Percussion Works by Xenakis, Donatoni, Rodney Bennett, Bruno Mantovani & Philippe Hurel
Adelaide Ferriere (percussion)
Evidence EVCD067 81.32 mins
French percussionist Adélaïde Ferrière displays terrific skill and vibrancy in this impressive disc which showcases a range of contemporary masterpieces for solo percussion.
The collection is framed by two multi-percussion works by Iannis Xenakis, who in just a handful of pieces turned the world of percussion music upside down. Rebonds (1987-88) is based on the principle of bounce and plays on the transformation of simple, repetitive cells in ever-dizzying ways, while Psappha (1975) draws on the rhythmic patterns of the ancient Greek poet Sappho, also inviting each performer to select their own instruments in performance. Psappha would doubtless prove a remarkable visual spectacle – Ferrière’s instrumental choices feature everything from oil drums to frog guiros to boobams (tuned bongos made of bamboo) – but her focused performance proves entirely thrilling to the ears and succeeds in drawing out a compelling sense of narrative from this complex work.
Conjuring a softer soundworld, Richard Rodney Bennett’s After Syrinx II for solo marimba is one of four works by the composer which reimagines Debussy’s iconic Syrinx for solo flute. Bennett’s piece traces much of the flute’s original line while adding new colours and textures alongside a pervasive sense of sadness and nostalgia, which Ferrière captures in a wonderfully poised and atmospheric performance.
Other highlights include Franco Donatoni’s intricate Omar for solo vibraphone (1985) and the virtuosic Moi, jeu… (1998) for solo marimba by Bruno Mantovani, which Ferrière negotiates with total assurance. This is an outstanding debut featuring bravura performances, an imaginative programme and crystal-clear recording quality throughout. Kate Wakeling