Alan Pierson, conductor
Nonesuch (advance copy), 54:58.
Review by Steve
from composers ranging from Ciconia to Birtwistle. This twenty-member ensemble
is trendy, having a previous disc Alarm Will Sound Performs Aphex Twin
(an electronica group), and intelligent. Many of the works are of the post-minimalist
school; if you're a Bang On A Can fan, you'll enjoy this a lot. Most of their
recordings are on the BOAC label, Canteloupe, and I can easily recommend them
as performers of the composers I like, such as Steve Reich.
The title explains
the musical thread connecting all these works. Most of them have repetitive
figures, but often release them and go off to varied moods and rhythms, as in
Harrison Birtwistle's Carmen Arcadiae Mechanicae Perpetuum.
For me, this is
a curate's egg, but one I'm delighted to have for a majority of the pieces.
Listen to the live performance of the Birtwistle piece on their website (as
well as excerpts from their other CDs) to allay any doubts.
mécanique" from Animals and the Origins of Dance (Benedict
meets Carl Stallings meets Antheil. A great piece which belies its brief timing.
The British composer makes good yet again.
- Yo Shakespeare
(Michael Gordon) 11:16
several connected sections. First, four minutes of facile post-minimalism,
then a quiet section that sounds like squeaky tire wheels and builds to a
thicker texture, and then some other things. II confess I find most of Mr.
Gordon's works dull, and do so here, although I really like the texture the
electric guitar adds within the ensemble.
des Agréments" from Animals and the Origins of Dance (Benedict
of the movements here from Mason's Animals series. It begins Aoelian harp-like,
then turns plucky (I should say plucking) minimalism, ending on a flute obbligato.
preciso e meccanico" from Chamber Concerto (György Ligeti)
It's interesting to hear this apart from the Chamber Concerto. The
title tells all, except that it is ascerbic and bracing.
- Dessert Search
for Techno Baklava (Mochipet, arr. Stefan Freund) 3:00
forms but from the Slavic-Mediterranean School, with tasty hand-drumming,
NY-style taxi horns, and whirling Arabic reeds.
- Le Ray Au
Soleyl (Johannes Ciconia, arr. Gavin Chuck) 2:47
hand drums, strings. I prefer my Ciconia the old-fashioned way.
Balls and Village Halls" from Animals and the Origins of Dance (Benedict
- Player Piano
Study 6 (Conlon Nancarrow, arr. Yvar Mikhashoff) 3:42
clever and enjoyable. The late pianist and educator Yvar Mishakoff is sorely
- Carmen Arcadiae
Mechanicae Perpetuum (Harrison Birtwistle) 9:01
I thought for sure I had another performance in my collection, but I didn't
until now. What savory textures and rhythms! Many lurch forward, as Bernstein
does. Those afraid of Birtwistle needn't fear; the work is complex, but easy
to fathom on first hearing. Excellent.
des Pingouins" from Animals and the Origins of Dance (Benedict
more or less means "The Penguins Tumble Down." Complete with slide
whistle. Do penguins quack? Here too one hears some Bernstein.
Dei II" from Missa L'homme armé super voces musicales (Josquin
des Prez, arr. Payton MacDonald) 1:48
Winds doing the melody over a minimalist underpinning. It grows grand, like
a mechanical organ. It makes me queasy the way Phil Glass' Koyaanisqatsi
(Autechre, arr. Dennis DeSantis) 5:45
Noirish arrangement of a work by an electronica/techno group. Not much more
to be said.
Bossanova with Lemurs" from Animals and the Origins of Dance (Benedict
Not at all disgraceful, and the bossa is hard to detect, but charming.
- Player Piano
Study 3A (Conlon Nancarrow, arr. Derek Bermel) 5:36
woogie with Benny G. and the guys. Great fun and a perfect closer.