LABELS: Sound and Music
WORKS: Works by Birwistle, Harvey, Alvarez, Calix
CATALOGUE NO: SAM 0801
This disc should open a few ears. If you are sceptical about the possibilities of either surround sound or electronic music, try remaining unmoved by the four works here. Recovery/Discovery presents three classic electroacoustic works, with Mira Calix’s much more recent, and highly effective Nunu Wadudu – a virtuosic combination of live instrumental sounds and electronically manipulated insect noises – as a representative of more recent developments.
For convenience, one side of the disc is delivered in conventional stereo, but its raison d’être is the flip-side, which can be played in a standard DVD player (taking into account the prevalence of home-cinema surround systems) and presents the pieces in four-channel sound.
Jonathan Harvey’s beautiful Mortuos Plango, Vivos Voco is well-known from stereo release, but being inside the bell sonorities, with his son’s voice floating freely around is a haunting experience. Javier Alvarez’s incisive, yet genial Temazcal combines electronics with a virtuosic part for maracas, played here by Joby Burgess, and finally, here, has a recording that conveys a sense of the live experience.
The real coup, though, (thanks to persistent detective work by Lieven Bertels) is the first opportunity since 1972 to hear the quadraphonic version of Harrison Birtwistle’s landmark Chronometer. The sounds are dated, and evocative of the era, but, like the rest of this disc, they make for compulsive listening. Overall, this recording comes strongly recommended. Christopher Dingle