WORKS: The Castle of the Mad King; Trio per uno; Ultimatum II
PERFORMER: Nebojša Jovan Živkovic, Benjamin Toth, Fernando Meza (percussion)
CATALOGUE NO: CD-1098
The German-based percussionist and composer Nebojša Jovan Živkovic has developed a searingly intense, forcefully masculine percussion world for much of this impressive new disc. He doesn’t balk at juxtaposing everything from dense, unforgiving dissonance to sentimental folk tunes in his wide-ranging works (‘post-modern’ is an adjective that’s mentioned perhaps too much in the booklet notes), and his grand gestures are characterised by an astonishing intensity and often fierceness. It’s evident that the composer is writing very much from within the percussion world: the range and combinations of sounds he creates are startling, and all is delivered in hugely virtuosic performances which can’t help but impress the listener.
The choice of pieces for the disc is slightly strange, however. The larger-scale The Castle of the Mad King and Trio per uno show serious concerns with rhythm and form – the former work in particular providing a fascinating showcase for Živkovic’s colourful improvisations – and the composer leads the listener into some bizarre sound-worlds. It’s often hard to identify the instruments being played, and even harder to believe that there’s just one person playing. But the lighter fare proves something of a distraction: the Bayerischer Ländler and Il canto dei gondolieri, for instance, are pleasant enough, but hardly worthy of repeated listening. Recorded sound is clear and resonant, picking up every subtlety of Živkovic’s remarkable performances. David Kettle