Bernhard Günter

Crossing the River (Night Music)

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Then, Silence, Bernhard Günter's previous release on Trente Oiseaux, paid tribute to Morton Feldman and Luigi Nono. With its dedication to Iannis Xenakis, Crossing the River (Night Music) completes the triumvirate of influences reigning (although not as despots) over Günter's music. The artist has publicly explained that the title piece had been completed before news of the Greek composer's death reached him. "Crossing the River (Night Music)" is a half-hour composition proceeding in tableaux much like Then, Silence. A melodic figure is sketched by a screechy cello and a horn (French horn?) heard from a distance. Its echoing notes sound like a foghorn and provide the strongest element in establishing a marine theme. Soft electro-acoustic textures, kept barely above an audible level, evoke the river itself, its song growing so familiar one tends to forget it. Is this a dream in which the sequences are separated by a few seconds of sleepy silence or episodes taken from a long journey on the symbolic river? The title of a Miró painting reproduced in the booklet brings an element of answer: "Ceci est la couleur de mes rêves" -- "This is the color of my dreams." Günter's recommendation to listen to the piece "in the dark" is superfluous. All his works deserve to be experienced in the calmest, most stimuli-deprived conditions. As a complement, the shorter "Haiku for Mu" is less interesting. More of a field recording (it actually sounds untreated), it features a dog sleeping. Listeners hear the animal's breath and sounds oozing in from the street. Buy this CD for the title piece, one of Günter's best and another step away from his earlier sound art and toward contemporary composition.

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