives and works in Philmont, NY. She graduated with honours from the Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music in 1995 and describes herself as writing 'music dealing primarily with psychological and metaphysical subjects'. None of this information features in the tri-lingual notes -- English, French and Spanish -- but no translation of the Rilke poem which is the motivation for The Tender Ones, a piece for horn, played by Robert Garcia (who features on all but one of the five tracks) and Lastovicka who appears as pianist throughout the whole recital. There is something attractively haunting about the opening of this piece [listen -- track 2, 0:02-1:27] though it tends to wander through its allotted ten minutes rather vaguely.

The music is all (as she describes one piece herself) hypnotically repetitious, no match against the very few who are masters of minimalism and clearly among the many who follow. The promise of vocal word-settings does not materialize, for The 7th Chapter of Job, scored for three female voices, violin, cello and piano, uses the voices as instrumental colour. Its rise to a grand climax does not, in this harmonic climate, achieve very much [listen -- track 3, 4:00-5:26]. This is extracted from an experimental opera about UFO abduction and is based on an epic poem by E M Lauricella, whose elusive lines entitled The End of Tyranny provide the basis for a vocalise with that title, soprano Kimberly Tobola accompanied by violin, horn, cello and piano.

The most substantial pieces on the disc are both purely instrumental, ie without voices: Abraxas (as in Hermann Hesse's Demian) and Shanti, a quite effective idea drowned in repetitious over indulgence with nowhere to go. The recording throughout is good and quite resonant. These are all pieces written during the composer's period of study (1991-95) and demonstrate a self-conscious youthfulness, the potential of which would have been better to realise than advertise. But as all proceeds from the CD's sale are going to Oxfam America and Columbia Land Conservancy, the cause justifies a mildly interesting experience.

Copyright © 19 August 2006 Patric Standford, Wakefield UK


Fortune Has Turned - C Lastovicka

8 53582 00174 9 Stereo FIRST RELEASE 49'30" 2005 Ahari Press

Eric Bates, violin; Anna T Horvath, violin; Katrin St Clair, violin; Lara Theilmann-Messerly, violin; Missy Hydock, viola; Christina M Coletta, cello; Damon Gray, cello; Tom Guth, cello; Heidi Mausbach, cello; Kenneth Woods, cello; Robert Garcia, horn; Kristen Johns, horn; Chris Lastovicka, piano; Kimberly Tobola, soprano; Diana Cataldi, mezzo; Laura Backley, contralto; Cynthia Katsarelis, conductor

Chris Lastovicka (born 1973): Abraxas (1991); The Tender Ones (1991); The 7th Chapter of Job (1994); Shanti (1993); The End of Tyranny (1995)



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