Blogariddims 38: The mouth, the feet, the sound

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This mix is as much a collection of recent pre-occupations as anything else.

[00:00] La Bocca, I Piedi, Il Suono: I ­ – Salvatore Sciarrino (col legno)

I’ve become a little obsessed with this piece, for alto saxophone quartet and 100 ‘peripatetic’ saxes walking around the performance space. The music is composed not only of pitches and rhythms, but the touch of fingertips on keys, the smack of lips on mouthpieces, the sound of breath, the footsteps of all those walking performers. The whole 35-minute piece is an intense close-listening experience that doesn’t really climax until the very end (see track 16 of this mix). Anyone into lower case music, Wandelweiser, all of that, needs to know Sciarrino. Although I didn’t consciously think about it this way, almost everything else on this mix grows out of this piece: there are saxophones everywhere, from Berio, Burtner and Takemitsu; there’s also one buried in Manfred Werder’s conceptual piece.

[01:38] Dulcinée Du Toboso ­ – Jean Schwarz (Celia)
[03:40] Sequenza VIIb ­ – Luciano Berio (BIS)
[07:20] Journeys on the Winds of Time: I ­ – Alan Lamb (New Albion)
[09:47] Lux Animae (Rambler edit) ­ – Horatiu Radulescu (Sub Rosa)
[16:58] … sofferte onde serene … ­ – Luigi Nono (col legno)

With its intense focus on sound in both minute detail and enveloping ambience, La Bocca makes a real connection with … sofferte onde serene …, one of my favourite Nono works. Written for the pianist Maurizio Pollini, it combines live piano with recordings of Pollini himself rehearsing the work such that it’s impossible to tell where live ends and recording begins. Every note tolls inside an echo chamber of its own past.

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[19:06] The Intermediary with a Rendition of Stardust ­ – Blue Gene Tyranny (Lovely Music)
[19:38] Triple (Remix) ­ – Mark Applebaum (Innova)
[26:18] Shur ­ – Alireza Mashayekhi (Prospectives 21e siècle)
[27:05] Distance ­ – Toru Takemitsu (BIS)
[30:00] More Things in the Air than are Visible: Section 3 ­ – Christopher Fox (Metier)
[33:00] 2006/1 – Manfred Werder (skiti)
[36:06] Isle Remix ­ – Evelyn Ficarra (Critical Voices)

Fox takes the piano–tape relationship further in More Things in the Air than are Visible. The third section of the piece combines quiet piano chords that sound like a half-distracted improvisation with a tape of the outdoor ambient sounds of an English summer day – birdsong, a dog barking, traffic noise, etc. Werder’s conceptual work is a grandchild of Cage’s 4’33″: “a place, natural light, where the performer, the performers like to be. a time. (sounds)”. Ficarra turns to the radio waves of the British Isles for her sounds.

[36:33] Split Voices ­ – Matthew Burtner (Innova)
[39:19] Unheimlich Schön ­ - Luc Ferrari (Metamkine)
[43:00] Jour, Contre-jour ­ – Gérard Grisey (Accord)

Ferrari makes an extended piece from the noises – breath, lips, tongue, heartbeat – around the repeating phrase ‘uncanny beauty’. Grisey finds whole worlds in the spaces between two notes.

François Bayle - Erosphère

[43:43] La Bocca, I Piedi, Il Suono: VIII ­ – Salvatore Sciarrino (col legno)
[50:25] un fini I ­ – Mark André (live)
[50:51] Toupie dans le ciel: I ­ – François Bayle (INA-GRM)

Having returned to Sciarrino, the mix finishes off with two tracks that are complimentary opposites: André’s harp solo empties out the space around us as it takes us into the heart of a sound; Bayle dissolves that central core, spreading us thin across the universe.