Plus-Minus Ensemble

Joanna Bailie: Artificial Environments

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British composer Joanna Bailie lives in Berlin and is the co-founder of London's Plus-Minus Ensemble. The group is heard on this recording of her music, which depends on the close coordination of diverse materials, and the performances here have a satisfying cohesion. In one way or another, these works have a chamber group respond to some kind of external influence, whether it be the first movement of the Brahms Symphony No. 1 in C minor, Op. 68 (sample the "Symphony" movement of Symphony-Street-Souvenir, a work that also takes up the techniques of Italian composer Aldo Clementi), or field recordings of tourists in line to enter Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris (Artificial Environment No. 8). All of the Artificial Environments involve field recordings of specific places in Europe, plus a description in Bailie's speaking voice describing what's happening. The field recordings are in the background, with Bailie and the instruments further forward, and the instrumental settings, with glissandos and clear directional movements that seem to relate to the texts, are central. The other works on the album elaborate the unusual combination of elements Bailie is working with, in one way or another. Recommended.

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