Classical Editor: Rob Barnett

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Len Mullenger:

Psalm 151; Psy; Triangel

Zoltan Racz (percussion) UMZE Chamber Ensemble/Peter Eötvös
BIS 948 [65.34]
Amazon US

Here is one of the most important percussion CDs I have heard for many a month. A large number of diverse instruments is used in three works which explore various modes of communication. Peter Eötvös is a notable, innovative composer and conductor, with a complex opera on The Three Sisters of Chekov one of his recent major works on CD.

Psalm 151 (1993) is a ritual memorial protestation in memory of Frank Zappa, with strophes on bass drum and 'processions' on metal instruments. Psy is a 'parlando-rubato-recitativo' for marimba with flute & cello, the marimba's freedom followed by the other instruments 'like a shadow'. Triangel (37 mins) is a large scale work 'for a creative percussionist' with the percussionist more like an African 'master drummer' leader. Twenty seven musicians are involved in its ten movements, which set compositional tasks and incorporate 'exercises in hearing' and decision taking. The soloist begins by improvising on a small triangle and thereafter establishes different relationships with four groups of instruments, who have to demonstrate great flexibility. For instance, in the movement The glass street the soloist plays on glass bells, the woodwind players respond by blowing tuned glasses!. There is an 'African' movement where he 'teaches the people' to drum; no rehearsal, the performance as recorded having depended on the moment and the mood.

A very rich and heady mixture, supported by taped conversation between composer and the eminent percussionist Zoltan Racz, founder and artistic director of the Amandinda perculssion Group. Impeccably recorded with close microphone placing so that the experience received is closer to that of the players than of listeners in a concert. Definitely a CD to collect if you are interested in the development of percussion during the late 20th Century.

Peter Grahame Woolf

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