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DAVID KAPPY
Gone

Reviewed by Robert Reigle

Tracks:
David Kappy and Stuart Dempster, “Cistern Music” (1996)
Giacinto Scelsi, “Quattro Pezzi” (1956)
Daniel Harris, “Iron Lung (1976)

Andrew Will Recording, no number.
Published in 2000. 
Total time 65.38
http://www.andrewwill.com/


David Kappy - GoneDavid Kappy is the Professor of Horn at the University of Washington, in Seattle.  In Gone, he presents three contrasting works spanning four decades: a series of improvised duets, a meticulously notated composition for solo horn, and a work for horn and electronics.

The album opens with “Cistern Music,” a series of five improvisations Kappy did with Stuart Dempster, in an old cistern with a 45” reverberation—the same place where Dempster had recorded Deep Listening (released by New Albion Records in 1989).  This is slow-moving, meditative music, the two master musicians reveling in the blurred overlapping produced by the acoustics of the space.  The titles of the improvisations provide some idea of both the character of the music and the concepts of improvisation shared by the performers: “Pedals,” “Overtones,” “Duet,” “Siegfried,” “Didjeriduet.”  In addition to playing French horn, Kappy vocalizes during part of the lengthy final improvisation, and Dempster makes beautiful timbral explorations on didjeridu (techniques that he also applies to his trombone playing).
   
For this listener, the highlight of the album is the world premiere recording of Giacinto Scelsi’s 1956 composition, Quattro Pezzi for solo horn.  Oddly, although this is an extraordinarily colorful work even for Scelsi, it was one of the last to receive a commercial recording—some 44 years after its composition.  Through the use of different types of muting, quarter tones, and vibratos, Scelsi elicits a wider range of subtle timbral variations than those found in most of his other solo wind instrument works.  Later on, Scelsi arranged the third French horn piece for soprano voice, including it as the fourth “evocation” in the five-part work “Taiagaru” (1962).    
   
Since this album’s release, I’ve had the opportunity to hear the Scelsi piece performed by the great Denis Simandy, while we toured together with Iancu Dumitrescu’s Hyperion Ensemble.  The second recording of the Quattro Pezzi appeared in 2006, by Andrew Joy, on Edition Zeitklang.  Kappy’s recording was done in a winery and has less reverb than Joy’s recording, which was made in a concert hall in Cologne and co-produced by the West German Radio and Edition Zeitklang.  I prefer the drier acoustic of the winery, which affords both a greater range of, and more direct access to the extremely fine subtleties of timbral variation wherein lie the spiritual underpinnings Scelsi intended. 

All three performers bring out slightly different characteristics of the music, and being the first to publish a recording of this demanding work is a feather in Kappy’s cap.  Thanks must go to Chris Camarda of Andrew Will Winery (http://www.andrewwill.com/), whose love for Scelsi’s music led to this album as well as an all-Scelsi concert that included Kappy playing the Quattro Pezzi (
http://www.seattleweekly.com/2002-04-24/arts/johnny-one-note/).
   
The full title of the final piece on Gone is “Music for the Buy-Centennial: Iron Lung for David Kappy, ARP 2000, Tape Delay, and Tape.”  Composed by Daniel Harris in 1976, this is the world premiere performance.  Harris, born in Chicago in 1943, is an interesting composer, bass clarinet player, and developer of underwater sound systems (see
danielharrismusic.com).  “Iron Lung” is a free-wheeling, fun piece using the technology of its day to layer and oscillate amongst short melodic phrases, electronic sounds, and echo effects.   

This is a fine album, and a nice addition to the scant French horn discography.  Kappy is an excellent player, bringing out the diverse aesthetics of meditation, spiritual intensity, and avant-garde critique.  Interested readers, who may have to do some digging to acquire a copy of this album (which was limited to a pressing of 1,000 CDs), will be well-rewarded.

 



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