Riley, Denisov, Donatoni, PŠrt & Loevendie

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COMPOSERS: Denisov,Donatoni,Pärt & Loevendie,Riley
LABELS: Etcetera
ALBUM TITLE: Collection: Four Winds
WORKS: Works by Riley, Denisov, Donatoni, Pärt & Loevendie
PERFORMER: Cello Octet Conjunto Ibérico/Elias Arizcuren
CATALOGUE NO: KTC 1252
Cellos work better en masse than any other instrument – their huge range allows them to be soprano, alto, tenor and bass, and with this Netherlands-based group it’s easy to forget that Riley’s Requiem for Adam was originally written for string quartet. It’s not just the accuracy of the high harmonics and glissandi, but the way that the music sounds completely natural in its new dress. Pärt’s Fratres was dished up for a variety of combinations by the composer himself, and played here without vibrato it conjures up the sound of a viol consort, strangely appropriate for the archaic quality of the music. The other pieces were all written for the Conjunto Ibérico in the late Nineties: Denisov’s Hymne belies its title in its pounding rhythms and cluster-like harmonies, which at times reminded me of Xenakis; textures are more varied in Donatoni’s Lame II, with its solo lines, pizzicato and tenuous sul ponticello effects, and the silences which punctuate the notes; finally, ghosts of Turkish and Spanish dancers caper fantastically in Loevendie’s Two Mediterranean Dances.

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Printed track timings need to be taken with a pinch of salt, but not the performances, which respond to the different demands of each composer with virtuosity and sensitivity. Martin Cotton