COMPOSERS: Powell,Roger Smalley & Souster,Stockhausen
ALBUM TITLE: Collection: Michael’s Farewell
PERFORMER: John Wallace (trumpet); Andrew Powell (electronics)
CATALOGUE NO: DXL 1039
This enterprising disc is the ideal showcase for the more experimental side of trumpeter John Wallace’s exceptional talents. He gives characterful, committed performances displaying all manner of weird and wonderful techniques through the wide-ranging demands of these pieces – although whether you would want to listen to it all in one sitting is debatable.
The broad interests of British composer Andrew Powell are apparent in Plasmogeny II, which culminates in an eyebrow-raising Miles Davis-meets-the-Kodo-Drummers episode. Tim Souster’s aural landscapes are more subtle, and more vivid: The Transistor Radio of St Narcissus charts a slow journey from noise to melody and cadence, and takes in some magical scenery on the way.
Roger Smalley’s Echo III uses the simple device of tape delay to build complex structures around Wallace’s eloquent solo line, and the ear has fun tracing the three-part canon back and forth between soloist and tape. Ironically, it’s the disc’s title track, Michael’s Farewell by Stockhausen, that’s the least successful work here. The piece is the final segment of Stockhausen’s opera Donnerstag, but divorcing the work from its semi-theatrical context does it no favours, since the musical material isn’t strong enough to hold the attention on its own. David Kettle