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ALBUM TITLE: There Is Still Time
WORKS: There Is Still Time
PERFORMER: Frances-Marie Uitti (cello); Paul Griffiths (speaker)
CATALOGUE NO: 476 2411
This is a solo-instrument-plus-speaking-voice project derived from words spoken by Shakespeare’s Ophelia. Frances-Marie Uitti is very much the grande dame of the avant-garde, while Paul Griffiths is best known as an equally respected writer. Both display their qualifications prominently on this disc, a situation that benefits Uitti rather more than Griffiths, whose delivery as a voice actor is full of annoying near-misses. There’s a slightly misplaced stress here, an unconvincing emphasis there and the slightest implication of hesitation somewhere else, like a well-intentioned English teacher attempting to grapple with something like Beckett’s Krapp’s Last Tape. It’s a shame, because the texts themselves have a claustrophobic, paranoiac, egocentric and indeed existentialist feel to them that is reflected perfectly in the menacing, otherworldly sonorities of Uitti’s performance. In its entirety, though, the concept itself comes across as rather dated and self-conscious, being reminiscent of the performance-art experiments of past decades. An infuriating piece of work, then, in many ways. There are certainly more interesting contexts for Uitti’s playing, many of which have been committed to disc by other labels, and while Griffiths’s writings are indispensable his excursions into recording are not. The recorded sound is at least redemptive, capturing both performers with intimacy. Roger Thomas