Consumer Guide

PHIL KLINE: Glow in the Dark (CRI) Not since Stockhausen's Gesang der Juenglinge has a child's voice in an electronic whirlwind sounded so otherworldly as in Kline's "Chant." Low-tech though it may be, I'm still mystified as to how he gets these sweeping glissandos to culminate in huge roars from playing 10 to 25 boomboxes into each other, but they give him the kind of swarming tone-clouds that Penderecki used to seek, deployed in a more gradual, more fluid, more convincing form than Penderecki ever arrived at. Kline's classic "Bachman's Warbler" for harmonica and boomboxes is here, plus "96 Tears," a restful chorale for e-bowed guitars whose expert counterpoint draws a poignant sadness. Downtown Kline may be, but his sensibility is symphonic. A

MICRO-RITMIA: Lejos del Paraiso It was only a matter of time before Conlon Nancarrow's pinball-quick player piano studies began to influence live performance, and since he switched his citizenship to Mexico, it's gratifying that two Mexican composers are the first to carry on his adventures in speed. Micro-Ritmia is the piano duo of Ernesto Martinez and Eduardo Gonzalez, who have developed a rather astonishing technique of playing in between each other's notes to create an impression of double-human speed. Even when they're evoking Satie, playing xylophones, or providing minimalism with a welcome sense of humor, their bullets-through-the-propeller-blades synchronization creates calmly frenetic textures unlike any thing you've ever heard. It's the fastest new music since Nancarrow, and I bet he'd have liked it. A MINUS

HARRY PARTCH: Enclosure 5 (Innova) Volume 5 may scrape the bottom of Partch's barrel, but what a barrel! Apart from some politely truculent radio statements, the real prize of these three discs is the CD premiere of King Oedipus, the work with which Partch paid homage to Yeats and tied his early output to ancient Greek drama. It sounds every bit as weird and mannered as the original Greek drama probably would if accurately reconstructed, yet the story imprints itself powerfully, with some occasional thrilling climaxes on Partch's home made instruments. Partch and Ben Johnston perform a well-tuned Baroque minuet, and there are a few dreary vocal works demonstrating Partch's early concept of corporeality, plus the old Gate 5 recording of Revelation in the Courthouse Park and Kenneth Gaburo's fabulous production of The Bewitched. For Innova's project as a whole, A plus is too weak a grade. B PLUS


String Quartets Nos. 3–6 (New World) Intellectually bankrupt perhaps, certainly not a trail younger composers could follow, but I've always found Rochberg's return to writing in historical styles (Beethoven, Mahler) one of the bravest and most peculiar gestures in American music. Older than the serialist generation, he revolted against his youngers, and outdid them by going backward because he was a better composer to begin with. His so-called "Concord" Quartets from the 1970s also provided a vivid, if not terribly fertile, first draft for a post modern aesthetic: mediating smoothly between tonal and atonal, suddenly sounding exactly like Beethoven's Op. 59 and then, measures later, like no one at all, in a mercurial stream of consciousness. And since they've been out of print for many years, it's great to have the "Concord"s reissued, in sterling performances by the quartet they're named for. B PLUS

JUDITH SAINTE CROIX: Visions of Light and Mystery (Sonic Muse) If Anthony Phillip Heinrich was "the Beethoven of Kentucky," I'm tepted to call Sainte Croix "the Messiaen of Minnesota." She's too original for that, with an exotic and personal sound-world, but the emphasis on ecstatic harmonies and birdsong-derived flute gestures reminds you that she and Messiaen have parallel approaches to the mysticism of nature. In her case, also American Indians, the ambient evocations of whose music come off better on disc than I expected. "Visions I & II" for large chamber groups etch her sturdy melodies, and she sparkles playing her ambitious "Tukwinong" for piano, but the "Bright Leaf Trios," for instrumentalists required to speak text while playing, suffer on disc for the text being too soft and out of context. Despite occasional clichés, a strong compositional voice always comes through. B

GIOVANNI SOLLIMA: Aquilarco (Point) Finally a young European has taken post-minimalism, polished it up with some nice Euro-harmonies and a tastefully feverish romanticism, and brought it back to us in an easy-to-digest form that I bet the Uptown critics find much more palatable than the American variety. And it's on whose label? Philip Glass's? Oh, yeah. B

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