Classical Editor: Rob Barnett                               Founder Len Mullenger:

Luciano BERIO

Dieter MACK

Rafting & Beyond

George CRUMB

Makrokosmos III

Piano & Percussion (Susan Wenckus, Markus Stange, Lutz Bidlingmaier, Markus Hauke, Michael Kiedaisch)
SDR Audite 97.455 [66 mins]

A delectable CD by the group Piano & Percussion which had been heard by S&H (to less advantage) at Stuttgart.

Linea (1973) is one of Berio's happier creations of the early '70s. He takes a very simple 'melody' and explores its implied elements, the players sometimes diverging, at others meeting on the same line, the two pianos joined by marimba and vibraphone.

The German composer Dieter Mack (b.1954), who studied with Ferneyhough and Huber, and has a special interest in South-East Asian music, is likely to be the least known to readers. The title of his piece, composed whilst composer in residence in Wellington, alludes to personal relationships which develop and are disrupted participating in the water sport popular in the rapids of New Zealand. The percussion instruments used, with precision and quite sparingly, are helpfully listed in the detailed documentation with this CD, as are the many required for George Crumb's Music for a Summer Evening, the third part of his extended Makrokosmos. The first two volumes (1972-73) are for solo amplified piano, the title obviously relating to Bartók's Mikrokosmos. In his note, Crumb also acknowledges his debt to Bartók's Sonata for two pianos and percussion, expressing surprise that this fruitful combination did not lead to a rapid proliferation of works in that genre.

Makrokosmos III is a major work of approx. 40 mins (35 in this performance) for which the pianos are amplified and often set in a halo of evocative sounds, the odd-numbered movements on a large scale, with cosmic and philosophical programmes. They are separated by dreamlike intermezzi, a wistful Wanderer Fantasy mostly for the pianos alone, and Myth for the percussionists. Crumb's music is always easily accessible and often relatively simple - even simplistic in essence - its main constituent colouration from a wide sound palette of exotic instruments. The SDR recording is of demonstration quality.

Peter Grahame Woolf

UK distributor: Priory Records, 3 Eden Court, Leighton Buzzard, Bedfordshire, LU7 8FY 01525 377566 Fax 01525 371477

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